Apple’s controversial App Tracking Transparency feature is finally rolling out as part of the latest iOS 14.5 software update. The built-in privacy feature is a big deal for iOS – after all, it will give iPhone and iPad owners more transparency and control over apps, further boosting their privacy.
First unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2020, the new feature is a major step for user privacy, giving Cupertino a significant edge over companies like Facebook and Google that track user activity to produce targeted advertisements.
Since 2012, Apple is using the IDFA (“Identifier of Advertising”) which is a replacement for the Unique Device Identifier, to track different websites and apps. Unlike the UDID, the IDFA gives users more control over their privacy. Before the rollout of iOS 14.5, iPhone users were able to limit ad tracking but this new feature gives control over apps that want to track for advertising. Facebook, the social media giant, has a reason to worry as the new privacy feature for iOS could limit its ability to target ads to iPhone and iPad owners.
Experts say the arrival of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature will bring changes to how mobile advertisement works. In a press statement, Apple said its new privacy feature will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising or sharing their data with data brokers.
The rollout of iOS 14.5 is a big win for Apple, as the company has been long stressing the importance of user privacy amid its tussle with Facebook. Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year criticised Facebook’s business model, attacking the Mark Zuckerberg-run company over its stance on user privacy. Cook, who runs the world’s most successful tech company, has long emphasised that Apple is not in the business of selling data to advertisers.
How to stop apps tracking you in iOS 14.5
First, update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 14.5. To update your Apple device running the latest iOS version, head to Settings>General>About. Now that your device is running iOS 14.5, make sure App Tracking Transparency is enabled. The feature should automatically be enabled upon download the latest software version. Go to Settings>Privacy>Tracking and turn on the feature if not enabled.
One of the things you should know is that whenever you download a new app, you will receive a pop-up notification asking whether you give permission for the app to “track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” But you can also opt out of tracking across apps you download by going to Settings>Privacy>Tracking> and toggling off Allow Apps to Request to track.