Privacy is on everyone’s mind these days. Last spring, iOS 14.5 introduced a new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency that may have made users happier, but not endeared Apple to some other companies, notably Facebook. The feature is still available in iOS 15, along with some new privacy features.
Many apps don’t just track your movements within the app, but they track your movements outside the app — in other words, where you go after you leave the app. This is why you see ads on Facebook and other apps for products you just viewed on Amazon or other sites.
Before 14.5, you could disable tracking for all your apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and unchecking “Allow apps to allow tracking requests”. The version that first appeared in iOS 14.5 allows you to be more specific. For starters, when you install a new app, you don’t have to do anything; you will be automatically asked if you want the new app to follow you.
If you want to see which apps have requested permission to track and possibly change their tracking settings, you can just go to that same Tracking page. There you can give or withdraw that permission. So:
- Go to your iPhone’s settings and select Privacy > Tracking.
- Under “Allow apps to track,” you will now see a list of specific apps that have requested that permission. You can allow or revoke that permission for any specific app.
And you can still use “Allow apps to track” to disable permission for all of your current (and future) apps.
(Note: At first, the App Tracking Transparency feature didn’t seem to behave well for some people; it didn’t respond or the switch in Tracking was grayed out. On May 3, Apple released update 14.5.1, which was supposed to fix the problem. According to 9to5Mac, the solution has not worked for some people; however, at least one employee at The edge reported that his switch was no longer gray. No such issues have been reported recently.)
Update April 27, 9:20 AM ET: This article has been updated to include a note regarding issues with the new feature.
Update May 10, 2:50 PM ET: The note regarding issues with the new feature has been updated.
Update October 13, 5:20 PM ET: This article has been updated to confirm iOS 15 has shipped.