In the next few days, if you update your iPhone or iPad’s operating system to iOS 14.5, you will start to be beset with pop-ups asking if you want to let apps “track your activity”. What is it about?
It may seem like the entire tech industry has suddenly moved towards more intrusive surveillance. In truth, Apple just forced companies to ask your permission for something that many of them have been doing invisibly for years already.
Just as iPhone apps need to get consent to access your location, contacts, or camera, they now need to do the same before they can see your unique advertising ID number, known as IDFA, which can be used to track your behavior from app to app and ultimately the internet.
App makers regularly share user IDFAs with other companies such as Google and Facebook, which combine them to form a complete picture of your smartphone’s habits. App makers can in turn use these systems to target specific people or check how many people who saw their ads ended up using their products.
But IDFAs can also be shared, sold, and disclosed across the web, allowing unscrupulous entities to combine data about the same people from different departments for their own purposes. Hence Apple’s update, which allows iPhone users to choose exactly which companies can track them.
Face mask facial recognition
With face masks now ubiquitous around the world, Apple is taking advantage of new advances in facial recognition and allowing customers to unlock their iPhones without revealing their nose and mouth.
However, there is a catch. The feature only works when users also own and wear an Apple Watch.
Apple says, “With the Apple Watch on their wrist, unlocked and in close proximity to the iPhone, users can just glance at their iPhone and they will receive haptic feedback from Apple Watch, indicating that their iPhone has been unlocked. ”
The new feature works with iPhone X and later and Apple Watch Series 3 and later.