(Phys.org) -- The word is out that Apple will replace the Unique Device Identifier (UDID) that is meant for mobile application developers trying to track who uses their software. Apple, according to reports, has devised a better solution for developers that does not generate a web of privacy concerns and complaints. The iPad and iPhone maker is developing a new app tracking tool that will provide developers with the information they seek, while protecting users privacy more than the UDID approach.
The UDID is a unique string of alphanumeric text attached to every iPhone and iPad. Apple was allowing developers to track UDIDs for some time before running afoul of consumer complaints and privacy watchdogs. Concerns over apps storing and making use of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch UDIDs began popping up in 2010. Security researchers discovered apps that were transmitting user data. Lawyers referred to the UDID as a "supercookie," a term used for cookie-like strategies of tracking users across browser sessions.
Last year, Apple told developers that it was going to phase out the UDID, killing off access with iOS 5, and warned developers to avoid using it. Later on, Apple went further and began rejecting apps that accessed a device's UDID code in any way. With Apples announcement of the UDID phase-out, developers began examining workarounds, with one option being to create their own proprietary opt-in identification systems.
Sources talking to The Wall Street Journal say that Apple does plan to respond with a new, more privacy-conscious system that will deploy tagging independent of any one iPad or iPhone. The new system may rely on a sequence of numbers that are not tied to any specific device.
To be sure, an announcement by Apple of a new tracking system would be conveniently well timed if issued at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC 2012), in San Francisco, on Monday, June 11 to June 15. This is the event, after all, where developers and Apple engineers meet and discuss objectives and plans.
Reports suggest, on the other hand, that the new ID will not be announced until after the San Francisco event, and that it is expected to be detailed in the coming weeks.
Tracking is an important exercise for those developers who need statistics about who is using their applications and how the apps are being used. Developers at Apples WWDC will most likely be looking for more helpful clues about a new tracker solution.
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