Apple makes big change to iOS 5: Phasing out developer access to UDID

“Apple is making a lot of big changes to its mobile operating system with iOS 5, which is dribbling out in betas for developers ahead of a general release later this year,” Eric Schonfeld reports for TechCrunch.

“But there is one big change some developers are just starting to take notice of that Apple isn’t talking about that much,” Schonfeld reports. “In a recent update to the documentation for iOS 5 (which is only available to registered Apple developers, but a copy was forwarded to me), Apple notes that it will be phasing out access to the unique device identifier, or UDID, on iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.”

Advertisement: Limited Time: Students, Parents and Faculty save up to $200 on a new Mac.

Schonfeld reports, “This is a big deal, especially for any mobile ad networks, game networks or any app which relies on the UDID to identify users. Many apps and mobile ad networks, for instance, uses the UDID or a hashed version to keep track of who their users are and what actions they have taken. App publishers are now supposed to create their own unique identifiers to keep track of users going forward, which means they may have to throw all of their historical user data out the window and start from scratch… The change may be in response to privacy concerns or as a way to pre-empt them.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ellis D.” for the heads up.]


    1. It’s a big deal if you’re a developer, but it’s invisible to you as a user.

      I wonder though, what the new process will be for loading beta versions of an app.

      On a side note, it’s amusing to me how nonchalantly this guy tells the world that he received an unauthorized copy of the OS.

      1. Not trying to be argumentative, but I don’t see any harm in another version of the beta software floating around for sampling purposes. I know of many people who are selling their developer ID online to recoup the $99 registration fee. Some are just hobbyists so that’s one way of covering their costs.

        1. Your moral latitudes and what Apple specifically states in their Developer Agreement are two different things. Although its the developer who shared this info that would be in trouble, not the writer.

          1. Like I mentioned in my reply to TheConfuzed1, I’m not looking for an argument with him, merely pointing out the fact that there may be underlying economic reasons why developer IDs are being sold online, despite the overriding prohibition. To my thinking it’s beta software so it’s not as if it means economic loss to Apple.

            1. Beta software is incomplete and buggy. It damages Apple’s reputation when copies of beta iOS gets out into the wild. iOS 5 is currently like a fetus at 7 months– just not ready for public viewing. I am surprised at the number of people that are so shallow that they don’t consider that a product’s value is measured in more than dollars and cents.

            2. If I split the cable signal coming into my house, and sell it to my neighbor at a discounted price, I can recoup the cost of my subscription, but I’m still a thief if I do it.

              And I know what you’ll say next– “But this is a beta…”

              That doesn’t matter. Theft is theft, and the violation of Apple’s terms are grounds enough to be kicked out of the developer program.

            3. Uhm hello? That ship sailed long ago. You can try to be as anal as you like but it doesn’t deflect the fact that there are masses of beta copies of iOS 5 floating around. At most you’d have to pay $99 for so it’s not as if the hurdles are that high to surmount. But the people reporting for these respectable blogs have obviously obtained illicit copies of it. How else can they give previews of it. So they must have obtained it from an unnamed source who must have sold it to them in violation of the NDA. Are you saying that Apple should shut these blogs down or should we just accept that closing the gate after the horse has bolted is futile. Besides who will serve up the titillation of prerelease versions of iOS 5 if Apple doesn’t at least surreptitiously condone leakages. It keeps the interest level high prior to actual product release. Get real people and stop living in lalaland.

            4. You are 100 percent right apple must condone at least a little leakage of not leaking said material in the first place. Were talking about the greatest marketing company in the world with the highest interest in product development … When Steve jobs takes a shit you better believe people always wants to know which hand he wipes with 

            5. Any of you who were paying attention might have noticed that the reporter mentioned getting a copy of the documentation for iOS 5, not the OS itself.

      2. “On a side note, it’s amusing to me how nonchalantly this guy tells the world that he received an unauthorized copy of the OS.”

        He didn’t say he received a copy of the OS, just the documentation. Journalist receive leaked documents all the time. As long as he didn’t sign Apple’s NDA, it’s not the same as receiving physical (iPhone) stolen goods.

  1. Excellent – once this change is in place, I might reconsider my opposition to “apps” which are little more than shells for browser access to a site, as those apps would no longer be able to track me by device ID.

      1. Yes. It is nice. I doubt GOOG will until somebody comes after their ass. But it’s not as though AAPL just did this because they’re concerned about our privacy. In the end all that matters is that it happens.

  2. Once again MAC is taking the user hostile ‘my way or the highway’ approach. When are you pretentious lemmings going to get tired of it? And who does MAC think they are that they tell developers how they can track users? Who are they “protecting” us from? Being closely tracked gives me a sense of security. I get a warm feeling knowing corporations and developers have the ability to know so much about me because in today’s fast paced world who has time for ads, messages or e-mail that doesn’t apply? Ads are what make the internet great. Once again Android courageously leads where MAC follows. Whatever.

    1. Hey Zuney, isn’t it time you called yourself TouchPadTang seeing how the Zune and the TouchPad have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Or if you want to be ahead of the curve and skate to where the puck is, try RIMTang.

      Sincerely yours,
      The nut on the left of Redmond’s finest

  3. I don’t see making the developer responsible for tracking mechanisms a big deal. However, TheConfuzed1 has pointed out a big issue:
    “what the new process will be for loading beta versions of an app.”
    Currently, a developer needs a user’s UDID to be able to load a beta of their application onto a tester’s iOS device. Without access to the UDID, how do testers load betas of apps to test?

  4. I’m a developer and we use the UUID for stats on what the user has downloaded. This history is a vital part of the app allowing us to keep a consistent state over multiple devices and our website.

    Ther is no way for a developer to track you. The UUID is a 40 digit number and that is all, with no name, device info or other identifying information.

  5. As usual, a technical thing gets out and the non-technical people jump to a lot of conclusions.

    This isn’t a big deal for developers and it isn’t a big deal for customers. Developers have a better solution, especially with iCloud and customers don’t really need to worry about it.

    The worrying about privacy is hilarious given that the udid didn’t’ reveal any private information and couldn’t’ be used for that… and it would be trivial for any developer to pick a random number when you run the app on a device and use that number the way they used the device.

    This is why government, by the way, always screws people over. Politicans are as ignorant of economics as the average consumer is of what a UDID is.

    1. First, you need to look up hubris; you have an overabundance of it. Then read Bruce Schneier’s posts on security and privacy — he is an expert; you might learn something. As to your repeated posts on government, a basic civics course might help you.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tags: ,