The new privacy prerequisites Apple’s introduced with iOS 14 have left many of its rivals unhappy. Now, it looks like Google has been stalling on updating its iOS apps for services like Google Photos, Google Maps, and Gmail.
A new report from The Guardian explains that Google has been flagging its very own iOS apps for being “out of date” despite no updates being available for them. Many have received messaged from the company itself to update their apps — even though no update exists.
“You should update this app,” the message said. “The version you’re using doesn’t include the latest security features to keep you protected. Only continue if you understand the risks.”
A Google spokeswoman said the messages appeared because of a bug and the warnings have stopped showing up. The apps, however, still haven’t been updated.
Since December, Apple has required app developers on its iOS platform to provide “nutrition labels” that tell people what personal data their apps are collecting, like financial information, contacts or browsing history. Google, however, hasn’t provided labels for most of its apps.
If Google is intentionally slacking on updating these iOS apps out of hostility to Apple’s privacy mandates, the company is putting its own users at risk.
Blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote that if this is Google’s strategy, it will backfire eventually. According to Gruber, Google might be trying to “wait Apple out — that public pressure from iPhone owners who use Google apps will result in Apple conceding to better terms for what Google needs to admit to in its nutrition labels.” But he adds, “I don’t see that working.”
Apple’s privacy updates have caused other dustups in the tech industry. Another change by Apple, rolling out in the coming months, requires developers to ask people for permission to gather data and track them across apps and websites. The change has riled Facebook, prompting a war of words between CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“Apple may say that they’re doing this to help people, but the moves clearly track their competitive interests,” Zuckerberg said in January during an earnings call. Cook says the Cupertino company believes that “users should have the choice over the data that is being collected about them and how it’s used.”