Your iPhone’s Next Software Update Aims to Foil App Trackers and Digital Advertisers. Here’s How


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Apple Flagship Store In Shanghai

Apple Flagship Store In Shanghai

Apple’s flagship store on Nanjing East Road in Shanghai, China, on April 21, 2021. Credit – Costfoto—Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Apple’s next major software update for the iPhone is set to give users more control of their privacy—and could significantly alter the way advertisers and app developers do business.

iOS 14.5, already in the hands of beta testers and scheduled for release later this month, puts serious restrictions on the information third parties can gather from iPhone and iPad users without their permission. That data, usually used for ad tracking and targeting, is highly sought after by companies. Which is why the new privacy features are infuriating advertisers, app makers and some of Apple’s biggest Silicon Valley neighbors. Facebook has pushed back publicly against the new protections. While Google, which also uses the data in myriad ways, has resorted to less effective ad tracking measures, and avoiding triggering Apple’s new anti-tracking features.

What do Apple’s new app tracking transparency (ATT) rules do, exactly? For one, they require app developers to submit information about the user data they collect, how it will be used and whether developers will further track users and send them targeted ads. As part of the new framework, each app’s privacy policy will be prominently displayed on its App Store page, allowing users to see what data the app is using to track them, what it knows about them and whether that data is being sold to other businesses. Of course, data you willingly give over within apps, like searches and like, is still fair game and can be used without your express permission.

Apple leadership, including CEO Tim Cook and SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi, have spoken publicly about the need for increased consumer control over personal data. “At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement — the longer the better — and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible,” said Cook at a virtual privacy-focused conference in January. The…