Google doesn’t want your permission to track you on iOS

Posted on Feb 1, 2021 by Caleb Chen
Google doesn't want your permission to track you on iOS

Google will be updating its in house iOS apps to avoid scaring users with a tracking permission prompt. Apple’s iOS14 privacy upgrades – specifically Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) initiative will force apps to get express permission to be tracked for advertising purposes from app users via a tracking permission prompt. Instead of showing this prompt to users on its first party iOS apps, Google will be updating its apps to stop using the IDFA (Identifier For Advertisers) for tracking – thus avoiding having to show a tracking permission prompt per Apple’s new rules. Whether Google actually stops tracking your Google app use, remains to be seen.

Google to stop using IDFA to track iOS users

Unfortunately, Google’s move to stop tracking the IDFA doesn’t mean that Google will stop tracking users that connect via iOS apps. As 9to5Google’s Abner Li comments:

“Of course, Google presumably has other tracking methods, while everything in their stack is technically considered first-party.”

Maybe we’ll see what the other tracking methods are in the forthcoming privacy nutrition labels. As of yet, Google’s apps do not have privacy labels but Google assured the public that they are coming with the next update. While the privacy labels have already increased public awareness of how data hungry apps’ privacy policies can be. Still, there are increasingly rumbles from app developers that Apple’s privacy nutrition labels can be inaccurate as companies can claim one thing and actually do another.

Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes have caused quite a stir among the tech giants. Companies like Facebook have taken particular offense while companies like Google are scrambling to dampen the impact. On Google’s end, the tracking permission prompt is expected to lower expected ad revenues across the board – not just in Google’s first party apps – as users of apps that still track the IDFA deny access when prompted.