Every Apple device has an Identification for Advertisers (IDFA) code that advertisers use to track you. That’s how they keep track of you from one app to another and browse the web. Apple planned to make advertisers ask permission to use the feature in iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, but now it says it will delay the requirement.
When you’re watching an Instagram video and see an advertisement for a product, you might tap on it to learn more. When you’re playing a game and see an advertisement for another game, you might tap on it to download the suggestion. That’s the goal of the ads, but advertisers need to know when they succeeded.
To that end, Apple implemented IDFA codes that allow advertisers to identify your device but not you. It’s a balancing game of tracking and anonymity. Companies like Facebook rely on the IDFA code for much of its mobile ad revenue.
Apple previously announced that starting in iOS 14, developers of apps and games with ads would need to show a prompt asking permission to provide your IDFA code to advertisers. Naturally, developers (who rely on ad revenue) weren’t happy, and Facebook loudly complained.
Apparently, those complaints worked, at least for now. Apple announced in an update that it would delay its plan to require permission. The company still plans to implement the privacy feature though, and says it’s giving developers time to implement the change. As it spelled out in a developer update:
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.
So while developers can implement the new request dialog when iOS drops if they want, they don’t have to until sometime in 2021. That seems to walk the balance of giving advertising and developers a chance to adjust while letting Apple tout its “focus on privacy” to users.