Why hasn’t Google updated its iOS apps since early December

Get a free Techzine subscription!

Observers believe it is because of Apple’s requirement for privacy “nutrition labels”.

Last month, Apple introduced a new standardized privacy certification requirement in the App Store. The policy requires all apps to inform users about some of the data types that apps may collect. Apple told developers they must also clearly state whether the app uses data to profile or track them.

Apple required all developers to provide this info to Apple when submitting new apps and app updates to the App Store starting on December 8, 2020.

Interestingly, Google has not updated a single one of their iOS apps since December 7, one day before Apple’s privacy certification policy went into effect.

A month without a single update is very unusual

As reported by Fast Company, the one month freeze on updates is an unusually long period for Google not to release even a minor bug fix or stability update for one of its dozens of insanely popular iPhone and iPad apps.

This has meant no updates to major Google apps like Google Drive, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Sheets, YouTube Music, Google Duo, Google Authenticator, and Gboard.

What this means for Google App users on iOS

Users can view an app’s privacy label on an app’s App Store listing page. The feature is part of Apple’s push to make developers be more transparent in the ways they collect and use user data, so users can make more informed choices about the apps they choose to download.

As a result of the update freeze, all Google apps still say “No Details Provided” under the new privacy section in the App Store. There is also a notice that “the developer will be required to provide privacy details when they submit their next app update.”

Google has yet to comment on the report, so the reason for the lack of recent iOS app updates is unconfirmed, but Fast Company report makes the likely point that Google might be trying to delay revealing its privacy label information.

This seems a reasonable assumption, especially after the negative attention that Facebook received over its very lengthy privacy label.