Apple hasn’t officially announced this yet, but there are multiple reports that the new iOS 14.x privacy prompt is starting to appear in some apps.
Apple originally announced this feature at WWDC 2020 and intended to release it in the initial release of iOS 14 in September. In testing iOS 14 over the summer, I was impressed by this and a handful of other new features, noting that Apple was smart to amp up its marketing of the privacy protections in iOS since they are key a selling point for the platform. Unfortunately, it was delayed to early 2021 because companies like Facebook complained that they needed more time to adapt to the change.
Well, apparently, it’s rolling out a bit early, at least in some apps.
According to Apple, this new privacy prompt will appear when any iOS (or iPadOS or tvOS) app tries to link “user or device data collected from [the] app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes.” The prompt tells the user what the app is trying to do and lets them block or allow the tracking.
Facebook recently took out full-page ads in newspapers, complaining about the change and promoting itself as the protector of small businesses that it says rely on ad-based tracking. Obviously, this is actually Facebook’s sole source of meaningful revenues, and its anti-Apple promotion landed with a thud.
More importantly, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to the complaint by correctly noting that “users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites—and they should have the choice to allow that or not.” “App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising,” Apple explained. “It simply requires they give users a choice.”
Well, that choice is rolling out.