First Facebook, now Google’s internal iOS apps are blocked by Apple

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While Apple's move blocked the two non-compliant research apps, it also blocked private iOS apps the companies had been legitimately using with employees. While Apple has called this a violation of their Store policies, the truth is of course that this was the only way 3rd parties had to access iPhones at a more than a superficial level, a effect of Apple's closed platform.

Still, the shutoff didn't seem to debilitate Facebook's ability to work. The iOS app for the service - which has since been disabled - relied on the Apple enterprise program which allows companies to create apps for use within that company (i.e., not available to the general public). If popular apps, such as Facebook's Instagram and Google Maps, aren't kept up to date on iPhones, consumers might switch to handsets that run on Google's Android operating system. Facebook and Google used this to collect data on user activity for internal research. Meanwhile, Apple told Buzzfeed in a statement: “We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly.”.

"We're working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon", the company said in a statement. Apple's terms exclude contractors from its definition of "internal use application", unless that contractor is actually helping develop the internal app. It's unclear how this will impact that deal when renewal discussions begin.

Facebook did not say whether it agreed to any conditions for the certificate restoration.

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The program is intended for enterprise customers to test and deploy iOS apps among employees without using the iOS App Store. Apple did not immediately respond to a message for comment on January 31 afternoon.

But Facebook wasn't the only one engaging in such practices.

On the Screenwise Meter Play Store listing, for example, Google clearly states that data is collected for market research purposes and provides a link to its research panel membership page (you need to be on the panel to download the app). Cupertino is in the process of restoring the digital certificates used by Facebook and Google to sign and distribute in-house iOS apps internally to employees, after revoking them within the past 24 hours. The social-networking company also monitored teens, paying them $20 a month if they signed up with parental consent. In both cases, the companies were bypassing restrictions in place on Apple App Store listed applications that would have prevented both apps from being distributed by publishing them under internal security certificates meant for beta, internal, and otherwise non-public use only.

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