iOS 14: The Destroyer of Online Advertising?
iOS 14, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software for iPhones, began rolling out this week, a few weeks before the expected arrival of this year’s new iPhone lineup.
A big change in the new operating system, which was unveiled this summer at the virtual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), is a variety of new privacy features, with many users who have downloaded the software noticing an unusually large number of privacy notifications.
According to a New York Times roundup of the privacy changes, apps must now ask for permission in order to access devices on the user’s network. Also, when apps ask for location data, users can now choose to share either their exact location or a proximate one, although exact locations are still required for navigation and mapping. Users can also limit which apps have access to which photos.
In addition, a banner now pops up whenever an app is accessing the device’s clipboard, while there are changes to how Autofill changes work, from Contacts.
Another proposed privacy change has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks. According to TechCrunch, and other media reports, Apple had said at WWDC that it would allow users to opt out of in-app ad tracking. However, after complaints from Facebook and other companies that collect huge amounts of revenue from advertising, Apple has confirmed that it will delay enforcement of that change.
Facebook, in a blog post in late August, argued that the changes would hurt its Audience Network business.
“This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately Apple’s updates to iOS14 have forced this decision,” the social media giant said in that post. “We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.”
“We are committed to ensuring users can choose whether or not they allow an app to track them. To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year,” Apple said on its developer website earlier this month.
The change also will apply to iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, in addition to iOS, Apple said.
“At Apple, we believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. As announced at WWDC20, App Store product pages will feature a new privacy information section to help users understand an app’s privacy practices,” the Apple site said. “Today we are publishing more details for developers on what will be covered in this new privacy section. By the end of next month, you will be able to submit your information via App Store Connect to prepare for this feature rolling out to users by the end of the year.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.