iOS 14.5 Privacy Update: How To Restrict Tracking By Advertisers On iPhone & iPad

With iOS 14.5, Apple is enforcing its new privacy features this week. Nearly seven months after the company announced the changes, now consent is mandatory for any user tracking. With the launch of iOS 14.5, all the developers are required to adhere to its App Tracking Transparency rules, which demands them to get extra permissions from users to track their activities & other data.

What Exactly Is App Tracking Transparency (ATT)?

ATT rules have certainly ruffled several feathers across the advertising industry since it effectively spells the end of the IDFA (aka Identifier for Advertisers). It’s a unique code assigned by Apple to a user’s device, which is further used by advertisers to track their data (like age, location, health information, spending habits, browsing history, to name a few), so they can deliver customized ads. Simply, think of the IDFA like a Cookie for Apps. However, according to the ATT feature, now app developers have to take your permission first to track you across all your iPhone apps and services. As soon as you upgrade to iOS 14.5 and install a new app, you will witness a pop-up box like below:

App Tracking Transparency

With iOS 14.5 new privacy alterations, companies like Facebook are majorly impacted and the social network has been protesting against ATT for months now.

According to the App Tracking Transparency Framework, Apple expressed:

“With the upcoming public release of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, all apps must use the AppTrackingTransparency framework to request the user’s permission to track them or to access their device’s advertising identifier. Unless you receive permission from the user to enable tracking, the device’s advertising identifier value will be all zeros and you may not track them.

When submitting your app for review, any other form of tracking — for example, by name or email address — must be declared in the product page’s ‌App Store‌ Privacy Information section and be performed only if permission is granted through AppTrackingTransparency. You’ll also need to include a purpose string in the system prompt to explain why you’d like to track the user, per ‌App Store‌ Review Guideline 5.1.2(i). These requirements apply to all apps starting April 26, 2021.”

The company has circulated an App Tracking Transparency video as well that would walk you through what the new privacy improvement means.

ATT Blocks Surreptitious Snooping: How To Opt Out Of App Tracking?

If you are curious to know how to block access apps from tracking you, follow the steps below:

STEP 1- Launch the iPhone Settings App and scroll down to choose the Privacy option.

ATT Blocks Surreptitious Snooping

STEP 2- Select Tracking from the new screen and simply toggle off the option “Allow Apps to Request to Track”.

iOS 14.5 Privacy Update

Once the setting is disabled, you shouldn’t witness any tracking request pop-ups and no application or service will be able to access your IDFA from now on!

Should We Disable The Tracking Or Not?

Well, most of you might immediately jump on the option offered by App Tracking Transparency to block all the installed applications & services from tracking your data. But for some users, the approach will be taken on an ‘app-by-app’ basis.

Since several developers who release free apps and get only paid for their work by advertising, they will not be able to track users now and target them with relevant ads. Allowing tracking is certainly a way to support such developers. But again, the choice certainly depends on each iOS user. Just keep in mind, enabling the ATT feature doesn’t mean less advertising, rather you will be more likely to see generic ads, not the one for that same pair of glasses you clicked on one time!

What Tim Cook Has To Say About These New Changes?

Several advertising agencies have expressed their views as Cupertino Company being against Digital Advertising. In response to these claims, Apple’s CEO said “Taking these steps have been treated as “somewhat controversial” but in the end, it is a significant move to protect iOS users against constant surveillance.” Tim further expressed, “We’re not against digital advertising. I think digital advertising is going to thrive in any situation because more and more time is spent online, less and less is spent on linear TV. And digital advertising will do well in any situation. The question is, do we allow the building of this detailed profile to exist without your consent?”

Bottom Line

While the consensus seems that most of the users will prevent tracking when given the opportunity. On the other hand, advertisers still have no idea about how ATT will impact when it comes to in-app advertising on iOS devices. If the opt-out rates remain high, IDFAs will eventually become scarce and developers/advertisers will see a drastic fall in the revenue model in a very short period. According to several reports “Approximately 58 percent of advertisers are reportedly planning to move their businesses out of Apple’s ecosystem and invest in other areas like Android devices or connected TV as a result of the change.”

So, what’s your view on Apple’s new privacy alterations that arrive with iOS 14.5? To track or not to track. That is the question? Share your opinions in the comments section below! 

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