About the new 'Reset Advertising Identifier' button in iOS 6.1

About the new 'Reset Advertising Identifier' button in iOS 6.1

Summary: Apple released iOS 6.1 today with enhanced LTE support, but privacy advocates will appreciate its new "Reset Advertising Identifier" button, which gives iPhone and iPad users a new option.

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TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Software
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About the new 'Reset Advertising Identifier' button in iOS 6.1 - Jason O'Grady

Apple released iOS 6.1 (press release) today with a short list of new features:

  • LTE support for more carriers 
  • Purchase movie tickets through Fandango with Siri (USA only)
  • iTunes Match subscribers can now download individual songs from iCloud
  • New button to reset the Advertising Identifier

While the new 70MB update includes LTE support for LTE in at least 16 new countries, iLounge points out that the new carriers are only supported by the iPad 4, the iPad mini, and iPhone 5. While iOS 6.1's enhanced LTE support has been grabbing most of the attention, it's new privacy option deserves a closer look. 

In addition to several security updates, iOS 6.1 contains a new button labeled "Reset Advertising Identifier" in Settings > General > About > Advertising.

The Universal Device Identifier (UDID) -- a 40 character string of letters and numbers -- was commonly used for advertising and user tracking in iOS. But Apple dropped support for the UDID when it released iOS 6.0 in September 2012 and replaced it with a new feature called the Advertising Identifier.

Unlike the UDID, which could be tied to a specific iOS device's hardware (and its user by extension), the new Advertising Identifier does not contain any device information and isn't permanent.

Apple described the new Advertising Identifier like this when iOS 6.0 was released:

iOS 6 introduces the Advertising Identifier, a non-permanent, non-personal, device identifier, that advertising networks will use to give you more control over advertisers’ ability to use tracking methods. If you choose to limit ad tracking, advertising networks using the Advertising Identifier may no longer gather information to serve you targeted ads. In the future all advertising networks will be required to use the Advertising Identifier. However, until advertising networks transition to using the Advertising Identifier you may still receive targeted ads from other networks.

While Apple provided the ability to Limit Ad Tracking in iOS 6.0 (above) the Advertising Identifier was static. Apple changed this today in iOS 6.1 by adding the ability to reset the Advertising Identifier with a handy new button (pictured above). Users concerned about having their personal usage habits tracked by apps and advertisers now have a convenient button to reset the identifier, essentially making them appear like a new user.

While iOS 6.0's Limit Ad Tracking feature was akin to your web browser's Do Not Track option, resetting the Advertising Identifier is analogous to deleting your browser's ad tracking cookies. 

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Software

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5 comments
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  • An option to automatically reset the ID would be nice.

    [ ] Automatic Reset after ___ Days
    Bruce Lang
  • IOS 6.1

    If Apple is concerned about privacy why not have an option to disable all ad tracking?
    Every update Apple has had in the past year has been about generating more revenue for apple. Why not add some new features that users can benefit from like saving memory by removing apple maps, so users can have the choice of running google maps without dragging around the additional overhead of apple maps. As a loyal apple user (we probably have a dozen apple devices in our household) my devotion is starting to falter based on the lack of inovation, cutbacks in support and the deterioration of overall quality of apple products. I am willing to pay a premium for Apple but I am not a fool I expect something in return.
    phodara
    • I couldn't agree more

      I have been an apple user for several years and the cutback in support and the adding of apple care (plus) without contacting those of us who alway had just apple care was a shock and a let down. I hope they start to realize where they're heading before I head for a droid!!
      Kat Slatko
  • erase all cookies?

    Does this erase ALL cookies? Or just tracking cookies?
    mrblu45
    • Nope, it doesn't remove cookies

      It just assigns you a new Advertising Identifier meaning to an advertiser you are a new user with no preferences or any tracking information. It has nothing to do with cookies
      Beatnyama