iOS 14.5 ATT wording

So iOS 14.5 will finally get us App Tracking Transparency and we’ll see dialogs like this.

What’s with the wording for the choices? “Ask App not to Track” sounds much less binding than “Deny Tracking”. I can’t imagine this wasn’t a deliberate choice after much haggling over the exact wording. So what is Apple telling us by using wording that suggests that although we can kindly ask the app, the app could then also choose to refuse to comply?


I suspect it’s because Apple is walking a dangerous and slippery tightrope here, especially with Facebook, Google, Epic, etc. continuing to threaten to drag them into court and continuing mega PR battles over Apple’s privacy features. The EU continuing to throw shade in Apple’s face doesn’t help either. Apple is just trying to be polite like my mom always told me to be.

“Deny” would be too strong of a word. There may be methods of tracking that this does not prevent, so the wording is appropriate. You’re asking the app not to track you, but that doesn’t mean it won’t track you via some other method.


Apple has a little white paper about this.

At the end is a little FAQ with this Q/A:

Can Apple guarantee that an app isn’t tracking me if I select “Ask App not to Track”?

If you select “Ask App not to Track,” the developer will not be able to access the identifier for advertisers (IDFA), which is often used to track. The app developer is also required to respect your choice beyond the advertising identifier. This is required by the policies the developer agrees to when submitting their app for distribution on the App Store — if we learn that a developer is tracking users who ask not to be tracked, we will require that they update their practices to respect your choice, or their app may be rejected from the App Store.


Interesting wording again. “may be rejected”? So if I say don’t track, the app nevertheless chooses to track me, Apple learns about it and tells the dev to respect my choice, but the developer then chooses to ignore them, Apple is not committing to banning that app? Hope that’s just CYA and not intentionally leaving Apple wiggle room to treat devs or cases differently.

My guess is that Apple would treat this somewhat like they treated Epic and Parler. Tim Cook said in the Kara Swisher “Sway” interview that they worked with Parler for some time to get content moderation implemented before they it became clear that Parler wasn’t able to comply and they banned the app. I suspect that it was similar with Epic and the alternate App Store (though I imagine that contact was more “remove this capability immediately or we will ban you.”)


Apple has begun aggressively removing apps that are violating the new rules:

And more grief for Google over ad identifiers: