Apple Forces Developers to Remove Screen Recording Code From iOS Apps [Update]

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Yesterday, TechCrunch discovered that multiple popular iPhone apps from major companies are using intrusive analytics services that capture data ranging from taps and swipes to full screen recordings, all without customers knowing about it.


    Today, Apple has informed app developers that this kind of screen recording analytics code needs to be clearly disclosed to customers or removed from iOS apps. From an Apple spokesperson's email to TechCrunch:
    At least one developer has already been told to remove the code that recorded app activities. From an email to the developer:
    Apple is serious about getting rid of this code and gave the developer in question less than a day to remove it and resubmit the app before it would be pulled from the App Store.

    High-profile apps like Abercrombie & Fitch,, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines are using Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm with a "session replay" screen recording feature.

    Session replays are designed to let developers screenshot or record or a user's screen and then play back those recordings to see how users interact with their apps. Taps, button pushes, and keyboard entries are all captured and provided to app developers.

    None of the apps above disclosed that they were recording a user's screen in their privacy policies, which is apparently in violation of Apple's App Store rules.

    Apple also requires apps that record the screen to have a little red icon on the top left corner of the phone to make it clear that the screen is being recorded, and it sounds like Apple is going to enforce this rule for this kind of analytics tracking.

    Most likely, apps will need to remove this feature because customers are not going to willingly use an app that's recording everything that they're doing and displaying a persistent red icon while the app is open.

    There are many other analytics companies that have similar practices like Appsee and UXCam, so there are undoubtedly many more apps that are using these secret screen recording features without customer knowledge.

    Update: Glassbox, the company that many apps use for screen recording analytics capabilities, provided the following statement to MacRumors on the issue:

    "TechCrunch's piece raised valid concerns. Yet we believe it is partial and doesn't adequately convey the many benefits for our customers and their users; or reflect the security and privacy capabilities inherent in Glassbox.

    Glassbox and its customers are not interested in "spying" on consumers. Our goals are to improve online customer experiences and to protect consumers from a compliance perspective. Since its inception, Glassbox has helped organizations improve millions of customer experiences by providing tools that record and analyze user activity on web sites and apps. This information helps companies better understand how consumers are using their services, and where and why they are struggling.

    We are strong supporters of user privacy and security. Glassbox provides its customers with the tools to mask every element of personal data. We firmly believe that our customers should have clear policies in place so that consumers are aware that their data is being recorded -- just as contact centers inform users that their calls are being recorded.

    Furthermore: No data collected by Glassbox customers is shared with third parties, nor enriched through other external sources.
    Glassbox meets the highest security and data privacy standards and regulations (e.g. SOC2, GDPR), and all data captured via our solution is highly secured and encrypted.

    We provide our customers with the ability to mask every piece of data entered by a consumer, restrict access to authorized users, and maintain a full audit log of every user accessing the system.

    We don't simply record data and provide customers with session replay. Brands come to us because Glassbox means source-proof, tamper-proof, encrypted records of digital activity. These characteristics make Glassbox invaluable, not to 'spy' on customers, but to (a) aid in creating the best and easiest digital journey, and (b) protect both brands and customers with evidential truth that allows for safe and compliant digital experiences."

    Article Link: Apple Forces Developers to Remove Screen Recording Code From iOS Apps [Update]
  2. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
  3. Heineken macrumors 6502a


    Jan 27, 2018
  4. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

    Apr 11, 2014
    What on God good's earth is this?

  5. omihek macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Immediate action is necessary! Pull the apps right now and don't let them back in until they are following the guidelines.
  6. nouveau_redneck macrumors regular


    Sep 16, 2017
    Deep in the desert
  7. dannyyankou macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    Good job Apple. I would’ve just pulled the apps immediately, but still quick response.
  8. ghostface147 macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2008
    I'd still like to know a full list of the apps that did this. From what I've read, the only six being mentioned were put in the context of some apps like Expedia and such and such.
  9. niji, Feb 7, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019

    niji Contributor


    Feb 9, 2003
    apple is being unusually responsive lately to the general user community.
    who within apple directed this change?
    how can we keep this going?
    was this simply caused by the Xs and even Xr failure to incorrectly read markets' pricing limits?
    or, is this more caused by apple's sensing that it alone has an even greater marketing advantage vs. competitors if it continues to try to do as much as possible to preserve users' privacy?
    anyway, its wonderful, and am glad apple took action.
  10. omihek macrumors 6502


    May 3, 2014
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Any reason why Apple waits until the media makes a big deal about it before doing anything about it? Calculator bug, Group FaceTime bug, etc. Come on, Apple. Get it together. I'm starting to feel like everything they do is a PR stunt. Like if this information wasn't released to the public Apple would have just let the apps continue recording all our screens.
  11. e1me5 macrumors regular


    Jun 11, 2013
    That walled garden of the App store really has some holes on the fence.
  12. Seanm87 macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Apple seems to be having to do stuff like this every week lately. Privacy just seems to have gone completely out the window.
  13. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    More importantly, how did Apple miss this in their review? Why is it lately incumbent on journalists to police this kind of stuff?
  14. MagMan1979 macrumors member


    May 4, 2015
    More than likely, nothing, as their users are the product, and they need to keep tabs on how the products perform and interact with their software...
  15. KCMichaelB macrumors member

    Jul 16, 2008
    Kansas, USA
    Why wasn't this discovered during the review process?
  16. 1woodwrking macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2019
    sounds wonderful. BUT. Think about the time relativity as it relates to when this was known and and when AND what was done with the information garnered. AIs can now be developed around the info gathered that can circle the information wagon with out needing an app. For which my question is: Apple gains your trust on the wings of a double agent AI spy? APPLE as well as and especially google need to tell us what information was taken and when and what was done with that information. The very concept of privacy and true accountability is coming to a quick end as artificial intels are built with stolen information. We should be able to sue heavily for damages and use high tech analysis firms to determine the damage done based on the warranty of freedom under the constitution.
  17. apolloa, Feb 7, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019

    apolloa macrumors G4

    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    Sorry but can’t see Apple being anything other then hypocritical now with security and iOS, and they will have known this was going in most likely for years.
    Or was it another big reported to Apple and ignored?

    I bet this feature has been going on for years as it seems to be thought of as standard practice by the devs? Apple certainly are more then happy for your actions and data in games to be recorded and sold, that’s been going on for years and years.
    Yet when these other security stories hit the media, all of a sudden Apple takes action and ‘apparently’ are wonderful for taking said action, even if it is several years too late.

    Yet again my favourite link that everyone ignores:

    That interview is now nearly four years old...
  18. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    For some here, no matter what Apple does or doesn't do, it just isn't good enough. There sure are a lot of armchair CEO's etc. who seem to have an immediate answer and split-second reaction and fix time for everything that hits Apple. Many of you should put your keyboards to action and apply to Apple. I bet your tune changes to a different song.

    I am glad Apple took action.
  19. DynoRunnerr macrumors newbie

    Jan 29, 2019
    Have fun on your Android buddy. They will never eliminate screen recording on androids. never never!
  20. Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

    Oct 6, 2017
  21. brandonboo20 macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2012
    Noblesville, IN
    Good for Apple. Really have to appreciate their stance on privacy.
  22. givemeanapple macrumors Demi-God


    Oct 2, 2016
    Took them a media title highlight for them to take action. Why even accept the apps in the first place? I thought all Apps would be reviewed and then approved/rejected?
  23. Baymowe335, Feb 7, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019

    Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

    Oct 6, 2017
    It seems like that when you’re the only company in tech that gives a rip about privacy.

    Not going to be much privacy news in the Google (Android), Facebook, and Amazon worlds because anything goes and data collection is their business. It’s just business as usual at those companies.
  24. WatchFromAfar macrumors 65832


    Jan 26, 2017
    Let's say I'm "Google" and I have at least 80% of all mobile traffic. Why wouldn't I say "Hey, you know those apps that you can't use on an iPhone? Guess what you can use them over on Android!! (psssst. as long as you agree to their T&C)
  25. Heineken macrumors 6502a


    Jan 27, 2018
    Probably because it is not easy.

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