Apple Pay, HealthKit, and third-party keyboards got all the news for iOS 8. And I think everyone is excited about being able to mute group chats (sorry, mom!). But there’s one feature that didn’t get as much coverage as it should have.
For retail, specifically, it’s a massive privacy win.
iOS8 randomizes the unique ID — known as a MAC address — on your phone. What this means is that WiFi-tracking companies are no longer able to identify and track you throughout a store without your consent.
In the past, your device was essentially broadcasting “I am here!” to all nearby Wi-Fi access points, as it continually looked to join known Wi-Fi networks. This took place without any action on your part. It’s how devices and Wi-Fi access points quickly recognize each other and connect.
Now, with a randomized MAC address, marketers and businesses are unable to track when you return to a store or walk by a mall — or worse, sell your information to a third party.
With a rising number of applications using location data, we can all breathe a little easier.