Earlier this month it was discovered that social networking app Path was downloading the address books of its users without their knowledge or permission. Understandably, many people were unhappy with the situation, which prompted congress to get involved and question both Apple and several social networking app developers on their privacy policies and the information that the apps gather from users.
Your device UDID, if you are unaware, is a unique identifying code that developers use to track your app activity (similar to web cookies). When questioning app developers and Apple, the inquiring congressmen questioned UDID activity, prompting Apple to reaffirm that it is doing away with UDID access.
Back when iOS 5 was released, Apple announced in its developer documentation that developers needed to start moving away from the use of the UDID, using unique, app specific identifiers instead. As of last week, amid the privacy concerns of both congress and the public, Apple began rejecting new apps and updates that use a device’s UDID and don’t ask for user permission.
The sudden move to turn away apps using the UDID is no coincidence, and though developers have known that its disappearance was a possibility, the rejections have left them scrambling for an alternative.
One such alternative might come from AppRedeem, which is a mobile advertising platform designed to help developers boost engagement and acquire new users. The company has developed the “Organizational Specific Device Identifier,” or the ODID, which is already in use by discount giant Groupon.
AppRedeem CEO Sheffield Nolan recently explained the ODID system to TechCrunch, who then spelled it out:
“Over-simplifying, an ODID is created by appending a hash of the MAC address to an organization’s ‘secret key’ to create the payload, and then applying a hash wrapper to the payload. Furthermore, the ODID is sandboxed within the specific organization that created it, and the device’s Mac address is used as the seed for the ODID.”
The ODID eliminates most privacy concerns because an app developer cannot obtain the unique MAC address from a device using the system, since it is just a seed. It is, however, a unique identifier that does not disappear when a device is reset.
AppRedeem began updating its SDK with ODID support yesterday, and it will be available to all customers by the end of the week.
More than half of the top 100 grossing apps are part of AppRedeem’s service, including Groupon, Zynga, Disney, TinyCo, Gameloft, AOL, and Smule.