updated 01:40 am EDT, Sun March 25, 2012
Apple now screening for UDID-tracking apps
Apple has acted on its plans to deprecate UDID access in iOS 5 by starting to reject apps that try to access the unique device identifiers. Tips late Saturday to TechCrunch had two of Apple's ten review teams outright rejecting any app that wants UDIDs, with the number growing to four next week and continuing until every reviewer denies UDID access. Individual developers, management groups, and ad supporters such as Playhaven and MoPub have already been denied App Store spots.
Some say they've cleared approval if they explicitly ask for the UDID information. Recommendation service Appsfire, in turn, has so far been working by promoting an independent standard, OpenUDID. Either requires an opt-in, either on the part of the user or the developer, and may struggle versus the previous, automatic approach of simply collecting an existing UDID. One tactic so far, collecting a Wi-Fi router's MAC address for a given iOS device's connection, might prove fragile as it still traces back to one device.
Both advertisers and developers that had grown dependent on UDIDs will now have to either find an alternative or scrap features that relied primarily on the identifiers to function. Those advertising on third-party ad networks may have the most problem, since some of them have leaned heavily on UDIDs to track usage and generate their results.
Apple hasn't publicly commented on the process, although it's believed to be speeding up the process of transitioning developers away from UDID months ahead of schedule over political concerns. Apple and iOS developers alike are already under Congress' scrutiny for possibly revealing too much about individual users. Since UDID is tied directly to hardware, it can theoretically be used to identify individuals and could mark a gross invasion of privacy if misused, or at least draw extra attention from legislators and regulators.
UDIDs will continue to get broader use at Apple for diagnostics and other special instances, and not for its regular apps.