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Apple denying iPhone apps that use location framework for targeted ads

Apple this week notified iPhone developers that they cannot use the device's GPS data to serve location-aware advertisements to users of App Store software.

In an update to the "News and Announcements for iPhone Developers" RSS feed, Apple included a tip on the "Core Location" framework included in the iPhone OS software development kit. Using the GPS in the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, developers can determine the current location of users — but only if the data is used to provide "beneficial information."

"If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user's location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store," the update reads.

Last year, after Apple showed interest in mobile advertising firm AdMob, the company was instead bought by rival Google. Apple later purchased mobile advertising firm Quattro Wireless, and intends to allow developers to easily integrate its own advertising solutions into App Store software.

Apple's newly publicized policy on GPS data usage has led to some speculation that the company could retain location-aware advertising for its own, giving the iPhone maker a significant advantage over competitors like AdMob and Google. However, Apple has yet to formally roll out its own integrated advertising solutions, so whether location-based targeted ads would be a part of the network is unknown.

Apple has shown interest in expanding location-based services on the iPhone. One patent application described a dynamic home screen that would display specific applications automatically populated based on factors like the current location of the phone. For example, when traveling in San Francisco, a specific "San Francisco" icon could appear on the screen, and give users easy access to local weather, time, maps and contacts.

In addition, this week a new patent application described a system for easily sharing a user's current location with a contact in-call. Such a system would use the GPS data from an iPhone to allow two parties to efficiently meet one another.