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Apple Just Shut Down Google's Internal iOS Apps

Apple has revoked Google's developer certificate, which disables internal apps used by the company's employees.

Last updated on January 31, 2019, at 6:14 p.m. ET

Posted on January 31, 2019, at 5:15 p.m. ET

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A day after taking similar action against Facebook, Apple revoked Google's developer certificate on Thursday. This disabled internal apps used by the company's employees, like Gbus for transportation, and early versions of Google Maps, Hangouts, and Gmail, according to the Verge. The crackdown follows a TechCrunch report published Wednesday about a Google app called Screenwise Meter that monitored how people use their iPhones and violated Apple's policies.

In a statement, Google told BuzzFeed News, “We’re working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon.” Apple told BuzzFeed News, "We are working together with Google to help them reinstate their enterprise certificates very quickly."

Screenwise Meter violated Apple's policies by taking advantage of an enterprise program, which was designed exclusively for company-only app distribution and gives developers more access to data in Apple hardware. Google disabled Screenwise on Wednesday after TechCrunch's report.

Here's Google's statement on Screenwise, an app that monitors how people use their iPhones

Apple cracked down on Facebook in a similar way on Wednesday, after the company's app called Facebook Research was found to be in violation of App Store policies. Apple revoked Facebook's enterprise developer certificate, which disabled its internal testing apps, in addition to employee apps for coordinating collaboration, commuting, and viewing the daily lunch schedule.

Apple's revocation of developer certificates is significant: The inability to access iOS tools for productivity and product development means that work at Google and Facebook will be impacted. A Business Insider report referred to "chaos" inside Facebook as the company scrambled to respond to Apple's action. It's also a tough stance for Apple to take against Google, which is estimated to pay Apple $9 billion to remain the default search engine in the Safari mobile browser.

This afternoon, a Twitter user named Shac Ron, whose bio reads "Software Architect at Google," tweeted, "My certs have been revoked."

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company’s enterprise certification — and thus, its internal employee applications — was restored by Apple. “We are in the process of getting our internal apps up and running. To be clear, this didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services,” the spokesperson added.


This post has been updated to include a statement from Facebook.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.