Despite positioning itself as a pro-privacy technology company, Apple has been accused by iOS developers of behavior that “should raise many privacy concerns.” It all has to do with the App Store ads and the way usage data is allegedly shared with Apple, even if the user has turned off analytics sharing and personalized recommendations.
The Twitter account Mysk, which is run by a couple of developers in Canada and Germany, posted a thread last week warning that if you use the App Store app in iOS 14.6, “every tap you make” will be recorded and sent to Apple. This happens regardless of user preferences and settings, the developers claim.
The thread further points out that this seems ironic, as iOS 14.5 saw the introduction of strict measures to prevent third-party developers from tracking users without permission.
It’s worth noting that the iOS 14.6 operating system is now over a year old, and the thread authors admit they don’t know if the same behavior occurs with iOS 16. Apple last updated iOS 14 to 14.8 in October 2021. . 1, which is newer than the version tested here.
But this seems more a matter of intent than a matter of technology, as the tracking took place amid the implementation of high-profile pro-privacy measures. It’s hard to see why Apple would still collect usage data under iOS 14.6 and then go back in a later update for no apparent reason.
Indeed, Apple has shifted its business model in the opposite direction since the heady days when App Tracking Transparency was touted as the future of user privacy. The increasing prevalence of App Store ads—despite the store already being a phenomenal revenue stream for Apple—indicates a strategy aimed at wringing out every drop of disposable income rather than prioritizing the user experience. And, of course, ads are much more effective when optimized with user data.