Controversial anti-tracking feature is about to go live in iOS 14

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Your iPhone will soon offer a bit more privacy.
With iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4, applications will have to ask if they can track you.
Graphic: Apple

Apple seeded to developers the release candidates for iOS 14.4 and the iPad equivalent on Thursday. It’s probably the last step before a public release. Among other changes, these new versions will apparently give iPhone and iPad users the option to block third-party applications from tracking them.

Devs can also install watchOS 7.3 RC and tvOS 14.4 RC, which became available Thursday too. But macOS Big Sur 11.2 is still on Beta 2.

iOS 14.4 RC and iPadOS 14.4 RC add new privacy feature

“Release Candidate” is Apple’s new name for “Golden Master.” It’s the final version of the sent out early for testing, before the general public get access.

People testing earlier beta versions iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 report that they force iPhone applications to specifically ask if they can track the user for advertising purposes. Apple touted this privacy feature at its 2020 developers conference, but companies like Facebook that make their money from tracking users are opposed to the feature, so the debut was pushed back by months. But the wait is seemingly almost over.

There are other tweaks in the new versions, too. Like, the process of handing off audio to a HomePod has been enhanced. And the update warns iPhone users if the camera was replaced with one that not a genuine Apple part.

Don’t forget watchOS 7.3 and tvOS 14.4

The release notes for watchOS 7.3 promise a “Unity watch face inspired by the colors of the Pan-African Flag.” Also, the ECG app will be available for users of Apple Watch Series 4 or later who are in Japan, Mayotte, Philippines, and Thailand. The same is true for irregular heart rhythm notifications.

It’s not clear what’s new in tvOS 14.4 RC.

Currently, the iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, watchOS 7.3 and tvOS 14.4 release candidates are only for developers. But if Apple follows its previous habits, public beta versions will be along. It might take up to a week, though. In the mean time, getting access to these pre-release editions requires joining the Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.