- Apple restored Facebook's and Google's internal, employee-only apps to iPhones and iPads after blocking them this week for violating developer policies on how to handle personal data, TechCrunch reported. The temporary suspensions highlighted Apple's campaign to demonstrate how the tech giant is working to protect the personal privacy of its users.
- Apple on Thursday halted iOS apps used by Google employees after the search giant acknowledged it had used an app to collect data from consumers who volunteered to provide information about their internet use in exchange for gift cards. The day before, Apple targeted Facebook for data gathering that also used Apple's system for internal apps.
- The suspensions didn't affect any apps that consumers downloaded from Apple's App Store. Google employees had lost access to the employee-only iOS versions of pre-launch test apps for YouTube, Gmail and Calendar, among others, TechCrunch reported.
Apple's temporary suspensions of Facebook and Google's employee-only apps again brings attention to the differences among their companies' data-privacy policies. Facebook and Google depend on massive data-collection efforts to provide advertisers with more effective audience targeting, but both companies have endured data breaches that exposed people's personal information to third parties.
The suspensions also demonstrate the power that Apple has over rivals that depend on access to more than 900 million iPhones globally. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for stricter privacy laws while touting Apple's strengths in selling devices rather than relying on advertising for revenue. Facebook and Google have lobbied against stronger data-privacy laws in the United States. Apple and Google also have business ties. Investment bank Goldman Sachs estimated that Google pays Apple $12 billion a year to be the default search engine on Apple's Safari web browser.
Apple's conflicts with Facebook and Google are likely to be heightened as the iPhone maker seeks to expand its services business amid a maturing smartphone market. Facebook's apps have services that compete with similar Apple services for reading news, messaging and sharing photos. Google's Gmail and Drive cloud storage are more popular than Apple's similar services, The Wall Street Journal reported. Apple this week had its own privacy problem after its Group FaceTime video-chat function was revealed to have a bug that let people eavesdrop on others without their knowledge. Apple quickly shut down the feature and said it expected to fix the problem within the week.