It’s no secret that companies large and small create apps for use on the iPhone that are designed at least in part to track and monitor users.
A wide range of organizations would like to know not just who you are but where you like to spend time along with details about your habits, wants, and desires. The more information they have, the easier it is to predict future behavior and provide you with products or services that you may be interested in.
For example, you think you’re using a simple weather forecasting app. But the software might be doing more than just showing you the local pollen count or whether it might rain tomorrow in your county.
An app can use your iPhone’s location services to know where you live and work as well as where you spend time when not at those two places. That could be valuable information to local marketers.
Some App Developers can justify the cost of developing an app that advises users about whether they need to take an umbrella with them in the morning if you can recoup with advertising dollars from the app thanks to all of the user data being collected.
There certainly are times you will want apps requesting access to your location data. For instance, a map application uses the information to help you navigate as you walk or drive.
Or, you use a store’s app to order items for pickup from home. Later, the store can tell from your live GPS data when you have reached its parking lot. That makes it more convenient for an employee to bring bags of purchases directly to the vehicle with minimal wait time for you.
A photography app can make it convenient for you to automatically label your pictures with their locations, when it records the exact latitude and longitude of where a photo was taken.
But you have less control over your privacy when companies use this data to show you targeted ads based on your behavior, interests, and location. Something you may, or may not, want all the time.
Apple’s Pop-up Messages Come to the Rescue
A new privacy feature in version 14 of the iOS operating system will generate pop-up messages that force companies to ask your permission first before tracking you.
Apple has not made a formal announcement about the upcoming feature. However, some users are already starting to see such prompts on their iPhone, such as when using the NBA app for basketball fans. One person reported seeing a pop-up saying the NBA asked permission to track the user across apps from other companies and websites.
Apple’s Tracking Pop-up Update will soon be a useful tool to help you get more control over what information you share with App Developers.