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Apple warns developers it will stop accepting apps that access UDIDs on May 1

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It’s been hinted at and implied in the past, but Apple(s AAPL) is now serious about apps using universal devices identifiers (UDIDs): starting May 1, such apps will be rejected from the App Store, the company told its third-party developers on Thursday.

On its developer site Apple writes:

Starting May 1, the App Store will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs. Please update your apps and servers to associate users with the Vendor or Advertising identifiers introduced in iOS 6.

UDIDs, which were intended to be anonymous, have been used by publishers, developers and advertisers to track their app’s usage and more accurately target advertisements almost since the App Store opened in 2008. But there are huge privacy implications with that practice: with just a bit more identifying data, a device’s UDID can be traced to a specific owner.

Apple first mentioned it would start rejecting apps that used UDIDs, due to privacy concerns, in late 2011. Then almost exactly a year ago, there were signs the company’s app review team had begun enforcing that rule. In September 2012, Apple introduced a replacement system for advertisers to use — the Advertising Identifier, an anonymized number that users can choose to reset, or opt out of altogether.

By May 1, the Advertising Identifier will have been available for eight months; plenty of time for those who want to understand how their apps are being used to switch over to the new system.

Besides UDID use, 9to5Mac notes that App Store reviewers will also be looking for apps that aren’t optimized for Retina displays and will reject them, along with iPhone apps that are not optimized for the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5.

12 Responses to “Apple warns developers it will stop accepting apps that access UDIDs on May 1”

  1. Kazuya Mishima

    Whether you like a nice, small smartphone or a tablet-like behemoth is very much a personal decision. Some like to have huge 6-inch screens in the palm of their hands, whilst others think that the 4-inch display of pre fifth-generation iPhones is still the sweet spot. People will never agree on which is best, nor should they ever need to. ……

  2. If you sell your iPhone the next user may be able to access your accounts because of UDID. Even after you wipe your phone and reset it, if the next user installs an app such as Amazon, the app will be linked to your Amazon account. No fun if you have 1-click buying activated.

  3. It’s also a very easy and reliable method of allowing users to delete your app and reinstall without losing progress and not requiring them to go through an account setup process.

    A process which is never entirely casual user friendly.

  4. Don’t really care about UDID’s – quite frankly nothing is anonymous.

    The real news here is Apple’s very new and very serious take on trying to fix their sliding margins: Outlawing Apps that won’t work on any phone prior to iPhone5 is a slap in the face to every single iPhone owner.

    Trade ’em if you got ’em. Samsung WILL NOT treat you this way.

    • An app can be “optimized” for the iPhone 5 and still be backwards compatible. If anything, Apple is saying to developers that your app must catch up with the new hardware if you’re going to update it.

    • jiminy cricket

      “Outlawing”? No. Apps need to be updated to Retina and the larger screen so they work well on any device. Because an App supports Retina and the iPhone 5 form factor has no affect of the App working on any other iPhone. It just insures it will work well on Retina iPhones; the iPhone 4, 4s, 5 and what ever is next. If you’re sporting an iPhone, an iPhone 3G or 3GS the OS version is going to affect your App choice and capability more than whether it is Retina or not.

      As for Samsung. Really? Let’s not get into a discussion about software compatibility in the Samsung/Android/Ice Cream/Jellybean/Buttercup world. I’m sure Samsung “Will not treat you this way”. Like insuring developers update their Apps, use consistent APIs, prevent Malware, and respect your privacy.