Apple’s iOS 14 Operating System’s Effects on User Data

In June of 2020, Apple made announcements at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) about product and policy changes coming in early 2021 that would affect the user data shared with advertisers. The update went live in September of 2020. However, advertisers are just starting to realize the impact that this update will have on their efforts.  

How Apple is Changing Its Approach to User Data 

Since WWDC, Apple has begun to roll out more information on what its new approach to user privacy will look like.  

The updates fall under what Apple is calling App Tracking Transparency and will occur in the Apple app store and within individual apps listed in the app store. 

The Changes to the Apple App Store 

In the app store, users will notice additions on the respective app product pages. As a new requirement to list an app in the app store, app developers must include information on how their app will collect and use data.

The In-App Changes  

The next major change comes once someone opens an individual app in the form of a tracking transparency prompt. The prompt will ask users to opt-in to sharing their data with the app. Additionally, the updated privacy protections will require app developers to get permission before accessing other devices on a local network. With the update, users can limit app access to specific photos on their devices, and Apple has created new icons that show up on a device when an app is using a camera or microphone. There are also new options for users to share approximate location data with apps.

As you can imagine, some of these will have major impacts on advertisers. The opt-in prompt is a significant change because it is a complete pivot from the way apps have been dealing with data control in the past. In most cases, apps have used an “Opt-out” approach, meaning it is on the user to go into the settings and uncheck the box in order to stop an app from tracking and sharing their data.  

Consumer data has consistently been a hot topic over past years starting with the EU’s approval of their General Data Privacy Regulation. That was followed by the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal in 2018 which led to the passing of California’s Consumer Privacy Act and the 2020 Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma.  

The anticipation is that with the increase in conversations around consumer data, more iOS users will opt-out of opting-in to sharing their data. While the change may seem minimal to a user, its effect on advertising will be significant because the ability to serve users relevant ads based on their web activity relies on them opting-in.  

It remains to be seen how individual advertising platforms will adapt to a post-cookie world but one thing is clear, they will need to.  

Stay tuned as we’ll be rolling out more posts on this topic as we gain more information.