Yesterday, Apple released the sixth beta of iOS 5 to developers, and a significant change was introduced within the update. TechCrunch has discovered that Apple is phasing out the ability for developers to access a device’s Unique Device Identifier (UDID)in iOS 5. Instead, Apple is asking developers to create unique identifiers specific to their apps in order to tie installations to specific users.
This is a big deal, especially for any mobile ad networks, game networks or any app which relies on the UDID to identify users. Many apps and mobile ad networks, for instance, uses the UDID or a hashed version to keep track of who their users are and what actions they have taken. App publishers are now supposed to crete their own unique identifiers to keep track of users going forward, which means they may have to throw all of their historical user data out the window and start from scratch.
Apple’s decision to remove developer access to UDIDs is a big deal, especially for mobile ad networks, game networks, or any app that relies on the UDID to identify users. UDIDs would allow developers to keep track of who their users are and what actions they take, but the developers will no longer have this option in iOS 5. The company wants app publishers to create their own unique identifiers to keep track of users, which may cause developers to discard their historical data and cause them to start from scratch.
In the past, Apple has been sued over their method of handling UDIDs. Even though UDIDs can’t be directly linked to specific users, information tied to a device can be passed along to advertisers to help them in targeting their advertisements. This practice may have caused privacy concerns from people concerned about privacy.
Apple’s decision seems to address those privacy concerns.