Uber Removing Apple-Granted API That Could Have Let it Record a User’s iPhone Screen [Updated]

Uber App IconWhen the Apple Watch was first released, Apple gave Uber what's known as an "entitlement" to run a special API to improve performance of the Uber app on the wrist worn device.

That entitlement made headlines today when security researchers told Gizmodo that Uber could have used it to record a user's iPhone screen even with the Uber app just running in the background.

In a statement, Uber said the entitlement was used for an old version of the Apple Watch app and was provided to Uber because the original Apple Watch couldn't render maps.

"It was used for an old version of the Apple Watch app, specifically to run the heavy lifting of rendering maps on your phone & then send the rendering to the Watch app," an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo, saying that early Apple Watches couldn't handle this process alone. "This dependency was removed with previous improvements to Apple's OS & our app. Therefore, we're removing this API from our iOS codebase."

The entitlement is no longer necessary and Uber is planning to remove it from the iOS codebase, according to both the statement given to Gizmodo and a tweet from Uber head of security and privacy communications Melanie Ensign.

According to security researcher Will Strafach, who first brought attention to the issue, Apple does not often give out entitlements. Strafach said he could find no other apps on the App Store that have the permissions that the Uber app has.

Strafach says there is no evidence that Uber ever misused the entitlement, but it could have been utilized to monitor activity on an iPhone, recording passwords and other personal information. "Essentially it gives you full control over the framebuffer, which contains the colors of each pixel of your screen. So they can potentially draw or record the screen," another security researcher, Luca Todesco, told Gizmodo.

Uber says the app is no longer connected to anything in the company's current codebase, but users will likely be wary anyway as there have been other privacy concerns with the Uber app. There was a feature that allowed riders to be tracked for up to five minutes after a trip, and Apple CEO Tim Cook even went so far as to threaten to remove the app from the App Store after it was found to be secretly recording the UDID of iPhones to identify them even after the Uber app had been deleted.

Update: An Uber spokesperson said that an update released on Friday removed the API.

Tag: Uber

Top Rated Comments

WannaGoMac Avatar
55 months ago
Apple is the one that gave them this capability. I am more upset with Apple than Uber. Was anyone told Uber was recording all actions on the device thanks to Apple?

Yet folks are upset with Uber??? Seems like Apple is in the wrong here...
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chupa Chupa Avatar
55 months ago
Put down the pitchforks. This is an Apple-granted entitlement.
Well I think the pitchforks need to stay raised -- just pointed at Apple. One of the features Apple uses to sell it's devices is privacy. So how the h* did it not catch this before it gave it out to Uber -- apparently some time ago. Uber has made it's share of sketchy moves but this one is on Apple. It really needs to explain how this won't happen again.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redgreenski Avatar
55 months ago
Disappointed with Apple. Uber on the other hand has been long replaced with Lyft.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Z400Racer37 Avatar
55 months ago
This company is constantly involved in scandal. I don't know why Apple deals with it. They are dishonest, they have no integrity. Ban them.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
55 months ago
Put down the pitchforks. This is an Apple-granted entitlement.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
55 months ago
What the f*** Apple? Why are these APIs being enabled for 3rd part devs at all? And Uber of all people, scumbag company with alarming coding practices, not to mention the disgusting history of employee treatment.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
macbook pro 13 inch banner

Apple Planning Five New Macs for 2022, Including Entry-Level MacBook Pro Refresh

Sunday December 5, 2021 7:55 am PST by
Apple is working on five new Macs for launch in 2022, including a new version of the entry-level MacBook Pro, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said that he expects Apple to launch five new Macs in 2022, including: A high-end iMac with Apple silicon to sit above the 24-inch iMac in the lineup A significant MacBook Air...
MBA Mock White Front Blue

2022 MacBook Air Getting Major Display Upgrade With One Drawback

Friday December 3, 2021 3:01 am PST by
Apple's next-generation MacBook Air is reportedly set to bring over many of the new MacBook Pro's features, with one noticeable omission, according to recent reports. The latest MacBook Pro models feature a mini-LED "Liquid Retina XDR" display with deep blacks and support for up to 1,600 nits peak brightness. The display also features Apple's "ProMotion" technology, which is capable of...
m3 feature black

Macs With 'M3' Chips Expected to Use TSMC's 3nm Chip Technology With Test Production Reportedly Underway

Thursday December 2, 2021 7:36 am PST by
Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built on its 3nm process, known as N3, according to Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed industry sources, claims that TSMC will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022 and start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Apple and Intel in the first quarter of...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors

2022 Apple Watch Lineup Rumored to Include New Apple Watch SE and 'Rugged' Model for Sports

Sunday December 5, 2021 8:22 am PST by
Apple is planning an entire revamp of its Apple Watch lineup for 2022, including an update to the Apple Watch SE and a new Apple Watch with a rugged design aimed at sports athletes, according to respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. Writing in the latest installment of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for 2022, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple is planning an update to ...