Apple announced the release to developers of its iOS 14.4 update, which rumors say could prompt the controversial anti-tracking feature to go live.
In 2020, Apple announced its iOS 14 update would have a new feature that would give users more power over certain apps, particularly those that gather data about a user's random advertising identifier so the app could deliver tailored ads and track the efficacy of an ad campaign. The feature is supposed to go live last year but Apple moved the date to early 2021, specifically the month of January. With the latest iOS 14.4 update to developers, which many say is the last step before releasing it to the public, rumors indicate that the update could prompt Apple's controversial anti-tracking feature to go live.
Controversial anti-tracking feature is about to go live in iOS 14 https://t.co/LPZAaYG10p by @edfromfreelance pic.twitter.com/tW653ITCQi — Cult of Mac (@cultofmac) January 21, 2021
Apple released the iOS 14.4 update and its iPad equivalent to developers on Thursday. Sources say the new versions could prompt the controversial anti-tracking feature to go live, which gives iPhone and iPad owners the power to prevent third-party apps from tracking them. Many developers, including Facebook, had raised a howl over such a decision, claiming that Apple's anti-tracking privacy feature would have a "harmful effect" on small businesses that rely on Internet advertisements to stay afloat. However, in the end, the social media giant, rather than risk being removed from the App Store, was left no choice but to comply.
Near Final Version
According to Apple, the iOS 14.4 update that it released to developers is a "Release Candidate," which indicates the version is near final. Assuming there are no bugs, then the Cupertino tech giant can launch it as a public release. Since rumors indicate that the latest iOS update could usher in Apple's controversial anti-tracking feature, it means releasing it publicly signals that the function is now live.
Apple also released to developers the watchOS 7.3 update, as well as its tvOS 14.4 update. Like the iOS 14.4 and its iPad counterpart, both the tvOS 14.4 and the watchOS 7.3 are Release Candidates. Rumors did not indicate if these updates also include the Cupertino tech giant's controversial anti-tracking feature, though since Apple is serious about making the feature live of major iOS devices, you can safely assume these other updates also have the feature.
Tweaks In New Versions
Some of those who received the iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 beta versions earlier said the updates allowed them to force iPhone apps to divulge if they have tracking features they use for advertising purposes. With Apple's controversial anti-tracking function integrated into the iOS update, users can either opt-in or opt-out from such features. Once released publicly, the function will become live. While many developers opposed the feature, they have no choice but to comply as Apple made it clear at the outset that failure to include privacy labels that prompt user permission can no longer update their app on the App Store.