Google has finally released details on how its most popular iOS apps like Gmail will monitor your data to personalize advertisements, make suggestions, or improve service over time. These details were released to comply with Apple’s new terms and conditions that require all developers who publish on the App Store to indicate what information they are tracking from apps installed on iPhones and iPad.
While most companies adhered to Apple’s updated App Store rules fairly quickly, it took Google a little longer to release the exact details it gathers from its popular iOS apps. That has now changed, and a quick visit to the Apple App Store will reveal exactly what goes on behind the scenes when you download apps like Gmail.
All the details are now available on the App Store, making for a pretty interesting – if not a terrifying – read. Once installed and given all permissions by the user, Gmail will have access to a range of data including your purchase history, photos, search history, and location.
It’s not uncommon for apps to track this type of data. However, if you’ve never seen the full list (see below) this can seem pretty terrible.
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EVERYTHING GMAIL CAN COLLECT HERE
Third Party Advertising • Location • Gross Location • Identifiers • User ID • Usage Data • Advertising Data • Analytics • Purchases
Purchase History • Location • Gross Location • Contact Information • Email Address • User Content
Photos or videos • Audio • Customer support • Other user content • Search history • Search history
Identifiers • User ID • Device ID • Usage data • Product interaction • Advertising data • Diagnostics • Crash data • Performance data • Other diagnostic data • Other data • Other data types
Before you think about throwing Gmail in the trash, keep in mind that almost all tech companies do data collection as this is how they can provide a personalized user experience. If you search for “email from dad with attachment” in Gmail to find this content, Google will have to scan your contacts, search your entire inbox, and search through the contents of the emails to find out which emails you are Appendix included.
Gmail also tracks data to provide a better user experience over time (through analysis of app crashes and more) and of course to generate some serious advertising revenue for parent company Alphabet Inc.
Apple also doesn’t allow developers to collect data that doesn’t adhere to strict rules, and all users must consent to it being tracked before data is collected. If you’ve been shocked by what apps like Gmail can learn more about you, help is on the way.
Apple now wants to help its users regain control. An upcoming software update, slated to be released in the spring, will include a feature called App Tracking Transparency, which requires all apps to get user permission before they can track their data across apps or websites from other companies.
In the Settings menu, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV users can see exactly which apps have requested permission to track and simply turn them off.
It’s worth noting that Apple also uses data to personalize advertising across its apps.
“Privacy means peace of mind, security, and you are in the driver’s seat of your own data,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering. People’s information is safe and secure. We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we do. “