Apple v Google: a Contrast in Priorities
Two related stories this week remind us just how Google and Apple see their priorities Where one company is focused on users, the other is focused on serving those users to advertisers.
On the one hand, we have Apple and the ad blocking features of iOS 9. Users are going to have the option of installing a content blocking app from iTunes, and filtering out adverts and tracking scripts.
And this week we learned that Apple also provided an option to reload a page with all the ads active (just in case you forgot what you were missing):
One of the nice perks of Safari in iOS 9 is that, even if you have blockers installed, you can long-press the reload button to reload the site with nothing blocked.
So not only is ad blocking strictly a user option, Apple is also giving users the options of seeing the ads. Nifty.
Google, on the other hand, chose this week to give app developers a tip on how to bypass Apple’s security.
Update: It’s been pointed out to me that Google was merely forwarding a detail Apple had in its own tech notes for iOS9. Headdesk.
iOS 9 requires that adverts be served with HTTPS, and not simple HTTP. That’s going to increase a user’s security, but Google guessed that not all developers would adapt in time. And that’s why Google shared a snippet of code that developers could use to bypass the security.
This won’t bypass the ad blocking software, but it does subvert one of the underlying reasons we use ad blockers: security.
And it also shows us just where Google’s priorities lie.
Google might proclaim that it values the new security standards, but that’s just a fig leaf. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case Google’s actions show that it values making money off of a user so much that it is willing to compromise a user’s security to do so.
Google isn’t quite as malevolent as Lenovo with its ad-injecting malware, but Google comes close – too close, in fact, to honor its motto of "Don’t be evil".