Google’s Data-gathering App For iPhones Shut Down

Google’s audience-research app Screenwise Meter has been shut down and can longer be used on Apple devices. The app was part of Apple’s program for enterprise customers to test iOS apps internally with employees. The app was shut down because it violated Apple’s policies against distributing such apps to the public.

The Screenwise Meter app, launched in 2012, was designed to monitor users’ activities on their mobile devices. Google invited users aged 18 and above (or 13 and above in a family group) to install the app and the enterprise trust certificate with the organization’s Apple ID to earn rewards for sharing data from their apps and devices. Because Apple’s developer enterprise program is intended for organizations that want to test and distribute apps internally with staff, distributing the app to members of the public violated Apple’s conditions for the program.

The move by Google comes shortly after Apple revoked Facebook’s enterprise certificates for similar activities. The Facebook Research app invited users aged 13 to 35 years to install the app and earn rewards for sharing their data. Users were paid as much as $20 a month for giving the company access to their information.

There is speculation that Facebook released the app the way it did to sidestep the Apple app store’s more stringent privacy requirements. Apple said, “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.” Facebook maintains that it did nothing wrong.

Because Apple revoked all of Facebook’s enterprise certificates, more than just the research app was affected. Facebook also used the program legitimately to test non-public builds of Workplace, Workplace Chat, Instagram, and Messenger, as well as other projects. Some of the apps will be inaccessible for Facebook employees until Apple reinstates its certificates. There is no word yet on when that might be.

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