Apple sets deadline for retiring old device ID system

In an effort to boost user privacy, starting May 1 the tech giant will no longer accept new apps that access UDIDs. All new apps also must support iPhone 5 and Retina display.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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As of May 1, Apple will no longer accept new apps that access UDIDs. CBS Interactive

It's official. Apple will longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs. The company has set a May 1 deadline for this new policy.

"Starting May 1, the App Store will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs," Apple wrote on its developer Web site today. "Please update your apps and servers to associate users with the Vendor or Advertising identifiers introduced in iOS 6."

UDIDs are the unique string of numbers that individually identifies each iOS device. Typically, they have been used by developers as a way to track app installations across Apple's user base. By tracking users, companies can tailor advertising to each individual. However, tracking users also comes with a host of privacy concerns.

Theoretically, developers have known for more than a year that Apple's UDID change was coming. The company announced in March 2012 that it was beginning to roll out a rejection process for apps that access UDIDs.

When Apple launched iOS 6 last September, it built a new preference toggle called Advertising Identifier that lets users choose whether to be hit with targeted ads or not. As noted in its statement today, the company is pushing developers to use this technology, which doesn't access users' personal information.

The big question, however, is what about all of those apps that are already in Apple's App Store and currently access UDID? A source familiar with Apple's new policy told CNET that the company will not remove older apps that have not been updated to adhere to the policy.

In addition to setting a deadline for apps that access UDIDs, Apple also announced today that by May 1 all new apps and app updates must support Retina display and the longer, more slender iPhone 5.

"Starting May 1, new apps and app updates submitted to the App Store must be built for iOS devices with Retina display and iPhone apps must also support the 4-inch display on iPhone 5," Apple wrote on its developer Web site.