What's Up With Apple: Snapchat Dodges Apple Transparency, More Apps Booted

The update to iOS that includes a requirement that app developers give people the option of turning off tracking information is coming soon to an iPhone near you. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was not playing an April Fool’s joke when it used the word “requirement.”

Forbes reported on Friday that the App Store has begun to reject updates to iOS apps that don’t follow Apple’s condition that they allow people to disable an app from tracking them as they navigate the web. Forbes cited a French ride-hailing app called Heetch that was rejected by Apple for using a software development kit (SDK) that builds a device fingerprint ID that can be used to track people. An upgrade to an app for reading romance and fantasy fiction, Radish Fiction, has also reportedly been rejected. as has one app from game maker InnoGames.

Popular messaging app Snapchat reportedly will put up a fight. According to a report in the Financial Times, “Snap wanted to gather data from companies that analyse whether people have responded to ad campaigns, including aggregated IP addresses, the labels that identify devices connected to the internet.”

Citing “several people familiar with its plans,” Snap could then “take that data and cross-reference it against the information it holds on its own users to identify and track them, in a technique known as ‘probabilistic matching’.” Probabilistic matching is the same technology that the Adjust SDK uses.

Snap apparently believes that aggregating tracking data on “cohorts” of users remains within Apple’s Tracking Transparency rules. Apple’s rejection of other apps that use probabilistic matching does not augur well for Snap’s gambit.

According to Forbes, up to 50,000 apps using the Adjust SDK to build a device fingerprint ID may eventually be rejected. AppFigures, a website that tracks SDK usage, reports that 18% of App Store apps use the Adjust SDK. The App Store offers about 1.96 million apps, which means that more than 350,000 could be in jeopardy. Apple is expected to release iOS 14.5 this spring and potentially as early as this month.

One company that is not running afoul of Apple is Adobe Systems. The maker of Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and Audition has just released a beta version of its Illustrator drawing program that runs natively on Apple’s M1 CPU. Less than a month ago, Adobe released a final native version of Photoshop for the M1 chip, following a beta test that began last November.

Until developers rewrite their code specifically to run on the M1 chip, the applications will run on a software emulation program known as Rosetta. Because this is one more level removed from the hardware it runs slower than an application that talks directly to the silicon. Having native versions of Photoshop and Illustrator will boost the performance of those applications by up to 150%. Not all of Photoshop’s capabilities are available yet on the native version, and that likely also will be the case with Illustrator.