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iOS App Tracking Transparency will roll out in the spring

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.

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