Apple's much contested privacy feature that will require app developers to seek permission from users to track them for ad targeting will be launched with the next iOS 14 beta, the company has said.
The iPhone maker is planning to release the feature to all some time this spring, The Verge reported on Thursday. While Apple has positioned the feature as a safeguard for user privacy, it has also faced criticism from others including Facebook which runs ad networks.
Besides those that run ad networks, the new policy is also expected to hurt the bottom lines of those companies paying for the ads. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that the iOS 14 privacy changes will impact the growth of millions of businesses around the world.
"Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own," Zuckerberg said on an earnings call on Wednesday.
"This impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world, including with the upcoming iOS 14 changes." Facebook earlier published full-page newspaper ads to criticise Apple's upcoming privacy measure.
Google on Wednesday also warned that Apple's App Tracking Transparency changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions - like app installs and sales - and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions.
"As such, app publishers may see a significant impact to their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple's ATT policies take effect," Christophe Combette, Group Product Manager, Google Ads, said in a blog post.
Apple has defended the new privacy measure as a way to provide iOS users more choices over their privacy. Reacting to full-page newspaper ads by Facebook, Apple said that users should know when their data is being collected.
"We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites -- and they should have the choice to allow that or not," Apple said in a statement last month.
"App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice".
Apple has brought out a new online guide called "A Day in the Life of Your Data" to further bolster its push for the new measures.
Apple says the average mobile app has six trackers that share your data with other apps, and that data brokers regularly collect and sell, license, or otherwise disclose to third parties the personal information of particular individuals with whom they do not have a direct relationship.
"Over the past decade, a large and opaque industry has been amassing increasing amounts of personal data," the guide reads.
"A complex ecosystem of websites, apps, social media companies, data brokers, and ad tech firms track users online and offline, harvesting their personal data. This data is pieced together, shared, aggregated, and monetized, fuelling a $227 billion-a-year industry,
"This occurs every day, as people go about their daily lives, often without their knowledge or permission."