With the launch of the new iOS 14 version in December 2020, there’s a lot of changes that third-party apps and websites need to adjust to. The operating system is now focused on better privacy practices and keeping the users’ personal information as safe as possible. But what does that mean to you and your digital product?

iOS 14 Privacy Features

If you own an iPhone or iPad, you have likely noticed some of the changes already. But that’s from the user’s perspective. How does Apple’s new privacy update affect developers and digital products’ owners? Here’s the key features of the new security update you need to know about if you offer your app on the Apple App Store or your users visit your website on their iPhone and iPad:

Privacy Information On The App Store

Since the launch of iOS 14, every app on the App Store will need to come with a “nutrition label”. Just as with food products, companies will need to share which data they collect, what do they track and which tracking practices they use etc. in a simple, easy-to-digest way. This is Apple’s way of providing more transparency for the users in terms of their security and privacy as well as being able to control their personal information.

App Tracking Controls And Transparency

The next crucial thing about the iOS 14 update is that in order to track the users, developers will first need to get their permission. In the settings of each iPhone and iPad, there’s a section where the user can control which apps can access which tracking services. If you plan on using any of the tracking services and features, you need to ensure your app asks the users their permission to track location, steps etc. What is also important is that the users can change their preferences at any time they wish. So if your app needs to track certain data in order to provide its functionalities, ensure to inform the user about that and ask for their permission to track the desired data.

Limited Photo Library Access

Up next on the key iOS 14 features list, the users now can decide whether your app or site can access the entire photos library or only selected photos. Pictures are a very personal possession, so it’s only natural that users want to protect them and keep them safe. Make sure your app or site asks the users to share the chosen images if they are necessary to your app’s functionality.

Approximate Location

The next key change from the new iOS is related to location services. Previously, if users chose to share their location data, it meant sharing their precise location. Now, they can choose to share their approximate location instead. This privacy feature makes the user feels secure while still enabling the app ad site developers to access and use location. If your app or site relies on location tracking, you have to make sure to adjust it to use the approximate location feature instead of the precise information.

Recording Indicator

The new update for iOS and iPadOS ensures that the user will never be recorded without their permission. From now on, when using any app on iPhone or iPad, the user will see an indicator if the camera or microphone are used. This information will have to be visible both inside the app as well as in the Control Centre on the user’s Apple device. If your app uses features like the camera or microphone, you have to feature this information in the app so that the users can easily find and see it.

Sign In With Apple

Another new feature that Apple offers with this iOS and iPadOS update is sign in with Apple. Companies can now upgrade existing app accounts to sign in with Apple for improved privacy. As with any other third-party log in or sign in like Facebook or Google, you may want to consider using this feature in your app. It makes it easier for people to start using your app and the set up is overall quicker.

Other Features

Along with those functionalities, there’s also a few additional privacy upgrades. Apple devices will now be masking the user’s Wi-Fi address and notify users when the app is monitoring their clipboard. Apple will also inform the users if their passwords or information has been involved in a data breach. Safari will also offer an easy-to-read report on which websites and apps access and use your data.

Update’s Impact Across Apps And Websites

First of all, this iOS feature will impact the targeted advertising market. Companies like Facebook and other data brokers have complained about the dramatic change of how the data can be gathered and used. Because of that, Apple has decided to give app and website owners more time and the new privacy features will not be enforced until early 2021. So if you have yet to adjust your app, now is the time to take those security and privacy measures into account. The way companies used to track data is by giving the users the option to turn off the tracking. Now, the user has to proactively agree to tracking and grant access to use their information.

Privacy And Data Wars

Apple’s approach to privacy may seem like a turning point in the app tracking and data-based advertising business. However, many companies have expressed their discontent with the new regulations. The use of personal data is a very complex topic. While they surely are companies who use data collected from apps and websites for the wrong purposes, there’s several cases when the data is crucial for the app’s functionality. Take Netflix for example – without tracking your data, the recommendations you see won’t be as tailored to your preferences. Other businesses like Facebook and Amazon rely on data to offer advertising services as well as improved customer experience. Apple’s approach shows that they are trying to find balance between privacy and collecting data across devices for useful purposes. After all, when using Safari on your iPhone, MacBook or other Apple devices, you will be more happy to find tailored ads and products. But it does come with a price tag of businesses gathering your data across different apps, devices and websites.

How To Prepare For The iOS Changes?

If your target audience uses Apple devices or you offer your app on App Store, you have to adjust your digital product to the new privacy guidelines. They are not huge changes for most apps, but in case of advertising businesses, they may have a big impact. For more specific information about the new privacy guidelines, read about the new iOS on the Apple website. Most of the changes will be invisible to the target audience, besides the changes in App Store and in the settings on their device.

If you’re looking for a partner to help you introduce prompt changes to your apps – contact us and let’s see what we can build together!