broken iphone

Apple Tracking Solved

Benjamin CB

8/28/2019 2:00 PM

Device Detection Apple iOS iPhone ipad Analysis News

iOS 12.2, 13 and iPadOS 13 iPhone and iPad device detection

Laws exist to prevent the tracking of individuals without their consent. In the UK, the jurisdiction 51Degrees operate in, the Information Commissioner's Office and GDPR are the most relevant. Regulators appear to have the resources needed to hand out hefty fines to those infringing. Consumers expect to be in control of their privacy and support regulation. There is a big incentive for businesses to behave responsibly.

Apple came at the problem from a different angle. April 2019 saw the introduction of iOS 12.2 which removed many of the subtle features used to identify devices and reduce fraud in Safari and other iOS web browsers. This is part of a deliberate tracking prevention policy adopted by Apple.

Not only did prior versions of 51Degrees device detection (and all other competitors) degrade in accuracy but fraud prevention solutions used by financial organizations suffered as well.

post office image
Popular UK banking brand Post Office prohibits on-line payment on iOS 12.2 and higher.

In the UK Post Office is one of the most popular consumer banks. At the time of writing the Post Office web site can't be used for web payments on almost every Apple device. Apple advise in the WebKit tracking prevent policy of such 'unintended impact'. Customers may still need to be convinced.

webkit tracking prevention policy excerpt
Excerpt from Apple's WebKit Tracking Prevention Policy

Many estimates of fraudulent web traffic vary between 30% and 40%. Banks, retailers, publishers and advertisers must protect themselves from malicious individuals to remain profitable and compliant with the consumer protection and financial laws. GDPR is not the only law they are concerned about.

Ideally 51Degrees would like to see Apple work with such businesses to unify their approach to tracking, detection and fraud prevention across apps (which are far less restrictive than web) and web. In the absence of such collaboration, increasingly innovative solutions are required. 51Degrees offers such a solution.

Future Proof

51Degrees' upgraded device detection uses a mixture of techniques to identify models of iPad and iPhone with over 99% accuracy. Only techniques which Apple would find very hard to degrade or remove without breaking major web sites completely, a move that 51Degrees suspect would not be acceptable to most Apple customers, were chosen. As such the solution is considered future proof, but nothing can be taken for granted.

Applications

51Degrees' upgraded device detection solution can be used to:

  1. Prevent Fraud - Support fraud identification solutions reliant on some knowledge of the target device.
  2. Fix Analytics - Fix holes in analytics solution that are unable to attribute desktop, mobile and tablet traffic correctly.
  3. Insight - Add insights missing in many performance and analytics solution such as price of the device, age, video support, physical screen size, and chipsets.

A couple of hours of a developer's time is all that is needed to roll out the solution and see what differences can be obtained for any sizable web business. Developers wishing to find out more about the techniques used, history and deployment options can read the following blogs:

The full Apple identification solution is part of 51Degrees device detection suite of services. Save the hassle of rolling your own solution and deploy 51Degrees today and get access to over 55,000 different device models with associated properties.