Google Hasn’t Updated Any Of Its iOS Apps In A Month

Posted on January 5, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Dev, Google, iOS, Mobile with 19 Comments

Google hasn’t updated any of its iOS apps since December 7, the day before a new Apple App Store privacy policy went into effect. Coincidence?


There are multiple reports about this phenomenon, but they appear to have originated at Fast Company, which I believe was the first to note that Google stopped updating its iOS apps on December 7. Apple previously explained to developers that they would need to submit privacy information with any new or updated iOS app versions starting on December 8.

“On each app’s product page, users can learn about some of the data types the app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them,” Apple explains to its developers. “You’ll need to provide information about your app’s privacy practices, including the practices of third-party partners whose code you integrate into your app.”

The natural assumption here is that Apple’s new requirements to divulge tracking data collected by apps is what’s tripping up Google. After all, Google makes the vast majority of its revenues by quietly tracking its users on mobile and the web and then selling that information to advertisers.

Google hasn’t yet commented on this issue.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Google Hasn’t Updated Any Of Its iOS Apps In A Month”

  1. remc86007

    This could get ugly quick. Most of Google's apps can be replaced with a viable alternative on IOS, but as far as I know, the problem app is Youtube. I haven't been on IOS for a while, but last time I checked, there are no alternatives on IOS to use Youtube. This could end up being like Windows Phone all over again. I don't think it will go that far though because Google needs IOS users. I imagine they are larger portion of their US revenue.

  2. donaldhall3

    As a former Googler (and former Microsoft) I can tell you that I don't use any Google products. Google isn't an honest company.

  3. scovious

    Google refusing to develop software for competitor platforms? What else is new?

  4. wunderbar

    And here we have it, Google confirms to TechCrunch that it will be bringing the required privacy labels to iOS apps beginning late this week or early next week when it resumes pushing app updates after the holiday break.

  5. briantlewis

    A lot of it is probably end of the year change freezes.

  6. yoshi

    I noticed this about a week ago. Normally there is at least a YouTube update once a week. Part of my “things to change” for 2021 was to use less Google services. I lasted 4 whole days before I gave up and installed all the Google apps again. I love and hate this company.

  7. illuminated

    Both companies could be negotiating right now. Apple has a real conflict of interest here. Google is paying Apple a LOT. I doubt that Google would just publish everything they do or stop tracking everything they can. I also doubt that Apple has enough guts to throw Google out. Google is no Epic Most people are doing perfectly fine without any privacy but would really hate to have no access to search or maps.

  8. esmcelroy

    I love a good conspiracy, especially one involving the big G. But, while there is certainly some merit to the idea that google is slacking on updates for privacy issues, this might just be a staffing problem.

    Consider: Google's employees are subject to typical vacation policies, and with the world shut down from March to now, when/how would all those jet-setting googlers spend their holidays with nowhere to go?

    This leads to giant vacation carryover balances, which hurt the bottom line, as payouts and time expiry happen in some jurisdictions, unless you ask your staff to take off time til the end of the year - it's certainly possible enough google staff (including the lawyers!) were stuck taking time off instead of updating apps.

    If the app update embargo continues deep into January, it could be the former, but I suspect it's the latter.

  9. behindmyscreen

    *selling access to demographics based on that information.

  10. wunderbar

    I don't think any of my google apps on Android have updated in a month either. I'm sure the privacy changes are part of it, but developers really slow down in December and early January, on all platforms.

    I generally have 15-20 apps that have been updated within the last 3 days on Android, a rolling number, and between Christmas day and new years day there were zero app updates, and as of this second I've had 4 app updates in the last 3 days.

    So yes, I'm sure there's some truth to the iOS privacy stuff, but the answer could also just as easily be Holiday breaks.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Google's apps have been updating this week on Android. Gboard, Google Translate, Android System, Google Drive, etc. all updated over the past 24-48 hours.
  11. colin79666

    There is also the small matter of the Christmas/New Year period that usually means a slowdown in development as people take time off.

    • Paul Thurrott

      This is the first time this has ever happened.
    • nerdile

      In reply to colin79666:

      Locking down prior to and through key consumer purchasing, unboxing, and increased utilization periods (Singles Day, Black Friday, Christmas through New Years) is a standard practice for consumer products and services. The times before these periods are spent on hardening and scalability testing. Changes and new features are strongly discouraged, as they may invalidate the findings from the scalability testing.

      Still - how does this compare to apps from Microsoft?

  12. sammyg

    Good thing I don't use any :). I will get the popcorn and watch what goes down here. I would imagine it's a tough call right now for Google with the legal microscope they are under.

    Of course they DO NOT want to give away what they do/collect. If they trigger a bunch of warnings on user devices then that is just ammunition for the legal battles. If they don't update them then the question becomes why.

  13. bkkcanuck

    Google was likely going to be mostly shut down from mid-December to the new year anyway. It could be they just organized the prior update to be fully tested and released before that Dec 8th date as being the last update that year. With the pandemic in place and people working from home, more people probably failed to use up their required holidays before year end so you would see a year end surge over the normal surge for taking holidays - which would leave Google with a bare bones operation through the end of the year. I know the company I and doing work for was really really bare bones since I was working while I would say 90%+ were not at the end of the year (I don't have corporate 'holidays' only what I give myself - which I tend to schedule during the months when there is less billable work to be had). Usually it is around 50% or 60% at that time for that company.

  14. will

    While Apple is not perfect and they have things they need to improve, I give them credit for shaking things up.

  15. illuminated

    In reply to lvthunder:

    It may take google more than month to even make the list of info they are collecting. I do not Google want to disclose everything, It could be scary. People may freak out.

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