Apple Software Chief Craig Federighi Defends App Tracking Transparency Feature

Following Apple's confirmation that it still plans to introduce a new App Tracking Transparency feature that will let users know when companies want to track them across apps and websites, which has attracted criticism from companies such as Facebook, Craig Federighi has explained more about the rationale behind the change to The Independent.

craig federighi wwdc 2018

The App Tracking Transparency feature allows users to opt-out of data collection and choose whether advertisers can track their activity. While it was originally supposed to arrive with iOS 14 earlier this year, Apple postponed the feature until early 2021 to give developers more time to accommodate it.

Federighi told The Independent that the new feature can be put down to Apple's support for privacy as a "core value" that has been present "since the beginning of the company," citing how Steve Jobs highlighted the Apple II's ability to allow users to secure their own information on floppy disks and have control over their data.

He said that the feature would ultimately be "better for even the people that are currently, at times protesting those moves," because it increases trust between users, developers, and advertisers. Federighi also said that similar concerns had been raised in the past about new privacy features, but they did not result in long-term issues, and eventually became widespread across the industry:

We introduced intelligent tracking prevention, several years ago, and at the time, parts of the ad industry were saying that the sky was going to be falling in and that their business was going to be destroyed by the fact that they couldn't track everyone from website to website to website. Well, in fact, if you look at what happened to the industry, that didn't happen at all, and yet we also protected user privacy.

Federighi also noted that Apple is not the largest manufacturer in most markets and implied that customers can choose whether or not they want to buy an Apple device:

If we sell cars without airbags, and we decided to put airbags in our cars before someone else did, and customers want to buy those, I think it's great that we've provided that that choice. We're not waiting for someone to require we do it, we're making that part of what it means to use our platform.

Federighi confirmed that Apple's decision to postpone the feature was singularly due to the concerns of some developers who feared that opting out of ad tracking would impact how their apps work, rather than disputes with the ad industry.

Although Apple has not announced any further privacy protection features that could affect the ad industry, Federighi said "we're going to watch and see what happens and try to make sure that we can keep the ecosystem healthy," hinting that more changes could be made in the future.

Finally, Federighi pointed to some of Apple's privacy features that have benefited users in the past, while still preserving the needs of the ad industry. He specifically mentioned the SKAdNetwork tool, which allows developers to track when an ad had led to a sale of a product, which has become a key metric for many advertisers, saying "we created a framework for doing that in a privacy-protecting way."

Future updates, he said, could bring more ways for the ad industry to "improve their ability to do effective advertising while preserving privacy, and we want to work technically on solutions to make that more and more effective."

Read the full interview at The Independent.

Top Rated Comments

eicca Avatar
29 months ago
The fact that Apple insists that privacy matters is the sole reason I will not switch to any other ecosystem.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TonyC28 Avatar
29 months ago
There is nothing to defend or explain, Craig. Keep up the good work. When Facebook is whining you are doing something right.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smithrh Avatar
29 months ago
He doesn't need to defend it, he needs to get it going.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cababah Avatar
29 months ago
If a company like Facebook is against it, I am automatically for it.

Imagine if Facebook made a phone. It would be free, come pre-installed with ads, already have all of your personal and contact information, and a virtual assistant named “Boris.”
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rainshadow Avatar
29 months ago
If Facebook is crying, I’m smiling
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
29 months ago
No need to defend yourself Craig, FB can eat crap
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Expected to Feature Wi-Fi 6E Like Latest Macs and iPad Pro

Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:39 pm PST by
The iPhone 15 will support Wi-Fi 6E, according to a research note shared this week by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley. The analysts did not specify whether the feature will be available on all models or limited to the Pro models. Apple has added Wi-Fi 6E support to a handful of devices so far, including the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Pro Mac Mini

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
The new M2-series MacBook Pro and Mac mini models launched today, marking the debut of the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. We have the M2 Pro Mac mini on hand, and thought we'd take a look at the machine and do a series of benchmarks to see how it fits into Apple's lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Base model Mac mini machines come with either an M2 or M2 Pro...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Max MacBook Pro

Thursday January 26, 2023 12:14 pm PST by
New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are available in Apple retail stores and are already in the hands of customers, and we picked up one of the new M2 Max machines to answer all of the questions MacRumors readers considering a purchase might have. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Yesterday, we asked MacRumors fans on...