iOS 7: the other MAC announcement

By Thomas Sommer | June 11th, 2013
A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it's the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple's latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny.A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it's the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple's latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny.A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it's the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple's latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny.A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it's the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple's latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny. Now, beyond the mere product announcement, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers need to ask themselves how the new iOS will impact the way they work, especially in the field of attribution tracking.Everyone has in mind the slow deprecation and agony of the UDID, which started with iOS 5 in August 2011 and ended last May with Apple definitely rejecting all apps using this method of identification.Many developers have since then resorted to the other available device ID, the MAC address.This is where iOS 7 comes in.The new operating system, due to be available for the general public in the fall, was already released in beta version for developers and the pre-release notes include a small paragraph at the end:[caption id="attachment_661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Capture d’écran 2013-06-11 à 21.38.24 Click to enlarge[/caption]

"In iOS 7 and later, if you ask for the MAC address of an iOS device, the system returns the value 02:00:00:00:00:00. If you need to identify the device, use the identifierForVendor property of UIDevice instead. (Apps that need an identifier for their own advertising purposes should consider using the advertisingIdentifier property of ASIdentifierManager instead)."

In other words, apps will no longer be able to retrieve the device's MAC address in order to identify a user for advertising purposes. That's what the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising) is for. Contrary to the UDID and the MAC Address, the IDFA can be deactivated or reset by the user. This means in practice that from iOS 7 onwards, hard device identifiers will completely stop serving for advertising and tracking purposes.UPDATE: on June 7, AppsFire co-founder Yann Lechelle announced the deprecation of the openUDID, the open-source replacement to the UDID that he and the app discovery company started in September 2011 and which was rapidly adopted as a tracking standard across the industry. AppsFire says the advertisingIdentifier "works well" and advises developers to turn to the IDFA before Apple officially requires and enforces it.So, what's left? Developers and marketers sure need to learn to love and use Cupertino's "soft" proprietary device identifier.However, in the current state of things, fingerprinting solutions, such as HasOffers's, remain the only Apple-compliant method able to identify all sources of traffic, including mobile web.What do you think of Apple's latest move? Will it change anything for you? Let us know!Now, beyond the mere product announcement, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers need to ask themselves how the new iOS will impact the way they work, especially in the field of attribution tracking.Everyone has in mind the slow deprecation and agony of the UDID, which started with iOS 5 in August 2011 and ended last May with Apple definitely rejecting all apps using this method of identification.Many developers have since then resorted to the other available device ID, the MAC address.This is where iOS 7 comes in.The new operating system, due to be available for the general public in the fall, was already released in beta version for developers and the pre-release notes include a small paragraph at the end:[caption id="attachment_661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Capture d’écran 2013-06-11 à 21.38.24 Click to enlarge[/caption]

"In iOS 7 and later, if you ask for the MAC address of an iOS device, the system returns the value 02:00:00:00:00:00. If you need to identify the device, use the identifierForVendor property of UIDevice instead. (Apps that need an identifier for their own advertising purposes should consider using the advertisingIdentifier property of ASIdentifierManager instead)."

In other words, apps will no longer be able to retrieve the device's MAC address in order to identify a user for advertising purposes. That's what the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising) is for. Contrary to the UDID and the MAC Address, the IDFA can be deactivated or reset by the user. This means in practice that from iOS 7 onwards, hard device identifiers will completely stop serving for advertising and tracking purposes.UPDATE: on June 7, AppsFire co-founder Yann Lechelle announced the deprecation of the openUDID, the open-source replacement to the UDID that he and the app discovery company started in September 2011 and which was rapidly adopted as a tracking standard across the industry. AppsFire says the advertisingIdentifier "works well" and advises developers to turn to the IDFA before Apple officially requires and enforces it.So, what's left? Developers and marketers sure need to learn to love and use Cupertino's "soft" proprietary device identifier.However, in the current state of things, fingerprinting solutions, such as HasOffers's, remain the only Apple-compliant method able to identify all sources of traffic, including mobile web.What do you think of Apple's latest move? Will it change anything for you? Let us know!Now, beyond the mere product announcement, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers need to ask themselves how the new iOS will impact the way they work, especially in the field of attribution tracking.Everyone has in mind the slow deprecation and agony of the UDID, which started with iOS 5 in August 2011 and ended last May with Apple definitely rejecting all apps using this method of identification.Many developers have since then resorted to the other available device ID, the MAC address.This is where iOS 7 comes in.The new operating system, due to be available for the general public in the fall, was already released in beta version for developers and the pre-release notes include a small paragraph at the end:[caption id="attachment_661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Capture d’écran 2013-06-11 à 21.38.24 Click to enlarge[/caption]

"In iOS 7 and later, if you ask for the MAC address of an iOS device, the system returns the value 02:00:00:00:00:00. If you need to identify the device, use the identifierForVendor property of UIDevice instead. (Apps that need an identifier for their own advertising purposes should consider using the advertisingIdentifier property of ASIdentifierManager instead)."

In other words, apps will no longer be able to retrieve the device's MAC address in order to identify a user for advertising purposes. That's what the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising) is for. Contrary to the UDID and the MAC Address, the IDFA can be deactivated or reset by the user. This means in practice that from iOS 7 onwards, hard device identifiers will completely stop serving for advertising and tracking purposes.UPDATE: on June 7, AppsFire co-founder Yann Lechelle announced the deprecation of the openUDID, the open-source replacement to the UDID that he and the app discovery company started in September 2011 and which was rapidly adopted as a tracking standard across the industry. AppsFire says the advertisingIdentifier "works well" and advises developers to turn to the IDFA before Apple officially requires and enforces it.So, what's left? Developers and marketers sure need to learn to love and use Cupertino's "soft" proprietary device identifier.However, in the current state of things, fingerprinting solutions, such as HasOffers's, remain the only Apple-compliant method able to identify all sources of traffic, including mobile web.What do you think of Apple's latest move? Will it change anything for you? Let us know!Now, beyond the mere product announcement, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers need to ask themselves how the new iOS will impact the way they work, especially in the field of attribution tracking.Everyone has in mind the slow deprecation and agony of the UDID, which started with iOS 5 in August 2011 and ended last May with Apple definitely rejecting all apps using this method of identification.Many developers have since then resorted to the other available device ID, the MAC address.This is where iOS 7 comes in.The new operating system, due to be available for the general public in the fall, was already released in beta version for developers and the pre-release notes include a small paragraph at the end:[caption id="attachment_661" align="alignnone" width="640"]Capture d’écran 2013-06-11 à 21.38.24 Click to enlarge[/caption]

"In iOS 7 and later, if you ask for the MAC address of an iOS device, the system returns the value 02:00:00:00:00:00. If you need to identify the device, use the identifierForVendor property of UIDevice instead. (Apps that need an identifier for their own advertising purposes should consider using the advertisingIdentifier property of ASIdentifierManager instead)."

In other words, apps will no longer be able to retrieve the device's MAC address in order to identify a user for advertising purposes. That's what the IDFA (Identifier For Advertising) is for. Contrary to the UDID and the MAC Address, the IDFA can be deactivated or reset by the user. This means in practice that from iOS 7 onwards, hard device identifiers will completely stop serving for advertising and tracking purposes.UPDATE: on June 7, AppsFire co-founder Yann Lechelle announced the deprecation of the openUDID, the open-source replacement to the UDID that he and the app discovery company started in September 2011 and which was rapidly adopted as a tracking standard across the industry. AppsFire says the advertisingIdentifier "works well" and advises developers to turn to the IDFA before Apple officially requires and enforces it.So, what's left? Developers and marketers sure need to learn to love and use Cupertino's "soft" proprietary device identifier.However, in the current state of things, fingerprinting solutions, such as HasOffers's, remain the only Apple-compliant method able to identify all sources of traffic, including mobile web.What do you think of Apple's latest move? Will it change anything for you? Let us know!

Thomas Sommer
Thomas heads up content marketing at AppLift. As such he’s in charge of sourcing, curating, creating and distributing insightful content to increase visibility and thought leadership for the company. Thomas loves to scrutinize the relentless and trilling developments of the mobile industry. You can follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thomas