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iOS App Tracking Transparency will roll out in the spring
by João Carrasqueira
Last year, Apple announced that it would be giving users more control over how apps track their activities across apps and websites on iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. It's taken some time, but the company has provided a clearer timeline for the rollout of the feature, which will be available in the next beta update for the operating systems.
Called App Tracking Transparency, this new feature means that iOS and iPadOS apps will have to explicitly ask for consent from users in order to track their activity on apps and websites owned by other companies. If the user decides to not allow the app to track their activities, the app won't be given access to the system advertising identifier (IDFA), and Apple will also require apps to respect the user choice beyond that. If apps are found to be tracking the user after they asked not to be tracked, Apple may remove them from the App Store. Additionally, apps are obligated to provide users full access to their features with or without tracking permission.
Facebook heavily criticized Apple's move, stating that it will hurt part of its business as well as publishers' ability to grow through targeted advertising. In a later statement, the social network said Apple's "discouraging prompt" will hurt small businesses the most, taking away as much as 60% of the revenue they could make thanks to targeted ads. However, that doesn't seem to have deterred Apple. The move has also been criticized for potentially giving Apple preferential access to its advertising network, whereas other companies need specific permissions.
After it's available in beta, Apple plans to roll out App Tracking Transparency as part of an update to iOS 14 in the early spring. The announcement comes alongside the release of a report called "A Day in the Life of Your Data", where Apple talks about how its products and services help users maintain their privacy throughout the day. It's worth keeping in mind that some advertising platforms give users at least some control over how ads are personalized. Facebook already provides an option to turn off off-Facebook activity as well as other controls, and Google similarly allows users to turn off ad personalization.
By News Staff
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by Steven Parker
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By Abhay V
Apple releases iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, tvOS 14.4, and watchOS 7.3 for all users
by Abhay Venkatesh
Less than a week after seeding the release candidates for iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, tvOS 14.4, and watchOS 7.3, Apple has today released the updates for all users. These are minor updates to the operating system and bring with it a few minor features, along with the usual crop of bug fixes.
iOS 14.4 brings with it the ability to scan smaller QR codes from the device’s camera, adds Bluetooth device categorization for headphones and other audio devices, and can now notify iPhone 12 series users if the device camera is not genuine and fails to be verified after a repair. There are other bug fixes, including one that fixes artifacts in HDR photos shot on the iPhone 12 Pro. There are also fixes for some keyboard issues. The release notes are similar for iPadOS 14.4.
As for watchOS 7.3, there is a new Unity watch face inspired by the Pan-African flag. The update also adds the Time to Walk feature for Apple Fitness+ subscribers – a new feature that lets users listen to pre-recorded inspiring stories when they go for a walk. The update also opens up the ECG function and irregular heart rhythm notifications to more regions including Japan, Mayotte, Phillippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. There is also a fix for the Control Center and Notification Center unresponsiveness.
The Cupertino giant is also releasing tvOS 14.4. However, the release seems to be a minor one with under the hood improvements, as there have been no feature additions through the testing phase. As for macOS Big Sur 11.2, the firm served the second release candidate just yesterday, so it is not clear if that version for Macs will make it to all users today.
As usual, these updates will be available for download over the air for all devices. You can also head into settings to check for these updates and download them.
By Rich Woods
Apple seeds release candidates for iOS 14.4, watchOS 7.3, and more
by Rich Woods
Today, Apple is seeding release candidates for iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, watchOS 7.3, tvOS 14.4, and macOS 11.2 Big Sur to developers. They're the next minor updates for each of Apple's platforms. In fact, these are actually even more minor than the previous ones, which were more along the lines of mid-stream feature updates.
For iOS 14.4, you can now scan smaller QR codes with the camera, and you can also now classify Bluetooth device types for headphones and such. Also, and this might be an issue for some, but you'll get a notification if your iPhone's camera isn't considered genuine if you're using a device from the iPhone 12 series. There are also fixes for image artifacts in HDR photos, the Fitness widget, and more.
Next up is watchOS 7.3, which includes a new Unity watch face. It's inspired by the Pan-African flag and changed throughout the day as you move, so the face is supposed to be unique to the user. There's a Time to Walk feature for Fitness+ users, which shares stories as you walk. ECG is and irregular heart rhythm notification notifications are now open to more regions including Japan, Mayotte, Phillippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. And of course, there are fixes.
There's not much going on with tvOS 14.4, but macOS 11.2 Big Sur has a few minor changes. It improves Bluetooth reliability, and has fixes for external displays, edits in Apple's ProRAW format, and more.
These are meant to be final builds unless there are any major issues found. They'll likely roll out to the general public next week.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft Lists is now available for iOS
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft announced that its Lists app for iOS is now available. First announced at Build as a Trello competitor, it showed up as a web app in July with a promised iOS app coming later. Now, that app is here.
The Lists app, as you'd probably guess, lets you access and edit the lists that you own and have been shared with you; and of course, you can create new lists. The difference with the mobile app, however, is that it's really meant to be used more on the go than the web app is. Microsoft uses an example of creating an issue tracker list while you're drinking coffee, or sharing a list from the car. For more complex tasks, you're really meant to be using the web app.
Microsoft posted a demo of the app:
Here's a list of features that are included in the mobile app:
As you'd expect if you've been using the service, you can create new lists from scratch or from templates, and you can even use an Excel file to get started. The app also supports offline usage and dark mode.
Now for the fine print. You need an Office 365 commercial subscription that includes SharePoint to access Lists, so if you're on a consumer Microsoft 365 plan, you're out of luck here. Microsoft is working on an Android app, as it promised to produce back at Build, although it's not coming until later this year. Also, the company is promising iPad-specific features to be added to the iOS app at some point.