Google Continues to Drag on iOS App Updates

Posted on February 11, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Google, iOS, iPadOS, Mobile with 21 Comments

With Apple implementing a privacy disclosure for apps in its iOS App Store, Google has dragged its feet coming clean about how much it tracks its users. And it’s starting to cause problems.

In early January, I reported that Google hadn’t updated any of its apps on iOS (and iPadOS) since early December, the day before a new Apple App Store privacy policy went into effect. That policy requires app makers to provide a privacy dashboard in their app listings in the store that details which data each app collects and tracks.

But since then, Google has only updated a handful of apps and only very recently: The Google Fiber, Play Movies & TV, and Translate apps were updated in very late January, and the Google Authenticator and Stadia apps have been updated since then. But major Google apps like Gmail, Drive, Maps, Photos, Search, and YouTube still haven’t been updated since early December.

This week, Google app users on iOS started seeing warning messages related to out-of-date apps when they tried to sign-in to their Google accounts.

“You should update this app,” the message reads. “The version you’re using doesn’t include the latest security features to keep you protected. Only continue if you understand the risks.”

As it turns out, this message was a bug, and Google has since fixed it. But after months of leaving its most popular apps unpatched, one wonders what’s taking so long. Are these apps really such data tracking monsters that Google is worried about disclosing what they really do?

Google’s not talking. All it will say, for now, is that it will add the privacy dashboard to its iOS/iPadOS apps the next time they’re updated. Whenever that will be.

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