March 31, 2023

Apple’s next iOS update will make apps ask permission to track you

Apple’s long-awaited privacy update is coming soon. 

Starting with the next beta versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, app developers will have to ask permission if they want to track their users’ activity for advertising purposes. 

For users, this means an app will have to ask you to explicitly “allow” tracking “your activity across other companies’ apps and websites,” with the other option being “ask app not to track.”

The update, which is a part of Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework, is scheduled to launch in early spring, Apple announced on Wednesday. 

In December, Apple started offering a more detailed insight in how individual iOS apps track users and use their data. 

“Our goal is to create technology that keeps people’s information safe and protected. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right, and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we make,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, said in a statement.

Originally scheduled for September 2020, the update was postponed to give developers and websites more time to adapt. The feature was met with a lot of backlash from some developers, most notably Facebook, which went so far as to launch a full-page newspaper ad protesting the change. And while Facebook tried to make the change about small businesses and their ability to run personalized ads, Apple stood its ground, essentially claiming this is about the user’s right to choose not to be tracked by apps. 

Since last September, iOS apps come with "privacy nutrition labels," which provide an overview of the app developer's privacy practices.

Since last September, iOS apps come with “privacy nutrition labels,” which provide an overview of the app developer’s privacy practices.

Image: apple

Google responded to the change by announcing its iOS apps will stop tracking users for advertising purposes altogether (within the definitions laid forth by Apple’s new policy). The company did note, however, that advertisers “may see a significant impact to their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple’s ATT policies take effect.”

Coinciding with Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28, Apple also shared “A Day in the Life of Your Data” — a report illustrating how different apps might handle one family’s data throughout the course of a day.