Apple Ditching the UDID for iDevices in iOS 5

By , Aug 20, 2011

A subtle change has been noticed in the iOS 5 beta. Apparently, Apple is changing the way that developers can access an iDevice’s unique identifier number. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a ‘UDID’ allows developers to identify app users on a specific, device by device basis.

In iOS 5, Apple is no longer allowing developers access to an iDevice’s UDID, but instead allowing developers to create app-specific UDIDs. This basically means that mobile ad and game networks won’t have access to your device’s specific number for tracking and inventory, which is the means that these systems have always worked off of in the past.

As TechCrunch notes, app developers will now have to start over from scratch to keep track of users in iOS 5.

Apple describes the change in its developer documentation:

Deprecated in iOS 5.0

uniqueIdentifier
An alphanumeric string unique to each device based on various hardware details. (read-only) (Deprecated in iOS 5.0. Instead, create a unique identifier specific to your app.)

The UDID is a huge tool for ad agencies when tracking mobile devices. If an iPhone has a unique identifier, that device’s (and its user’s) usage can be tracked from app to app. This system will no longer be in place for developers to take advantage of when iOS 5 hits the public this Fall. Essentially, ad agencies will only be able to track users through ‘web cookie’ of sorts, instead of the root-level method that’s currently used with a UDID.

Apple could theoretically prohibit third party developer access to UDIDs, but leave the serials available to Apple’s own networks, like Game Center and iAds. This move would give Apple’s proprietary technology an advantage on the iOS platform.

AppleInsider notes that this change in iDevice recognition will also heavily integrate with iCloud this Fall:

“The change will occur alongside the appearance of iCloud, which will allow apps that the user approves to share a unique key across devices using iCloud’s new Documents and Data feature. For example, a developer can use iCloud to customize the appearance or state of their app across the users’ devices by sharing key value data in the cloud.”

Another issue to wonder about is how this will effect the beta testing of third party apps. Currently, devs can send out UDID-specific copies of their apps to beta testers, but that could all change post-iOS 5.

Apple looks to be changing this protocol as a security act of good measure, and it will also promote iOS as a privacy conscious platform.

iOS developers: Why do you think Apple made this move in iOS 5? “Security” consciousness? Something else? We’re curious to hear your thoughts.

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  • Tyler Hauser

    My question is: How will this affect carrier-locked iPhones? If I’m reading that right and if I understand the whole process of locking and unlocking phones, if there’s no longer a UDID, how will the whole process work? How will this affect the whole software unlocking procedures?

    Or am I mixing up this UDID with a different ID number?

    • http://iOS5HACKS.COM Steve Jobs

      Unlocked Phones are Unlocked through IMEI Not UDID which is “required” for people to use developer software

      • Tyler Hauser

        Right on. That certainly clarifies things. Thanks, Steve!

  • Jack Anders

    No, your device will still have a UDID, but it will be no longer available for developers to see or use. Apple will still know the UDID and your iDevice will still have a UDID

    • Tyler Hauser

      Ah cool. Apparently I read this article too early in the morning. Thanks, Jack.

  • goofygreek

    Most likely a security issue. If app developers can track you, so could someone else. This just makes iOS just a little safer.

  • The Wizard’s Baker

    Fuck that

  • Ramy

    Fuck that :(

  • Amelia Elliott

    Thank you

  • pankaj

    I am still able to see my UDID when I connect my iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1.1 to
    iTunes