SAN RAMON, Calif. — Apple is following through on its pledge to crack down on Facebook and other apps that secretly shadow people on their iPhones in order to target more advertising at users.
The new privacy feature, called App Tracking Transparency (ATT) rolled out as part of a free update to the operating system powering the iPhone and iPad.
The new ATT feature requires any app to ask for permission to track a user's activity and share that information with other websites or companies. Previously, apps would get this permission when a user initially agreed to terms and conditions upon installation.
Apple says that companies that continue to track and sell users data will face penalties in the App Store.
The new feature is a win for iPhone users who value the privacy of their personal data. Apple argues that the new feature will keep its users safer online and more secure.
But the new feature could reshape the digital marketing world and could cause strain on small, online retail businesses that rely on tracking data to find customers. Among the companies most critical of Apple's new policy is Facebook, which called the ATT feature “harmful to small businesses,” “anticompetitive” and “hypocritical,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Ruslan Makhmudov, Paid Search Manager for Studio Center in Virginia Beach, agrees that some businesses may not be prepared.
“Small businesses, they might not even understand what’s the update, and sometimes, they might just see their results going down,” Makhmudov commented.
Makhmudov says if a user would like to see more relevant ads on their social media feeds, they should consider allowing the tracking.
“So, imagine if you start seeing ads for something super random like fishing supplies when you never go fishing or an ad for oil changes when you don’t even have a car," explained Makhmudov. "This is where it’s best to let the app track you, especially social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, maybe Tik Tok.”
The anti-tracking shield is coming out after a seven-month delay during which Apple and Facebook attacked each other’s business models and motives for decisions that affect billions of people around the world.
Among the other changes offered in iOS 14.5 is a workaround to unlock iPhones with Face ID when wearing a mask — though it requires an Apple Watch. The new system also offers new voice options for Siri, which will no longer default to a female voice.