Apple pushes iOS 14's updated ad anti-tracking feature to 2021

The company is giving developers more time to get ready for the change.

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iOS 14 home screen
Chris Velazco / Engadget

Apple's iOS 14 promises to be one of the company's most significant software updates in years. Between additions like widgets and the App Library, there's a lot coming with iOS 14 that will likely change how you interact with your iPhone. But few of the features Apple detailed at WWDC 2020 have the potential to cause industry-wide ripples as much as Apple's decision to limit cross-site and -app tracking of iPhone and iPad users.

With iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, apps will need to ask for permission before collecting your phone or tablet's unique Identification for Advertisers device code. This identifier, also known as IDFA, is one way advertisers can, for example, find out that you've installed an app through a Facebook ad. Apple had initially planned to start enforcing this new policy with the release of iOS 14 later this year. The company says the rule will now go into effect "starting early next year" to give developers more time to make their apps compliant.

"We are committed to ensuring users can choose whether or not they allow an app to track them," the company said in a developer update it posted on Thursday. "To give developers time to make necessary changes, apps will be required to obtain permission to track users starting early next year."

While the policy is likely to be a major benefit to users, it has been controversial among some developers and advertisers. In particular, Facebook has warned it could have dire effects on its ad network. In testing, the company said it saw a 50 percent decline in Audience Network publisher revenue when ad personalization wasn't available as an option. The company went on to say the anti-tracking feature could make it so that it might not make sense for Facebook to offer the tool in iOS 14.

Apple also provided an update on another privacy-related feature. By the end of the year, developers will need to include a privacy information section on their App Store listings that detail how their software collects and stores user data. By the end of October, Apple will start accepting this information from developers.

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