Google’s most popular iPhone apps have gone weeks without mandatory privacy labels or updates

Three weeks after Google he promised he would add Apple’s mandatory app privacy labels “as soon as this week,” none of the company’s core apps have the labels, including Gmail, Search, Photos, Docs, and YouTube.

There have been some questions to the fact that Google is intentionally not updating its apps to avoid labels, so I looked through all of the Google apps in the iOS App Store to find out if updates were on the way.

Some have: 12 apps now have iOS privacy labels, although they may not be as recognizable as YouTube or Gmail:

  • Stadia
  • Google translator
  • Google Authenticator
  • Google Play Movies and TV
  • Google Classroom
  • Google Fiber
  • Google Fiber TV
  • Wear OS
  • Onduo for diabetes
  • Baseline of the project
  • Google Smart Lock
  • Moving pictures – GIFs, collages

By clicking on the privacy labels, they seem to make sense. Some apps, like Google Authenticator, don’t capture a lot of information, while Google Translate and Classroom have a pretty sizable list of privacy warnings.

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is capturing all of this information just from opening the app. The privacy label only shows all the things the app can acquire depending on the features you use. And while you may have to scroll through the list a bit, it has nothing to do with Facebook’s seemingly endless list.

The privacy information for Authenticator fits on one screen.

Google promised long ago that it would start adding privacy labels to its apps on the App Store. They have now been added to Google Translate.

– Mitchell (@strawberrywell) January 26, 2021

There are some quirks, though. “Motion Stills – GIF, Collage” is an app that hasn’t been updated in three years, but has privacy labels. It’s probably fair to say that this wasn’t the app we had in mind when Google promised it would start rolling them out.

The privacy label for an app that hasn’t been updated in three years.

Apple launched these privacy labels on December 14, and companies like Google can no longer update their apps unless they add these privacy labels first. So when some people noticed that Google had stopped updating its apps, they speculated it might be to avoid having to admit how much data it was collecting.

Google denied this, however, explicitly telling TechCrunch that she wasn’t holding back updates and that she was committed to adding tags when those updates were ready. The company reaffirmed that promise in a blog post focusing on privacy January 12:

As Google’s iOS apps are updated with new features or to fix bugs, you will see updates to the listings on our app pages that include the new app privacy details. These labels represent the maximum categories of data that can be collected, i.e. if you use all the features and services available in the app.

They are coming out. It’s unclear when Google will update its most popular apps – the ones that likely absorb the most user data, however.


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