Apple’s new privacy-focused tracking query begins, appearing for iOS 14 users [Updated]

As a measure of privacy, Apple will require developers of iPhone and iPad apps to request permission from users to track their activities on other apps and websites for personalized advertising purposes from early next year.

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Some time ago, a request for users to allow or disable tracking began to appear in the first beta version of iOS 14.4, posted last week. The screenshot shared on the MacRumors forums shows an NBA application that seeks to track user activity, with customizable lowercase letters indicating that the data will be used to provide users with a “better and more personalized ad experience”.

iOS 14.4 should be released in January or February, comparing Apple’s “early next year” timeframe for this change. Apple originally planned to introduce the prompt in September, but delayed giving developers more time to prepare.

Last week, Facebook claimed that Apple’s new request would harm small businesses, adding that the move was “more about profit than privacy”. In a full-page newspaper ad, Facebook said Apple’s move would force small businesses to turn to subscriptions and other payments in the earnings app, which in turn would profit from Apple’s bottom.

“They are hurting small businesses and publishers who are already battling a pandemic,” Facebook said in a blog post. “These changes will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively.”

In response to Facebook, Apple expressed that users deserve control and transparency. “We believe this is a simple commitment for our users,” Apple said, adding that “users need to know when their data is being collected and shared in other apps and websites – and they should be able to allow it or not.”

Earlier this week, the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called Facebook’s campaign against Apple “ridiculous” and applauded Apple for its “privacy” change.

“When a company does the right thing for its customers, the EFF will stand by it, just as we will have a hard time pushing companies that make mistakes,” EFF said. “Here Apple is right and Facebook is wrong.”

Update: The tracking query also starts appearing in certain apps on previous versions of iOS 14, but quite inconsistently.