Google and Apple Protecting User Data

Post By Hannah Downing

Google and Apple have been making strides when it comes to creating a safer, more transparent app space for consumers. For Google, this comes in the form of a new strategy to weed out the bad apps from the good ones. For Apple, this means specifically creating restrictions when it comes to user data, such as location services, and restricting this data to certain types of apps.

As Abner Li recently wrote for 9to5Google, Google is implementing a comparison strategy to find apps that may be requesting data from users that is irrelevant to the functioning of the app and, therefore, should not be requested. Google wants to stop this kind of data collection because they think this data is often being shared, too, which they see as unfair and unsafe to the consumer. To make this process as efficient as possible and to minimize mistakes, Google is using machine learning to execute this strategy. Apps are categorized by similar functionalities and any app with differences within that group is flagged for Google to look into further. As an example, Li quoted that Google might flag a coloring book app that is requesting and sharing a user’s location if no other coloring book app even requests this kind of data, especially since something like location would likely not be relevant to the success and functionality of a coloring book app. Google is also adding to their efforts to restrict data collection by limiting how frequently background data can be collected from a user within a certain amount of time.

Apple is taking a different approach to protecting user data, specifically location. James Hercher recently reported for Ad Exchanger that Apple’s new iOS update, due in September, will feature a blue bar appearing at the top of iPhone and iPad screens when apps are tracking the user’s location in the background. The update will include more options for users to control when each app is allowed to track their location. There will also be more restrictions for certain apps regarding location, such as only allowing apps one request to “always” track a user’s location.

These changes show a clear effort on both Apple and Google’s part to emphasize the safety of consumer data and each user’s experience overall. We’ve seen multiple instances of this new emphasis on the user rather than developers or marketers lately, including upcoming changes to the App Store and Google Play, that allow for more relevant and clear information to be displayed to users, further allowing for informed decisions to be made by users. In the end, both app developers and marketers are going to be held to high standards as these platforms continue making changes to accommodate the user and users will get the experience they deserve.

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