Why is Apple's “App Tracking Transparency” Bothering Mark Zuckerberg?


Apple recently rolled out the iOS 14.5 update globally, bringing in a plethora of new features, including the ability to unlock the device with the Apple Watch while wearing a mask. However, there's another new feature that might not sound the coolest but is very significant for most users - "app tracking transparency."


App tranparency

This new feature also marks a new chapter in user-oriented privacy. Well, that didn't go down well with everyone, especially Facebook, which makes most of its revenue by tracking users' browsing patterns to push targeted ads. Some commentators have even described it as the dawn of a new war between Apple and Facebook.

How Does App Tracking Transparency Work?

How Does App Tracking Transparency Work?

Apple, over the years, has focused heavily on user privacy, and the new feature is another testament to the same. It shows pop-up notifications that show the data the apps want to collect and their purpose for collecting it. Users don't need to turn on/off the feature; they only need to update their iPhones to the latest iOS. Once done, apps that track user history will offer a pop-up to opt-in or out.

Apple explains the new feature as a new API, a set of commands open for developers to interact with iOS. This API provides developers with some pre-determined functions, letting them perform tasks such as "request tracking authorization" or "check the authorization status" of individual apps.

In simpler terms, it lets app developers request tracking permission for a user in a uniform manner. It also means iOS can store and check permissions granted to apps on the device.

Is There A Workaround?

Is There A Workaround?

If an app uses legitimate "device advertising identifiers," then opting out will work, reducing the app's tracking mechanism. However, many techniques could allow them to create user-specific identifiers, which might escape Apple's privacy policies. It's unlikely that major app developers will ignore this crackdown, as a ban from the Apple App Store could prove costly.

Apple seems prepared for the worst-case scenario. The company has added new guidelines for developers that read: "You must receive explicit permission from users via the App Tracking Transparency APIs to track their activity."

What’s Bothering Zuckerberg’s Facebook?

What’s Bothering Zuckerberg’s Facebook?

Facebook is heavily dependent on web users' data, and anything that jeopardizes its mammoth money-minting network is unwelcomed. The social media goliath made 84 billion dollars in 2020 from advertising, which is 21% higher than its revenue in the previous year.

While Facebook's profit could take a huge with the new user privacy-oriented policies, Apple is well-positioned to make profits without compromising on privacy. Apple's revenue is generated from the sales of iPhones, laptops, smartwatches, and other products in its vast ecosystem of products, while a fraction of it comes from apps and in-app purchases. The company raked in 64 billion dollars last year.

In the end, it all boils down to a user's preference. If apps witness users opting out of their tracking models, developers might be forced to switch to paid app models or might find new ways to track users to keep their ad-generated revenue intact.

If you want to prevent developers from selling your data to third parties, this feature might be a handy solution to do so. However, it's imperative to understand that this might cut down personalized ads but won't put an end to digital advertising.

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