It’s becoming clear that we can’t go more than 48 hours right now without Apple finding itself in the middle of some sort of media explosion, and the current one comes courtesy of a number of developers that have been found to go as far as recording the screens of users in an attempt to better understand how their app are used.
Using services like Glassbox, those apps report back to their developers, presumably allowing them to improve their user experiences. That goes strongly against Apple’s rules, and Apple is letting them know.
In response to a report by TechCrunch outlining the practice, Apple has told developers that they may be forced to remove their apps due to their practices.
“Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.”
“We have notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary,” the spokesperson added.
In fact, it appears that one developer has reported that they have already been told that they have to remove the screen monitoring functionality, or face the consequences. Another option would be to inform users that the recording is taking place. However, it’s unlikely that users will agree.
“Your app uses analytics software to collect and send user or device data to a third party without the user’s consent. Apps must request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.”
While the use of things like Glassbox is probably not about watching what people are entering into apps, it’s creepy nonetheless. Developers believe that the information collected allows them to make better apps, but with Apple requiring apps that record screens to first ask the user for permission, and then display a red icon at the top of the screen, it’s clear that these app are breaking App Store rules.
At this point, it seems a simple case of developers having to remove the code or risk having users simply refuse to use their apps. Apps that have been outed so far include Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines which are all using Glassbox.
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