Apple's latest TV ad shows what the App Tracking Transparency feature is supposed to do

Apple's latest TV ad shows what the App Tracking Transparency feature is supposed to do
Apple today released its latest television ad which positions iOS (and thus the iPhone) as the privacy champions in the industry. It also provides a good visual representation of what the recently launched App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature is designed to do. Included with the recent iOS 14.5 update, ATT allows users to opt-in to be tracked by third-party apps across the internet and apps, or demand to opt-out of being tracked.

Those who give permission to be tracked can look forward to receiving ads related to recently searched items, or discounts from stores in the user's vicinity. The latest data from Flurry shows that as of May 16th, only 15% of iOS users worldwide have decided to opt-in for tracking while in the U.S. that number is 6%.

Apple's new ad gives users a visual representation showing how ATT is supposed to work


Apple's new ad begins in a coffee shop where a young man named Felix is picking up the coffee he ordered. He gets into a ride share with the barista right alongside him and when the driver asks for Felix's birthday, the barista gives it to him. This is supposed to represent how a person's personal data can get passed around when they are tracked by third-party apps.

The ride share carrying Felix and the barista is being tracked by unseen people, representing the trackers that keep an eye on your location data without your knowledge. The three walk into a financial institution together where Felix is presented with a document showing what he spent last month. But before he can look at it, strange people behind him are grabbing at the data.


Soon, there is a large crowd following Felix as he walks into a pharmacy. The crowd has grown exponentially in size as the whole gang walks down the street and into Felix's home where there is no room left to make a move. But there is a solution.

Felix picks up his iPhone and sees the ATT feature for an app called "Pal About." He opts out of tracking by pressing the "Ask App Not to Track" option and all of those people who were becoming Felix's unwanted entourage start disappearing. The message posted by Apple says, "Choose who tracks your information. And who doesn't."

The tag line? "Privacy. That's iPhone." The point being of course, that if you choose not to allow third-party apps to track you on the iPhone, your personal data and every move you make won't be available for others to use.

Last year Apple released its App Privacy Labels


While Felix didn't want to be tracked, the few that don't mind seem to prefer the convenience of having ads and discounts pop up on their screen. Does this outweigh the leaking of your personal data? Most would say no, but it is a personal decision that you will have to make.

The new TV spot weighs in at 60 seconds although an edited 30 second version might also be made. The ATT is the feature that riled Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the latter feared that small businesses would be hurt by a large number of users opting out of tracking. But Facebook is not neutral here and it has plenty of skin in this game thanks to the approximate $84 billion in ad revenue it garnered last year.

Last year, Apple added App Privacy Labels to new apps and existing apps that have been updated. Found under the Ratings & Review section of an app listing in the App Store, App Privacy shows you what data a certain app may collect that could be linked to your identity, the data collected that cannot be linked to you, and the data collected that could be used to track you across third-party apps and websites. Of course, if you opt-out of third-party tracking, that last bit of information should not matter.
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