We buy a phone, start using it, and ignore what’s happening behind the curtain. Most of us are unaware of how our data is being handled. So, to fix this and get users back in control of their valuable data, Apple offers its users a choice — do they want to be tracked or not? Let’s understand what Allow Apps to Request to Track is, how to enable it, and how to use it.
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What Is Allow Apps to Request to Track
Every app you install on your iPhone comes with trackers to track you across the web and also cross-app to serve you with more targeted adverts. And here comes Apple’s Allow Apps to Request to Track, which when enabled on your device will ask you if you want to be tracked by an app or not. The pop-up will simply serve you two options i.e, Ask App Not to Track or Allow. You can choose whether you want to share your data with an app or not. And this feature of requesting an app to track or not is called App Tracking Transparency.
Here’s an example. When you open Instagram, it will ask whether or not you want the app to allow tracking across the web and other apps. If you choose yes, Instagram will use something called IDFA or Identifier for Advertisers. This is a unique id that Apple assigns to each device it sells. Advertisers will now use all data associated with this id to understand what you order for food, what you buy on Amazon, the websites you visit, and so on. It will then use AI to identify patterns, learn buying behaviors, and use some fancy algorithms to serve targeted ads that might interest you.
Searching for tickets to Goa? You will see flight booking and even hotel booking ads for that location even on other apps now.
When you ask apps to not track you across other apps and sites that you use on your iPhone, they don’t have this data anymore. That is how Apple is trying to protect your data by giving you the power to choose and make informed decisions.
Note: When you turn off app tracking, you will continue to see the same number of ads. The only difference is that these ads will be less or not at all targeted because they don’t your personalized data to use. This does protect your privacy and data but doesn’t stop the advertisers from displaying ads.
Let’s take a look at how to enable and disable app tracking on iPhone.
Enable/Disable Allow Apps to Request to Track
Allow Apps to Request to Track is a privacy feature that was introduced in iOS 14.5. You can check your iOS version in General > Settings > About.
1. Unlock your iPhone and go to your home screen/springboard by swiping up on your screen. Swipe left until you see the App library open up.
2. Once the App Library opens, tap on the Search button and type Settings. Tap on Settings to open it. The Settings app will open now.
3. Scroll down Settings until you find the Privacy option. Tap on it to open Privacy Settings.
4. Now tap on Tracking to further open the tracking settings. Toggle on Allow Apps to Request to Track.
Note: Underneath that toggle, you will find a list of all the apps with trackers and their toggles next to them. You enable or disable app tracking here. If enabled, the toggle will show green and if disabled, it will show as greyed out.
5. Once the toggle is turned on, any app which has a tracker embedded in it will show you a pop-up. In the pop-up, it will show a message that why it wants to track you along with options to Allow or Ask App Not to Track. Choose either one of them according to your preference.
Tip: Learn what all the icons mean in the Control Center of your iPhone.
1. Can I use Allow Apps Request to Track feature on the iPad?
Yes, you can. Your iPad needs to be running on iPad OS 14.5 or higher. That’s the only requirement and the steps to enable and control the outcome remain the same.
2. What type of data it stops from being tracked?
The answer is all types of data like your health records, location, browsing history, age, and much more that can be used to deliver personalized ads to you.
3. Will it delete previously tracked and collected data?
No, it will stop apps from tracking and collecting data the moment you disable app tracking. However, data already collected won’t be deleted from the servers. It’s better to implement this immediately if you haven’t already and be aware of future tracking.
Stop Stalking Me
Once the Allow Apps to Request to Track is set up, any app that wants to track you on your iPhone will have to ask for your permission to do so. This is a very handy feature if you don’t want personalized ads across the web and on your iPhone. Also, it protects your fundamental right to privacy. What you do on your iPhone should be nobody’s business unless you want it to. This is a step in the right direction.
Another way to protect your privacy is by using a free or paid VPN app. Learn all about them in our in-depth comparison guide.