Tristram Bates

Engineering Manager and iOS Lead

iOS14.5 Update

20210421

Apple’s Final Clamp Down on Developer Access

 

It has been over 7 months now since Apple launched its latest update, iOS14, which had major consequences for betting and gaming operators thanks to Apple’s strong move to improve privacy and enforce its dominance in the tech space. Widgets and App Clips introduced in iOS14 were impressive features that allow operators to further engage with their players and bring innovation to the forefront of their apps. However, more concerning features from this update included the “Approximate Location” setting and tracking permission changes. Although iOS14 gave users significantly more control over their data, it resulted in app owners having much less freedom, setting a real challenge for the gaming and betting industry.

For years now, the tech firm has been closing off developer access to the unique IDs that make a device identifiable. Apple will finally clamp down on the last remaining access, Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA), when it launches iOS14.5. IDFA is a way for an app to track a user on their phone across different apps and services in order to deliver customised advertising. This is all set to change, so advertisers will no longer have visibility on whose phone is whose and users can be truly anonymous. Originally due to be launched in Autumn last year, Apple delayed its tracking permission changes due to increasing pressure from 3rd parties, including Facebook. Apple cited "we want to give developers the time they need to make the necessary changes." The countdown is now on!

We have already seen an impact from iOS14’s focus on privacy, as all apps on the App Store are now required to describe what data they collect from a user and whether it is used for tracking. With iOS14.5, users will now receive a system prompt from Apple, asking for consent to track them or access their IDFA. If users do not give their permission, advertisers will no longer have visibility of whose phone is whose, so users can remain completely anonymous. Although opting out of IDFA has been an option for iOS users in the past, this was a universal setting hidden inside the settings screen, meaning a user would need to search for it deliberately. Moving forward there will be an explicit permission request for each app.

Although Apple has made several reassuring improvements through their recent updates to user privacy, by giving more fine-grained indicators of both when and why user data is being used by apps on their devices, this has big ramifications for most apps. For example, tracking is used to prioritise the development of new features or improvements to existing features. The consequence for the betting industry is that users visiting an iGaming app or website will be able to view which affiliate sites are tracking their behaviour - and block them from doing so. Although this gives greater transparency to customers, it increases the opacity for operators on player behaviour with potentially severe consequences.

Following April 20th’s Apple Event, iOS14.5 is expected to be released in a week’s time.

 

If you are interested in more details about this topic, or wish to enquire about our iOS14 Consultancy workshops, please do contact us at hello@mkodo.com