Talking tech since 2003

A lot of news has come out of the recent release of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6. Most of the coverage has revolved around a seemingly manifested feud between Apple and Google–via changes such as the transition away from Google Maps and the loss of a built-in YouTube app (though a new and improved version can be downloaded from the App Store). Something that seems to have slipped through the cracks is Apple’s introduction of the new Advertising Identifier.

In previous versions of iOS, ads were able to target individual users based on the device’s UDID, a device-specific unique identifier. As of iOS 6, advertisers will have to start using the new Advertising Identifier for targeted ads. Apple explains:

“iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal, device identifier, that apps will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods. If you choose to limit ad tracking, apps are not permitted to use the Advertising Identifier to serve you targeted ads. In the future all apps will be required to use the Advertising Identifier. However, until then you may still receive targeted ads.”

In what appears to be a win in personal privacy, Apple allows users of any iOS 6 device to disable the Advertising Identifier. This can be done by accessing the Settings menu and choosing General > About > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking > On. However, as noted, Apple appears to not be fully enforcing this methodology yet, and some advertising may still be targeted via your device’s UDID.

As Apple begins to enforce the Advertising Identifier across the board, this will be a big boost in privacy for iPod, iPad, and iPhone users. As the mobile atmosphere continues to grow, expect to see an increased demand from consumers to control their experience. Because of the tight coupling between application interaction and location awareness, manufacturers and developers will be forced to treat privacy with the same (or higher) regard as the desktop.

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