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Here’s why Apple is purging apps that help users fight iPhone addiction

Apple claims some of the popular third-party screen-time tracking apps were using “highly invasive technology” called Mobile Device Management, or MDM.

tech Updated: Apr 29, 2019 13:10 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Apple,Apple Screen-Time Apps,Screen-Time apps iOS
Research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.(REUTERS)

Apple has taken down or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded applications that help users fight iPhone addiction. The move has drawn backlash from app developers who claim Apple’s own screen-time tracker is not effective in fighting the addiction.

Apple claimed that the apps against which it took action were intrusive and had put users’ privacy at risk. The company pointed out that some of these applications were using a “highly invasive technology” called Mobile Device Management, or MDM.

In a blog post, Apple explained that MDM allows third-party apps to gain access to users’ devices and sensitive information such as location, app use, email accounts and browsing history among others.

“When we found out about these guideline violations, we communicated these violations to the app developers, giving them 30 days to submit an updated app to avoid availability interruption in the App Store. Several developers released updates to bring their apps in line with these policies. Those that didn’t were removed from the App Store,” wrote Apple in the post.

Apple also rejected the report that claimed the company was removing apps due to competition to its own native screen-time tracking feature.

“Apple has always supported third-party apps on the App Store that help parents manage their kids’ devices. Contrary to what The New York Times reported over the weekend, this isn’t a matter of competition. It’s a matter of security,” it added.

Apple’s move has drawn criticism from app developers. Freedom, one of the popular screen-time apps, was also at the receiving end of Apple’s crackdown. “Their incentives aren’t really aligned for helping people solve their problem,” said Fred Stutzman, Chief Executive of Freedom, which had been downloaded 770,000 times on App Store. “Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?”

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 10:37 IST