Gmail On IphoneSource: Charles Deluvio / iMore

What you need to know

  • Google has not updated any of its iOS apps since December 7.
  • A new report notes this was just one day before the introduction of new privacy labels which require apps to disclose how much of your data they use.

Update, January 5 (7:00 pm ET): Google plans to update its apps with privacy labels as soon as this week.

A new report speculates that Google may have stopped updating its iOS apps to avoid disclosing how much data it uses through Apple's new iOS privacy labels.

From Fast Company:

Not a single one of Google's iOS apps have been updated in almost a month—an unusually long period for a tech behemoth not to release, at the very least, even a minor bug fix or stability update for one of its dozens of insanely popular iPhone and iPad apps. And after reviewing the latest release dates for all of Google's iOS apps, one reason for this lack of updates seems more likely than others: It could be related to Apple's new App Store privacy labels.

The last time any Google iOS app was updated was on December 7. This includes updates to major Google apps like Google Drive, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Sheets, YouTube Music, Google Duo, Google Authenticator, and Gboard.

As the report notes, apps submitted from December 8 have to fill out privacy information, disclosing what data they collect from a user and how it's used. That information is displayed in new 'nutrition labels' on the App's App Store listing.

As the report notes, by not updating any of its apps following the change, Google has not yet had to disclose any of its data usage as set out by the change. In fact, the report notes a slew of updates pushed out in the week running up to the change for apps like Google Pay, Google Photos, and more.

The new labels have already exposed apps like Facebook for the vast amounts of user data they use. It could be that Google, as per this report, might well be trying to avoid letting users know just how much of their data it collects.

Update, January 5 (7:00 pm ET) — Google plans to update its apps with privacy labels as soon as this week.

In a statement to TechCrunch a spokesperson from Google confirmed that the company plans to release updates to its apps on the App Store as soon as this week.

Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the company has a plan to add privacy labels across its app catalog. They also confirmed the labels are expected to begin rolling out as soon as this week or next week, though an exact date is not yet available.

The report also notes that Google did update two of its apps after the privacy label deadline, but did not add labels at that time. It also notes that other major companies like Amazon and Pinterest have not yet updated their apps in the App Store to display the privacy labels. TechCrunch also speculates that the reason for the delay is most likely not related to avoiding the labels but more likely a combination of companies freezing their code and submissions to the App Store being closed over the holidays.