Apple Will Require Apps to Request Permission to Track Users Starting With Next iOS 14 Beta Version

Apple today announced that its App Tracking Transparency privacy measure will be required starting with the next beta versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14. Apple says the software updates will be publicly released in the early spring.

app tracking transparency prompt ios 14
The requirement was originally set to go into effect last September, but Apple delayed to provide developers with more time to prepare.

With this change, all iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV app developers will need to receive a user's permission to track their activity across other apps and websites and access their device's random advertising identifier, known as the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), for targeted advertising purposes or to measure how effective their campaigns were.

Users will be presented with a prompt with options to "Allow Tracking" or "Ask App not to Track" when opening apps that wish to track their activity. Developers have already been able to add the tracking prompt to their apps in prior versions of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, using the App Tracking Transparency framework, but it has not been required and few apps have implemented the prompt voluntarily.

If a user selects "Ask App not to Track," Apple will block the app's developer from accessing the user's IDFA. The developer is also required to respect the user's tracking preference in general, meaning that they cannot use other methods to track the user, or else their app may face removal from the App Store, according to Apple.

Users can manage their tracking preferences on an app-by-app basis in the Settings app under Privacy > Tracking on iOS 14.

app tracking settings ios 14
A handful of ad networks and companies have criticized Apple's decision, including Facebook, which ran full-page newspaper ads and launched a website claiming that Apple's tracking change will hurt small businesses financially.

"We disagree with Apple's approach and solution, yet we have no choice but to show Apple's prompt," said Facebook. "If we don't, they will block Facebook from the App Store, which would only further harm the people and businesses that rely on our services. We cannot take this risk on behalf of the millions of businesses who use our platform to grow."

The non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation called Facebook's criticism "laughable," claiming that Facebook's campaign against Apple is really about "what Facebook stands to lose if its users learn more about exactly what it and other data brokers are up to behind the scenes." Firefox maker Mozilla also backed Apple's decision, calling it a "huge win for consumers."

Google has not publicly attacked Apple's decision, but in a blog post yesterday, the company warned developers that they may see a "significant impact" to their Google ad revenue on iOS once the App Tracking Transparency requirement begins. Google also said it will stop collecting IDFAs across its iOS apps so that it does not have to present users with Apple's tracking permission prompt in those apps.

Apple's stance is that users deserve control and transparency.

"We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users," said Apple, adding that "users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not."

Apple's announcement is timed with Data Privacy Day. Apple has commemorated the day by sharing "A Day in the Life of Your Data," a PDF report that explains how third-party companies track user data across websites and apps, highlights Apple's privacy principles, and provides more details about App Tracking Transparency.


Apple CEO Tim Cook will be speaking on data privacy today at the Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection conference, based in Brussels. Cook is scheduled to speak at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time, and a live stream will be available on YouTube.

Related Roundups: iOS 14, iPadOS 14
Related Forum: iOS 14

Top Rated Comments

eicca Avatar
14 weeks ago
If your business relies on sneaky covert data collection then you need to rethink your business. Bravo Apple.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AmazeSE Avatar
14 weeks ago
This is something only Apple can do. Imagine Google releasing a privacy update like Apple to all Android Smartphones.
That would be destructive for them. They would lose a lot of money. It's suicidal. This is why only Apple can be trusted with Privacy since Apple's business model does not depend on Ads and tracking unlike Google or Facebook.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
14 weeks ago
Thank you Apple for providing the choice to protect my family. Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, and Zuck are pathetic.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
timborama Avatar
14 weeks ago
“The developer is also required to respect the user's tracking preference in general”.

Good luck with that.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
honghai2196 Avatar
14 weeks ago

This is something only Apple can do. Imagine Google releasing a privacy update like Apple to all Android Smartphones.
That would be destructive for them. They would lose a lot of money. It's suicidal. This is why only Apple can be trusted with Privacy since Apple's business model does not depend on Ads and tracking unlike Google or Facebook.
If google releases an similar privacy option like Apple does, it will have a method named isAccessible() and it's always return TRUE whether end-user toggles ON or OFF.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subjonas Avatar
14 weeks ago

Am I missing something here? To me, what this above statement says, is that Google isn’t going to abide by the new guidelines...

Exactly. Everyone giving kudos to Apple is falling for its marketing. Apple is making a virtue of increasing a tiny bit of privacy knowing full well there are other ways for companies to track us. In time, Apple will block some of these while leaving other tracking methods untouched.

This is not about privacy. This is about Apple pretending to be the privacy champion for their own profit.
No, it means Google is abiding by the new guidelines, and that they opted to not track (via this particular means), rather than have to ask to track. Whether they have some workaround remains to be seen.

It’s a very cynical and unsubstantiated view to call Apple virtue signaling here when they are taking concrete steps to promote transparency and user control. It’s a complex issue for sure and this won’t completely solve it, but it makes a significant impact. The evidence for that is in the reaction of Facebook. Yes, Apple may be profiting as well, but as a consumer I don’t care about that. I only care if they’re taking action steps to protect my data.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
snapchat dark mode

Snapchat Rolls Out Dark Mode on iOS

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:17 am PDT by
Nearly two years following the release of iOS and iPadOS 13, which included native, built-in, and systemwide dark mode, Snapchat, one of the world's most prominent social media networks, has finally rolled out a dark mode theme for iOS users. Snapchat began testing a dark mode theme of its app design late last year with a small group of iOS users. Now, Snapchat says that as of this week, it...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Brydge's 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Keyboard With Trackpad

Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:48 am PDT by
Brydge has been making keyboards for Apple's iPads for years now, and the newest model, the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, is compatible with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPad Pro models, so it works even with the new mini-LED iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ to see if it's a viable...
iphone 13 pro max dummy notch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Dummy Model Depicts Smaller Notch

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 13 models are expected to feature a slimmed down notch, marking the first major change to the TrueDepth camera system since it was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X. We're still months away from the launch of the iPhone 13, but Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy managed to get an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy model that represents what we can expect from the new 2021 device. Dummy...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
netflix sign up

Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases

Wednesday May 5, 2021 11:03 am PDT by
As the Epic Games v. Apple trial progresses into its third day, Apple's internal documents and communications with various companies are continuing to surface, giving us some insight into the dealings that Apple has had around the App Store. Back in December 2018, Netflix stopped offering in-app subscription options for new or resubscribing members and instead began requiring them to sign up ...
airtags

AirTag Owners Bemoan Inability to Let Others Track Their Items Via Family Sharing

Tuesday May 4, 2021 5:12 am PDT by
Apple's new AirTag item trackers have been making their way into the hands of customers since Friday, and while the company has tried to describe the ways that they can be used to find lost items, many users are still surprised and disappointed to learn that the location of an AirTag can't be shared with other family members. On the face of it, sharing the location of an AirTag via Apple's...