Apple is planning to release a new way for mobile app developers to track who uses their software. This comes as the company’s latest attempt to balance developers’ appetite for targeting data with consumers’ unease over how it is used.
The new tool, which could be detailed in the coming weeks, aims to better protect user privacy than existing approaches.
Many mobile companies rely on what is called the Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, to serve ads and gather data—like location and preferences—as people move between apps. But some privacy advocates argued that the string of numbers, which are anonymous, could be coupled with enough data to identify individuals.
App developers are worried about losing millions of dollars in revenue if they can’t target users with mobile ads.
Meanwhile, developers and mobile ad networks have been evaluating various workarounds, worried about losing millions of dollars in revenue if they can’t target users with mobile ads. Companies also say they need a way to recognize users in order to customize content and preferences.
“Everyone is waiting for Apple to do something,” says Lars Albright, the chief executive of mobile-marketing company SessionM and a former executive in Apple’s iAd division. “There are a lot of different viewpoints in the industry. We don’t need more confusion. We need less.”