Apple steps up user privacy in iOS 9, prevents apps from scanning for other installed apps

iPhone privacy settings

A new report has revealed that Apple has updated a privacy policy in iOS 9 to prevent third-party apps from detecting which other apps users have installed on their iPhone or iPad.

According to The Information (via Business Insider), Apple announced the change in a session focused on privacy at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference.

The report notes that big-name apps like Twitter and Facebook gather data on installed apps in order to serve users targeted advertising.

One example said the report, is mobile gaming. Users who are found to have paid games installed can be served ads for other paid games they do not already own.

Apps are able to gather app install data on an iOS device via an application programming interface (API) in iOS called “canopenURL.”

Apple’s original intent for the API was to provide an easy way for apps to communicate with one another and not as a tool to collect data for use in targeted ad campaigns. With iOS 9, Apple intends to stop this exploitation of the API when the software update is released to the general public in September.

This is the latest in a series of efforts made by Apple to assure its customers of their privacy.

In an open letter published last fall, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated that the company uses what little data it collects to make better products, not to sell advertising.

“Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone,” wrote Cook.

Earlier this month, Cook also took a stand on user privacy by comparing how Apple treats user data compared to other “prominent” Silicon Valley companies.

“They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be,” Cook said in a speech at an awards dinner.

iOS 9 also includes a number of other features to protect users’ privacy, including anonymous Siri and Spotlight search features that are not associated with the user’s Apple ID, use a randomized identifier, are not linked to other Apple services, and are not share with third parties as well as support for content blocking extensions in Safari.

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