Apple, Facebook, Google and many more companies have come under criticism in the past when it comes to users privacy, although it would appear that Apple has made changes to iOS 8 that will improve security and also user privacy.
Apple’s iOS device are continually scanning for WiFi connections, and companies use WiFi networks to track users, for example a shopping mall may track users, Quartz explains what these companies are up to below.
In shopping malls, for instance, a firm called Euclid Analytics collects, in its own words, “the presence of the device, its signal strength, its manufacturer (Apple, Samsung, etc.), and a unique identifier known as its Media Access Control (MAC) address.” In London last year, one start-up installed a dozen recycling bins that sniffed MAC addresses from passers-by, effectively tracking people through the area via their phones.
Companies like Euclid or its peer Turnstyle Solutions use the data to track footfall in stores, how people move about in shops, how long they linger in certain sections, and how often they return. Store-owners use the information to target shoppers with offers (paywall) or to move high-value items to highly-trafficked parts of the shop, among other things.
These changes to the Mac addresses on Apple iOS device, will mean that these companies will no longer be able to track people around their shopping malls or stores.
This is interesting because it will provide improved user privacy, but there is also another up side for Apple by effectively blocking these companies from tracking you, and it is called iBeacon.
iBeacon is an indoor proximity system, that can send you push notifications, companies and shops can use iBeacon to to send you offers when you are near their store or when you enter their store, as long as you have agreed to use iBeacon on your device.
As these companies will no longer be able to track you as they once could, this would mean that stores would have less data to be able to market products to their customers, and one solution to this would be to use Apple’s iBeacon to market their products to nearby Apple device.
The main difference between iBeacon, and what these companies are doing at the moment, is that Apple’s iBeacon does not collect any data, it is designed to only send you notification and not collect information about you.
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