If it seems like every company out there these days is trying to track your web browsing, mobile usage and actual physical location history, it’s probably because they are. Usage history, location history and other related data are hugely important to advertisers, which try to build profiles of users in order to serve better targeted ads. Marketers have a million tricks up their collective sleeve when it comes to tracking you, but thanks to a smart new feature coming in iOS 8, iPhone users’ privacy will be guarded a bit more closely than other smartphone users.
Every device capable of connecting to the Internet has a MAC address that helps separate it from other gadgets connected to a network. This unique identifier can also be noted by marketers to track locations and usage habits — since MAC addresses are static, advertisers always know when your phone is connected to their networks.
Starting with iOS 8, however, that changes.
As noted by Quartz, swiss programmer Frederic Jacobs discovered that Apple’s iOS 8 software randomizes a device’s MAC address when it attempts to connect to a new network. This means that the MAC seen by the network, and therefore by marketers, is a random string that cannot be used to track your device.
iOS 8 randomises the MAC address while scanning for WiFi networks. Hoping that this becomes an industry standard. pic.twitter.com/oGsZMtydUo
— Frederic Jacobs (@FredericJacobs) June 8, 2014
iOS 8 is currently being beta tested, but the public will gain access to this great new privacy feature sometime this fall.
For more on Apple’s next-generation mobile software, be sure to check out our iOS 8 hub!