When Tim Cook and Apple developers announced the iOS 14, back in June last year, the major focus was on enhancements to user experience including a revamp of the home screen. Amongst other things adding widgets, and Picture-In-Picture video mode, which was a first for iPhones at the time.
One of the most anticipated and talked about releases from Apple is now available. The update, called iOS 14.5, gives iPhone and iPad users a whole new slew of features and enhancements. It includes Widgets, Siri translation support, COVID-19 Notifications, and the much-talked-about App Tracking Transparency feature.
Before we dive into the most prevalent change with the App Tracking Transparency, and how it affects your apps, let’s shortly list some of the new features in the latest iOS 14.5 update from the tech giant.
Apple introduces new Siri voices that are no longer automatically selected or named by gender. Instead, it is now possible to choose your preferred voice by Variety (dialect based on supported languages) and then by Voice.
One of the newest introductions is AirTag. AirTag is a small battery-powered device that connects with the Find My iPhone app on iOS devices to easily track lost items from third parties.
One of the most valued and rising ways of interacting, gaining knowledge, and sharing ideas are getting a revamp in the latest iOS update. The new version introduces the ability to subscribe to paid podcasts as well as adding a new interface. The new interface includes big artwork, and the possibility to view similar podcasts when in a playlist style view
While these features are exciting, they are greatly overshadowed by the implementation of the new privacy policies for data tracking in the iOS 14.5 update. Let’s dive into that, we assume that’s why you are here anyway.
Apple’s app iOS tracking policies, called App Tracking Transparency (ATT) is a major step for Apple, as they are the first big tech company, who have taken steps to address users’ concerns about privacy and data protection.
ATT includes sweeping changes in how companies are able, or now unable, to track users across apps and the internet. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and all the other major tech companies are now limited in their ability to track users across apps and websites.
Users now are able to decide whether or not they want the apps to track them across platforms and other apps. Simply put, Apps like Facebook are now required to get the users’ permission before tracking them. They need permission to collect their data on other apps or share it with third parties.
The tracking request looks like this. 80% of the users are expected to opt out, meaning that companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google will experience frictions in their data. Previously, they had access to purchase history, location data, and browsing history. All this data has allowed these companies to personalize their ads and user experiences without the user ever putting anything in the shopping cart first.
Naturally, Facebook has not taken these new updates lightly and warned that the changes will hurt small businesses the most. They claim that small businesses depend on Facebook for their ads to reach their customers. Google has chosen a different approach than Facebook. As they are adding their own identifiers to help track user behavior as they phase out third-party cookies and look to implement similar features to those of Apple’s iOS 14 5.
Users will not experience major changes in the functionality of their apps, even if they choose to opt-out of the tracking. The only change will be potentially less relevant ads in the apps, but Stephen Beck, founder of consulting firm cg42, says:
“No one wakes up and says, ‘I can’t wait to see some good ads today.’ Ads, in general, are an interruption and get in the way of the service”
So why is Apple introducing these changes now? Studies have shown that the general public has been losing trust in big tech companies since 2016, and the iPhone creator claims that ATT is being implemented to give users transparency and control of their own data. iOS cookies and tracking is the first step to do something about privacy in iOS14.5
Some have expressed concern that ATT is replacing the previous protection system, Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA), with shadowy techniques including fingerprinting, but Apple claims these concerns are unwarranted.
Instead, the focus is on being able to enforce the ATT, such as requiring to ask the users for permission to track them across applications and the internet. If an app despite not receiving permission continues to track users, it can be removed from the App Store.
ATT applies to Apple’s own apps too, but they claim that none of these tracks data to share it with advertisers.
In a time where the hottest topic in digital marketing is privacy and transparency, Apple’s changes are a welcome thing. People should have a choice when deciding whether they value privacy over more personalized data. It should be a choice to opt-out or in, rather than only opt-out as it had been previously.
While Facebook claims it will hurt small businesses the most, we do not share this sentiment yet. It is simply too early to tell.
However, we have some suggestions for how you can take early steps to ensure your app has the highest possibility to retain access to user data and can continue to deliver crisp ads and personalized experiences for your customers.
You need to ensure that you show your users that your app is trustworthy or presents value for them. Find the right moment to display the tracking permission prompt so the odds of an opt-in response are higher. We recommend not showing the permission prompt immediately as the app launches, give yourself a chance to show your users why you should be able to track them, and your positive responses should be higher.
As seen in the example earlier in this guide, a part of the message the user receives can be customized. Use this to your benefit and tell what value data tracking brings to the users. An example could be: “Your data will be used to provide you with content that is in line with your interest, and minimize the intrusion of irrelevant ads for you.”
Make sure your users understand that they will still receive ads. They will just be less relevant and more random if they do not allow you to track their data through IDFA.
This advice takes a lot more time than the others. However, It could prove to be the most future-proof choice, as Google and other tech companies look to implement similar changes to Apple.
Big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google are losing a lot of their data points. Your app or your company being dependent on them will only prove to be a risk for the future.
Now could be the time to look towards owning your own data. To rely on other companies has proved to be a risky approach with the new sweeping changes from Apple. Instead, take ownership of your data, which gives you greater flexibility. Make sure you follow GDPR guidelines as well as protecting yourself and your data against future changes.
One way of doing this is investing in a Customer Data Platform, such as the one from Custimy.io. With the use of first-party data, you ensure that your customers have given you full permissions to track them across platforms, apps, and the internet. You can move that deciding step ahead of your competition if you use data correctly and know what KPIs to track.
You will also have a full view of your customers’ experience, something Facebook might not be able to do any longer with the newest update from Apple, meaning you can still deliver those crisp ads that hit the right customer every single time.
If you own your own customer data – not even Apple can ruin your day like Facebook claims they do.