Apple’s forthcoming iOS 13 release brings iPhone and iPad users proactive notifications on which apps are using their location and when they are using it.
Many would say these pop-up alerts are long overdue, considering revelations about shady location-gathering practices by high profile companies like Google and Uber and countless other less illustrious developers.
However, a group of developers are upset by the user-friendly notifications, accusing Apple of anti-competitive behaviour; a frequent charge levelled against the company as pertains to third-party apps and the App Store.
A report from The Information (via TechCrunch) says the bosses or executives of Tile, Arity, Life360, Happn, Zenly, Zendrive and Twenty signed the letter, claiming the change could see apps that have a valid need for real-time data shut down.
The letter reads: “We understand that there were certain developers, specifically messaging apps, that were using this as a backdoor to collect user data.
“While we agree loopholes like this should be closed, the current Apple plan to remove [access to the internet voice feature] will have unintended consequences: it will effectively shut down apps that have a valid need for real-time location.”
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The developers argue it’s anti-competitive because Apple doesn’t treat its own apps – like Find My for instance – in this manner. They also argue that the changes may confuse less-savvy tech users.
So what are the changes precisely? Well, in iOS 13, when launching an app for the first time, Apple will present users with an option to “Allow Once” when it comes to location. Users will also be able to select “Allow While Using App” and “Don’t Allow.”
Apple hopes this will enable users to familiarise themselves with the apps in question before deciding upon whether they want to grant full location access to the developer in question.
Apple says any iOS changes are made with the user in mind. Perhaps the developers in question should be writing to their cohorts to encourage them not to exploit the location feature to collect user data? Then, perhaps, Apple wouldn’t have had felt it necessary to make this change.