App makers shall not reward users, limit functionality or withhold content for permission to track, warns Apple Inc. as iOS 14.5 with ATT rolls out

Apple Inc. ATT iOS iPadOS 14.5
Apple Inc. could ban app developers who attempt to ‘game’ the ATT framework. Pic credit: Thomas Ulrich/Pixabay

Apple Inc. has released the controversial iOS 14.5 update which includes the ATT or App Tracking Transparency framework. The company has clearly cautioned app developers not to use tricks or manipulate, coax or coerce users into granting permission to track. Violating the conditions could earn a ban.

The new iOS 14.5 introduces new security or system-level prompt for apps. Simply put, apps must seek users’ permission to track them across apps and services. Apple Inc. has offered detailed guidelines that warn app developers about not using any tricks to seek or obtain permission.

Apple Inc. introduces or App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework in iOS and iPadOS 14.5:

The iPhone maker released an important and perhaps precedent-setting update for iOS and iPadOS. The v14.5 for these mobile operating systems has several new features and updates.

However, most importantly, it now mandates apps developers must seek and secure users’ permission before tracking them. Needless to add, companies like Facebook have been extremely vocal in ridiculing Apple Inc.

Companies like Google have seemingly tried delay tactics to avoid revealing just how much data their products and services gather. However, Apple Inc. hasn’t budged.

Starting with iOS and iPadOS 14.5, there’s a new framework. Henceforth, it is mandatory for all apps on the ‌App Store‌ to present users with a pop-up that asks whether they wish to be tracked or not.

Users are shown “Ask App Not to Track” and “Allow” in the pop-up as part of the new or App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. Following ATT’s release, Apple also updated its Human Interface Guidelines with a new section titled “Accessing User Data.”

In this new section, Apple is offering a mix of new and previously known information. The company has outlined the design policies that all apps must follow when they attempt to ask a user for their permission to access personal data, device capabilities such as microphone and camera, and consent to track them across apps and websites.

Be fair, open, and simple about seeking users’ permission to track them or face a ban:

As expected, several app developers will try and secure users’ permission to track them. Moreover, it is quite likely that several users will click on ‘Do Not Track’.

There are chances, app developers could try and trick users into granting system-level permission. However, Apple Inc. has warned that using any trick, incentive, or coercion techniques could get app developers banned.

Apple indicated that it expects to see some apps trying to circumvent ATT with gimmicks such as imitation or limiting an app’s functionality unless users grant permission to track. Apple’s new guidelines  also bar apps from attempting to mislead users to enable “Allow” for ad tracking by imitation or using a graphic that mimics the system pop-up.

The company has cautioned that it will ban any app that attempts to offer monetary incentives to users to convince them to enable tracking.

“Don’t offer incentives for granting the request. You can’t offer people compensation for granting their permission, and you can’t withhold functionality or content or make your app unusable until people allow you to track them.

Don’t display a custom message that mirrors the functionality of the system alert. In particular, don’t create a button title that uses “Allow” or similar terms, because people don’t allow anything in a pre-alert screen.

Don’t show an image of the standard alert and modify it in any way.

Don’t draw a visual cue that draws people’s attention to the system alert’s Allow button.”

Apple Inc. has had to deal with apps that initially comply with App Store guidelines but later receive an update that adds, removes, or changes their very purpose. Hence, the company will have to step up its monitoring and AI-based checks. It will have to ensure such apps do not trick users into granting permission to track.

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