Apple has finally released iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 after weeks of beta testing. Alongside features like unlocking a Face ID-equipped iPhone using an Apple Watch, more diverse voice options for Siri, and more, the update also includes App Tracking Transparency, a feature that lets iPhone users decide if they want apps to track them or not.
The feature, called App Tracking Transparency, has received a ton of backlash from advertising companies like Facebook who want to use that user data to sell targeted advertisements. Despite the intense criticism, the feature has also been praised for giving users more control over what data they share with apps on their iPhones. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern to discuss App Tracking Transparency and privacy.
Craig Federighi discusses App Tracking Transparency with WSJ
In his interview, Federighi describes the feature as something that “gives users the choice of whether they want to be tracked across a choice of apps and websites.” However, there is a lot more to the feature than this.
Federighi said that the App Tracking Transparency feature impacts the IFDA code in iPhones and iPad. The code is a tracking number unique to every device that advertisers use as an identifier. IDFA is used to track a user’s activity between apps like searching for a product on Amazon and then seeing the same product on apps like Facebook or Instagram. This happens because the apps share information on a user automatically using the IFDA number. With iOS 14.5, the IFDA will no longer be automatically shared between apps.
The executive said that Apple wanted to make sure users had a clear understanding of the decision and give developers an opportunity to explain the reason behind asking to track users across apps and websites with App Tracking Transparency.
When asked how Apple plans to deal with the frustration users are planning on experiencing towards the overwhelming amount of pop-ups that will show up each time a user opens a different app, Federighi said that users will only see the pop-up at first and since some apps will stop tracking after being asked, users will be able to “make the decision once and that’ll be it”.
Federighi addressed the criticism by saying that though the company expected a negative response from some about the new feature, they believe that users deserve the choice of letting an app track them or not.
“We really just want to give users a choice … These devices are so intimately a part of our lives and contain so much of what we’re thinking and where we’ve been and who we’ve been with that users deserve and need control of that information … The abuses can range from creepy to dangerous.”
In the interview, Federighi placed heavy emphasis upon the fact that Apple is focused on giving users the choice of deciding what happens with their data. “We’re always considering the right things primarily from a customer’s perspective,” he said.
You can read the full interview here.