Google has not updated a single app on its roster, for the Apple iPhone, for four weeks or more now. That, in this day and age, is an abnormally long time to leave an app untouched without updates, bug fixes or functionality tweaks. Unless all of Google’s apps for the iPhone are absolutely perfect and perfection doesn’t need any updates, it seems a tad perplexing why this is happening. At the time of writing this, popular apps including Google Search, Gmail, Google Chrome, Maps, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Meet, YouTube and Google Pay have not been updated for 4 weeks or more, for the Apple iPhone and Apple iPad. Which means the last updates arrived in early December 2020, that is December 7 or before. Hold on for a second, that somehow coincides with the rollout of Apple’s mandatory privacy labels for all apps updated post December 8, 2020?
The new privacy labels which are now part of every app listing on the Apple App Store for iPhone, iPad and Mac, is designed to give users a quick glance at what data each app collects from you and what it doesn’t. he idea is to make it simpler for users to know, before the download an app, exactly what data the app will require for tracking, what data will be linked to you and what is not. The thing is, if Google had rolled out an update for any app on or post December 8, these privacy labels would have had to be populated for the update to be available on the App Store. At this time, none of Google's popular apps have this data filled on the listings page in the App Store.
A quick glance over at the Google Play Store for Android phones reveals that most of Google’s popular apps have indeed been updated for Android phones. Gmail was last updated on December 10 with the release notes saying, “Bug fixes and performance improvements”. Google Photos for Android was last updated on December 21, 2020 while YouTube was also updated on December 10. Google Meet was last updated on December 9 with improved support for 250 person meetings, real-time captions, international dial-in numbers for any meeting as well as bug fixes and performance improvements. That being said, even the Android version of apps such as Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Chrome and Google Maps for Android haven’t been updated since December 8.
The App Store Privacy Labels will have three sections—Data used to track you, data linked to you and data that is not linked to you. Under each section will be bullet points listing the exact specifics about the data being collected, including contact info, health and fitness data, financial info, usage data, browsing history, location data, personal identifiers and search history. With this information available at a glance, a user can potentially make a more informed decision about whether they want to download a specific app on the iPhone or iPad or Mac, without falling down the data collection and privacy blackhole that became the norm over the years.
A quick browse through the listings on the Apple App Store at this time makes for what is definitely a mixed bag when it comes to the compliance. Popular apps such as Truecaller have the complete list of data available as part of the privacy labels—data used to track you, data linked to you and data not linked to you. Shopping platform Flipkart and popular digital payments app PhonePe also have the privacy labels live on their app listings on the App Store. Popular payments platform and payments bank Paytm also has the complete privacy labels available for users to check. Facebook and the Facebook owned apps, including the Facebook app, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and WhatsApp for Business are also disclosing the privacy details as part of the privacy labels on the App Store. Microsoft has also updated the apps and the privacy details for their apps, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft Edge web browser.