Ethical analytics and crash reporting for iOS


#1

Hi all :wave:,

I’m really happy that I found out about this awesome forum!

There has been some discussion about ethical analytics for web, but I’m interested about ethical analytics alternatives for mobile (specifically iOS and more specifically crash/issue reporting).

Tools like Fabric are obviously important for us developers to be able to maintain a certain quality standard. Fabric is owned by Google, but their privacy site states that they only collect “Installation UUID and Crash traces”.
Can this data be used in a harmful way?

I browsed through Better apps and if I’m right, they don’t track crashes or any user data (even something not privacy related like average time spent in the app) so I guess you already had these discussions. I saw that some users sent you crash reports manually, how did that work out for you?

Cheers! :beer:


#2

Hi @blagajic, sorry you got caught in the spam filter for a few hours!

Yes. And if it’s owned by Google, then they’re likely providing it because it gives them access to people’s data. Device and/or browser information is used very successfully to track people.

If you need to collect analytics to prevent crash reports, I reckon (and other devs with more software experience may expand on this):

  1. Only collect what you really truly need, and nothing else. You don’t need to tie the analytics to the person using your app. You don’t need demographic information. You don’t need device information apart from that which directly affects your app.

  2. Don’t share any of that information with a third party/use a third party service. If you choose to collect analytics, the safest thing you can do is self-host everything you collect. Hopefully your reports will have no personal information in them whatsoever, so storing them yourself will not be a security liability to you. Most of this kind of information becomes more valuable to people who monetise data when combined with other data sets.

Yep. We don’t have any tracking inside the app. We have a lot of people just emailing us/messaging us on social networks/posting here if they have a particular crash or an issue, so we just don’t need it. And because we’re not collecting anything, people who use Better can be assured that there’s no risk if we “go bad” or get hacked :smile:


#3

Thanks for the reply, that’s valuable info.

Yeah, I would definitely like to move away from using Fabric (unfortunately, it was never my decision in the past. Most of the product owners just don’t give it a second thought since it’s “free”).

Just to make it clear, I never had the intention of tracking any personal data, just anonymous events and crashes, but I’m torn since I would like to be able to say “we don’t track anything” and emphasize the importance of privacy. Your way (manual user feedback) seems to be working since I like the quality of the Better MacOS client (haven’t tried mobile yet) so I will give it a go. :+1: