Apple may be tracking the App Store activities of iPhone users


Apple updated its privacy policy to stop third-party apps from tracking the activities of iPhone users. Now, the Cupertino-based tech giant itself is allegedly tracking user activities in the App Store. If this rumour turns out to be true this can turn out to be a major deviation by the company from its ideals and principles regarding user privacy.
How Apple is tracking iPhone user’s App Store behaviour
According to a report by 9to5Mac, two researchers have recently discovered that iOS is sending Apple a detailed log of how iPhone users interact with the App Store. The report sent by iOS includes specific user behaviour like the places that are being tapped while interacting with the app store and more. The report also mentioned that iOS is delivering the data to Apple “in real-time via a JSON file.”

As per the report, the newly discovered tracking feature seems to be connected to the new ad placements that Apple has recently introduced to its mobile app repository. Some developers also believe that the tech giant is tracking users’ activities within the App Store since the release of iOS 14.6 in May 2021, the report adds. It is also important to note that Apple introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature with iOS 14.5.
The report couldn’t explain how the company is using this data but notes that Apple is still tracking users who browse the App Store. Apple may claim that the collected data is not shared with third parties and this change has affected ad platforms from Google and Meta by making it harder to track iOS users. Apple seemed to collect App Store data even when the Personalised Ads option is turned off, the report notes.
Apple’s introduction of ads on the App Store
Apple recently introduced new ad placements to the App Store which enable developers to promote their apps on app pages and in the main Today tab by paying the company. Before this, the company only allowed developers to show their apps in the Search section of the App Store. Moreover, Apple now also lets developers access some statistics about their ads performance and the company’s App Store data collection might be related to this.

Several users even criticised Apple for showing “irrelevant or ethically questionable content” like casino and dating apps soon after the company made the new ad placements available on App Store. Apple has temporarily suspended ads for these apps and it is unknown when the company will come up with a permanent solution for such advertisements.




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