Turns out it wasn’t just Facebook that was skirting the rules with its internal iOS app distribution.
The Verge reports that Apple has pulled Google’s enterprise certificates, the installation clearance that allows employees to use internal-use iOS appplications without placing them on the App Store. Google was identified to have broken Apple’s rules by having consumers install a private app.
Google told Bloomberg that it is working with Apple to resolve the situation.[alert variation=”alert-warning”]Update: Google has told TechCrunch that its internal apps are being restored and that the company is continuing to work with Apple. [/alert]
Apple also sent a statement to BuzzFeed News with similar sentiments.
Apple statement on this: “We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly.” https://t.co/Rm64fa2uqC
— John Paczkowski (@JohnPaczkowski) January 31, 2019
The move comes as Google stopped distributing an internal-use app to the public. Screenwise Meter started as a Chrome browser extension and was used to collect data about users’ internet browsing. Eventually, an app was made for iOS. It targeted users 18 or older, but allowed anyone as young as 13 to be tracked if they were in the same household as a participating adult. Users were compensated with gift cards.
Google sent a statement to The Verge when it pulled Screenwise Meter for iOS app:
The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.
The company disabled the Screenwise Meter for iOS app in the wake of Apple’s revocation of Facebook’s Enterprise Certificate — it had distributed an internal app to beta testers. The app, called “Research” was similar to Screenwise Meter in that it collected internet browsing as well as private phone use data with users’ consent.
In a late development, Facebook has told The Verge that it has had its enterprise certificates restored.
Other companies may be at jeopardy of facing disruption with their internal iOS apps. Developer Alex Fajokwski has pointed out apps from Amazon, DoorDash and Sonos that have been distributed to the public with enterprise certificates.
Also, here’s the link to DoorDash showing how they distribute an app to non-employees via the Enterprise Developer program: https://t.co/ktdeDi6eEl
— Alex Fajkowski (@thefaj) January 31, 2019
Enterprise certificates allow organizations to run product testing on new iOS apps or future software updates. They also can be programmed for internal communications, logistics and other uses.