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05.05.2021

New iOS Update Is Out to Change Everything

New iOS Update Is Out to Change Everything

The recent iOS update from v.14.5 to v.14.5.1 has caused commotion throughout the software developer community. Apple has made a big step towards user privacy, as iOS now requires all apps to explicitly ask for permission to track user activity. Facebook protested against this new feature, arguing that it could hurt the monetization model of free apps and cause serious revenue loss. Supporting their position, Apple claims that users must have the right to decide whether to share personal data and activity. Daniil Chernov, CTO of Solar appScreener, believes that Apple’s initiative makes sense but may have a major global impact, eventually putting most free apps on a commercialized track – a development which is already in the air.

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Most free apps rely on a business model that involves collecting data for better advertising. Software developers sell this data to advertisers to allow for the display of offers that are truly relevant for a particular user. This is where free apps earn most of their revenue, while even some paid apps process and sell user data to increase revenue. 

Starting with iOS 14.5, users will be able to refuse to have their online activity tracked by any program. This means that many free services will no longer be able to rely on revenue they normally generate from sales of anonymized advertising profiles. From now on, iOS-focused software developers will have to look for new steady sources of income, with a paid subscription being the most likely scenario. 

For instance, Facebook and Instagram (its affiliate) are already preparing users for the possibility that they will one day have to pay for services. Notifications asking for permission to collect data claim "Help keep Facebook/Instagram free of charge". Furthermore, Apple will only benefit from adopting paid-only iOS apps, since App Store receives a 30% commission on each subscription or purchase. 

Nevertheless, Apple’s measures to protect user privacy are justified, with the number of data leaks growing exponentially. When dozens of services installed on a smartphone collect data about a user, sooner or later personal information could leak from one source and end up in the public domain or on a forum for hackers. The anonymized data that apps collect in the form of advertising identifiers can easily be matched with personally identifiable information. As a result, hackers can get a detailed user profile and exploit it not just for advertising, but also for fraud and theft.


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