Apple has always defended privacy as a “human right” while the company has never liked the idea of having ads on its platforms. But since the App Store is now getting new ad placements, some people have worried about how the company’s policies might change. To add more fuel to the fire, the developers discovered that Apple can keep track of everything you type while browsing the App Store.
Apple knows everything you press on the App Store
Two developers and security researchers who identify themselves as “Mysk” have raised privacy concerns about the App Store receiving more ads. Specifically, the developers revealed that iOS sends Apple a detailed log of how users interact with the App Store.
As a brief video shows, usage data includes details about where the user taps on the screen. This information is sent in real time to Apple via a JSON file.
According to the developers, the company has been tracking user actions in the App Store since the release of iOS 14.6 in May 2021. Interestingly, as noted BGR José Adorno, the company introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature a month earlier with iOS 14.5.
There’s no official explanation of how Apple uses this data, but it seems the company is still tracking users as they browse the App Store. It should be noted that since Apple started offering ads on the App Store, developers have access to certain statistics on the performance of their ads. So this data can be linked to that.
Even though Apple may claim that the collected data is not shared with third parties, it seems quite controversial because Apple has created barriers to make it harder for third parties to track iOS users, which has affected Google’s advertising platforms and Meta. And according to Mysk, App Store data is sent to Apple even when Personalized Ads is disabled.
App Store Ads
Last month, Apple introduced new ad placements on the App Store. Where previously developers could only promote their apps in App Store Search, now they can pay to display their apps on app pages and in the Today tab.
Shortly after the new ad slots became available, many users criticized them for showing irrelevant or ethically questionable content, such as casino and dating apps. The company then temporarily suspended ads for these apps, but it’s unclear what will happen next.
Apple is rumored to be planning to serve even more ads to its users in the future. At the same time, the company is making it harder for competitors to reach iOS users with ads, which could potentially lead to a new antitrust investigation.
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