A Hidden Feature In iOS 8 Will Stop Marketers From Spying On You

A Hidden Feature in iOS 8 Will Stop Marketers From Spying On You

Mobile marketing companies slurp up your info during moments of desperation: When you're scanning for a free Wi-Fi network, whether at the shopping centre, airport or footy game. A small detail in iOS 8 is going to make that a whole lot harder -- but Apple may have an ulterior motive.

When your phone scans for networks, it sends out a MAC address that contains an identifier unique to your phone. Your MAC address is a little bit like a tagging device -- it lets companies know things like your phone make, as well as whether you're a repeat customer at a certain store. That's how they use it to recommend deals based on your habits, just like London's failed program to use smart rubbish bins to track consumers using MAC addresses last year.

But as a Swiss programmer named Frederic Jacobs pointed out on Twitter yesterday, iOS 8 contains a little MAC address change with big implications. It automatically randomises MAC addresses. That would mean that marketing companies wouldn't be able to track your patterns at all.

It's definitely good news. But does it mean that Apple has somehow come out against these insidious companies? Not exactly.

In fact, you could even speculate that barring MAC address-slurping companies from targeting Apple users is a way to bolster their own location-aware Bluetooth notification project: iBeacon. As Apple Insider pointed out last week, Apple is making a major push to revamp it, piloting a program that will ping users walking near the Apple Store or Starbucks.

So while randomising MAC addresses will make you invisible to mobile marketers, don't rejoice just yet -- iBeacon may be waiting in the wings. [Qz]

Picture: joyfull

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Comments

    I'm assuming you can turn this off right?
    What if you use a router set to only use an approve list of MAC addresses?

      Yeah an an apple a day keeps Mac away...

    A Hidden Feature In iOS 8 Will Stop Non Apple Marketers From Spying On You

    There. fixed it for you.

    If I remember correctly didn't ios8 have the ability to tell you if you are near starbucks? or something to that effect?

    This way only Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, the NSA, Microsoft, the Government of Turkey, the guy next door, and practically anyone with an internet connection will be able to spy on you and then sell your information to marketers.

    Good job Apple you successfully made your supply of customer information more valuable by making it slightly harder to get

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