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
43 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
43 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
43 months ago
Disappointed with Apple. Uber on the other hand has been long replaced with Lyft.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Z400Racer37 Avatar
43 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
43 months ago
Put down the pitchforks. This is an Apple-granted entitlement.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
43 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)

Top Stories

16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
macbook pro 16 inch thunderbolt

Bloomberg: Next-Generation MacBook Pro to Offer Improved Displays, Faster Charging Over MagSafe

Thursday January 14, 2021 11:36 pm PST by
Following today's report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlining major changes for the next-generation MacBook Pro models coming in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has weighed in with his own report corroborating some of the details but seemingly differing a bit on others. First, Gurman shares more details on the return of MagSafe charging to the MacBook Pro, indicating...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
pat gelsinger intel

Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company's Inability to 'Deliver Better Products' Than Apple's M1 Chip

Friday January 15, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that the company must "deliver better products" than Apple, which he described as a "lifestyle company," and says that Intel's best days are "in front of it" (via The Oregonian). Speaking at an Intel all-hands meeting yesterday, Gelsinger derisively implied that Apple is merely a "lifestyle company," so Intel must be able to surpass its technology: ...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...