Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently implemented a change in its Gmail iOS app that affects the privacy of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone users, reports Quartz. Google announced the change via its official Gmail blog last month. The blog post noted that “The app now fully supports background app refresh, which means your Gmail messages will be pre-fetched and synced so they’re right there when you open the app — no more annoying pauses while you wait for your inbox to refresh.”
Although this change ostensibly improves the way that the Gmail app functions in iOS, it also has implications for users’ privacy, since it alters the way that Google’s other iOS apps operate. As noted in Google’s blog post, “The Gmail app also now supports sign-in across Google iOS apps, including Maps, Drive, YouTube and Chrome. Sign in to one, and you’ll be signed in to all (this also works for signing out). So you won’t have to type in that 27-character password or retrieve your 2-step verification code every time you navigate to another Google app. You may need to re-login after you update the app, but then you’ll be all set.”
As noted by Quartz, this effectively removes iOS users’ ability to remain anonymous on other Google apps, such as Google Maps and YouTube. With this change, Google has vastly increased the amount of user data that it is able to collect from iPhone users. This financially benefits Google, since it is able to use the information about the browsing habits of iOS users to sell more valuable targeted advertising.