A (somewhat hilarious) report began circulating yesterday suggesting that Google purposely stopped updating its apps on iOS to avoid putting the required new Apple App Store privacy labels on its apps. Since then, the company has confirmed plans to add these tags.
For those unfamiliar with Apple’s privacy labels, the company released them in mid-December alongside the release of iOS 14.3. Tags appear on applications available through the Apple App Store and detail what data an application can access. That can include “linked to you” data, such as financial information or identifiers, data that is not linked to you, such as location or search history, and more.
Along with the new App Store privacy labels, the Cupertino, California-based company said developers would need to report the data collection information required to add these labels beginning December 8. Apple said it would prevent developers from updating their apps if they don’t provide the information.
Several companies have yet to add privacy labels to their apps
That promise formed the crux of Fast companyreport About Google: The post noted that Google hadn’t updated any of its iOS apps in a while, with several receiving updates on December 7, the day before Apple’s deadline. Fast company It suggests that Google was avoiding updates so it wouldn’t have to share information about the data its apps collected, and noted that Google updated several of the Android versions of its apps.
Considering that some companies have received a lot of criticism for these privacy labels, it is easy to see why Google may want to avoid privacy labels in its applications. The Facebook app, for example, has a comically long list of data that it collects, while Facebook’s Messenger app had its list compared to other messaging platforms, which have far fewer labels.
However, a Google spokesperson confirmed TechCrunch that the company plans to add privacy labels to its app catalog, with the first one expected to be rolled out later this week or sometime next. While that single statement discredits Fast companythe theory, TechCrunch He goes on to note that two of Google’s apps received updates after the December 8 deadline: one on the 14th and the other on the 15. However, neither of the apps had privacy labels.
Further away, TechCrunch notes that a slowdown in app updates in December is normal for a number of reasons. On the one hand, Apple closes the App Store during the holidays (from December 23 to 27, 2020). Additionally, Google freezes the code during the holidays to prevent a product or service from breaking while staff are away.
Finally, Google is not the only company that has not added privacy labels. TechCrunch notes that neither Amazon nor Pinterest have updated their apps with the tags.
Google is not holding back updates to avoid Apple’s new privacy labels. That’s not to say that the new privacy labels are not a concern for Google, and other companies, who primarily make money by collecting user data for advertising purposes. But those concerns probably won’t stop any app updates.