Unhappy developers pen letter to Apple over iOS 13 privacy changes

A group of unhappy developers have penned a scathing letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook over privacy changes made in iOS 13. In their letter, the developers even accuse Apple of anti-competitive behaviour with changes as to how apps can access users’ location data.

Many apps which require location data today ask the user to “Always Allow” when the app is first launched. Such an overarching permission often gives apps more access to a user’s location data than is required for the app’s functioning.

Apple is clamping down in iOS 13 with a new option to “Allow Once” so users can test a downloaded app before granting permission to always provide location data. The new option will appear alongside “Allow While Using App” and “Don’t Allow” selections.

In their letter, the developers argue less technically-savvy users will assume their new app isn’t functioning correctly.

Users often make fairly quick decisions on whether to keep or uninstall a new app. If the app seems like it’s not working, or even requires the user to start playing around with iOS’ own settings, then it’s quite likely that user will not be retained.

The developers highlight that Apple’s own apps don’t require explicit permissions, which is where the claims of anti-competitive practices come in.

“As Apple expands into additional services, some of which compete with developers like us, the need for a level playing field becomes ever more critical to allow the ecosystem to flourish,” the developers wrote.

With Apple already facing increasing backlash for not offering alternative app stores to be installed – therefore enforcing the 30 percent cut it takes from purchases – it’s understandable that some find Apple’s practices questionable.

The letter was signed by Tile CEO CJ Prober; Arity (Allstate) president Gary Hallgren; CEO of Life360, Chris Hullsan; CEO of dating app Happn, Didier Rappaport; CEO of Zenly (Snap), Antoine Martin; CEO of Zendrive, Jonathan Matus; and chief strategy officer of social networking app Twenty, Jared Allgood.

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