iOS 8's Hidden Feature Aims to Stop Retail Stores from Tracking You While Shopping
Unbeknownst to you, hundreds of retailers, shopping malls, coffee shops, and airports track and log your movements. Using sensors installed by retail analytics companies, businesses sniff out your smartphone's MAC address, a unique fixed identifier to your device, whenever your device interacts with their Wi-Fi hotspots.
Using this information, businesses can analyze your shopping habits in order to learn about behaviors and create a "better shopping experience"—but let's face it, it's just so they can make more money. And while the practice has been curbed to some extent, it may still linger in your favorite reseller's brick-and-mortar locations.
In iOS 8, security researcher Frederic Jacobs discovered that hidden underneath the hood of Apple's latest mobile operating system is a feature that randomizes your MAC address, making it impossible for businesses to track your movements.
Randomizing the MAC addresses is definitely a big win for Apple users, especially because you may not always be aware when your device is being tracked.
But as with any good news that's ever worth mentioning, some have suggested that Apple has an ulterior motive to barring retailers from following their users—so that they can instead push their own indoor proximity system, iBeacon.
Frederic Jacobs quickly took to Twitter to quash these rumors.
Paired with the integration of DuckDuckGo as a default search engine option in Safari—known for its no-tracking policy—it seems that Apple is listening to consumers when it comes to privacy and security.