| Cult of Mac

App Tracking Transparency makes Chinese tech giant Alibaba worry

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Alibaba
Alibaba is a giant in the world of e-commerce.
Photo: Markus Winkler/Unsplash CC

It’s not just U.S. tech giants that fear iOS 14.5’s new App Tracking Transparency feature. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, with a market cap of $646.84 billion, is supposedly very worried, just like Facebook.

A report from The Information says Alibaba invited half a dozen marketing execs to its Hangzhou headquarters to discuss how to react to the new feature, which stops apps from tracking users across websites and third-party apps.

Why you won’t see App Tracking Transparency prompts immediately

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App Tracking Transparency will be part of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5. It’s already showing up in betas.
Developers get to say when the feature goes live. But there's a catch.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Apple debuted iOS 14.5, with its App Tracking Transparency feature, on Monday. But if you updated your iPhone or iPad, and haven’t seen a flurry of alerts about apps wanting to track you, don’t be concerned. The controversial privacy feature is working as advertised.

That’s because the new privacy tracking prompt, which asks users if they want to allow an app to track them on other companies’ apps and websites, will only show up when a developer agrees for the feature to go live on their specific app. Until they push it live, they’re blocked from tracking users via Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (aka IDFA).

Apple accused of using app-tracking crackdown to sell ads

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Apple.logo.paris.store
Apple stands to increase ad revenue from recent changes.
Photo: Josh Davidson/Cult of Mac

Apple is being accused of engaging in sneaky behavior when it comes to its advertising strategy. According to a Wall Street Journal report, advertisers who are targeting iPhone users say they will “get more data about ad performance if they buy Apple’s ad space than if they buy through third parties.”

iOS 14.5 offers new privacy oriented features that let users opt out of tracking for personalized ads. However, Apple also sells ads itself in the App Store, News, and Stocks. It has recently been bolstering its efforts in this department.

How to stop apps from tracking you in iOS 14.5

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How to allow/prevent apps tracking you
Thanks to App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5, it’s up to your to decide whether third-party applications track you.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

iPhone and iPad just got a significant new privacy protection, preventing third-party apps from tracking you without permission. App Tracking Transparency debuted in iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5.

Here’s how to use it. And what to do about all the popups asking, “Allow [THIS APP] to track your activity?”

iOS 14.5 brings App Tracking Transparency, mask-friendly Face ID

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iOS 14.5 brings App Tracking Transparency, mask-friendly Face ID
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPhone owners can use their Apple Watch to securely unlock their handset when attempting to use Face ID while wearing a face mask.
Photo: Apple

Apple on Monday gave all iPhone users access to iOS 14.5. And iPad users can install iPadOS 14.5  Today’s updates bring a ton of new features, including unlocking an iPhone with an Apple Watch while wearing a mask.

The OS updates also bring App Tracking Transparency, a controversial change that makes it harder for apps to track users for targeted advertising. Other upgrades include new emoji, fresh Siri voices, additional features for Apple’s news and map apps, support for the just-announced AirTag trackers and a wholesale redesign of the Podcasts app.

watchOS 7.4, which is necessary for the new mask-friendly Face ID feature, and tvOS 14.5 also became available today, along with macOS Big Sur 11.3.

Ad companies argue App Tracking Transparency will drive up cost of apps

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App Store image
Could privacy feature be ultimately bad for users?
Photo: James Yarema/Unsplash CC

A group of media, tech, and ad companies in Germany have made an official antitrust complaint about Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature.

The group, which represents Facebook among other companies, is concerned about the effect the new privacy feature will have on the ad business. It also claims that the feature could wind up hurting users by making apps more expensive.

iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 bring an array of new features ‘next week’

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iOS 14.5 will debut before the end of April.
The wait for iOS 14.5 is almost over — it’ll be out before the end of April. The same goes for iPadOS 14.5.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple revealed on Tuesday that iOS 14.5 and the iPad equivalent will reach customers iPhones and tablets some time “next week.” These include a rush of new features, like unlocking an iPhone with an Apple Watch. And a controversial change that make it harder for apps to track users for ads.

To help make the launches possible, developers were given access to the release candidates for these upcoming operating system versions on Tuesday. They can both look for bugs and  test their own applications with the new OS versions.

The average smartphone app harbors 6 different trackers

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Privacy
Privacy has been a big deal for Apple for years.
Photo: Apple

Ahead of the launch of the new App Tracking Transparency iOS 14 feature, Apple on Wednesday published a report titled A Day in the Life of Your Data.

It details the “$227 billion-a-year industry” made up of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and more who harvest user personal data for profit — and what Apple is doing about it.

Apple warns devs that App Tracking Transparency is almost here

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App Tracking Transparency will be part of iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5. It’s already showing up in betas.
Developers need to get their software ready for App Tracking Transparency. iPhone and iPad will soon prevent apps from tracking users without permission.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Apple reminded developers on Monday that new iOS, iPadOS and tvOS versions coming soon will block applications from tracking users without specific permission. It’ll no longer be possible for networks of apps to surreptitiously track what people use their devices for.

The same note includes a warning that its also is also forbidden to try to find a workaround for this block by “fingerprinting” devices.