Built on the changes first announced in Apple’s iOS 14 last year, as well as iOS 14.5 with the roll out of App Tracking Transparency (ATT), Apple’s newest release of iOS 15 provides even more privacy and transparency for app users. From new location permission changes to the removal of email tracking, Apple has made it no secret their goal is to improve both the app experience and data privacy by extending those user-first ideals with iOS 15.

So what are the implications for marketers, developers, and end users in iOS 15? How might Apple’s new operating system impact location intelligence and data collection for ad targeting purposes? Let’s dive into the details.

Share My Location

With low adoption rates for the ‘Allow Once’ permission, Apple introduced a ‘Share My Location’ button as a replacement. Similar to ‘Allow Once,’ this button will prompt users to share their location just for that individual session. This button is customizable so brands can stylize it however they wish. Gimbal sees this as a positive direction for location sharing and enables brands to create dynamic, location-driven experiences that provide value to their app users.

App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Prompt

In iOS 14.5, ATT required developers to disclose their privacy practices within the App Store while simultaneously allowing users to opt in or out of data sharing (via their IDFA) on a per-app basis. In iOS 15, the privacy dashboard shows the permissions users have given to apps, such as location or the camera, and how many times they have accessed these features. Additionally, Apple reinforced its stance that fingerprinting – using various data points such as email, phone number, IP, etc. to attribute to a single user – will be disallowed, noting severe penalties for those that don’t comply. 

Companies have been looking for ways around asking users for their permission to be tracked across apps and sites for some time now, and Apple is cracking down. This also highlights the importance of first-party data. Gimbal has always had a strong stance around end-user privacy and advising our clients on how best to approach data rights continues to remain one of our top priorities. 

Other Privacy Related Features

iPhone users will feel even more secure about their data with features like Private Relay, Record App Activity, and Hide My Email. 

  • Private Relay will obfuscate IP addresses through a series of proxy servers that are shared between users in a given area. This will ensure that brands can’t get around ATT prompts by reducing the accuracy of IP addresses for fingerprinting individual users.
  • Record App Activity will list all services that are used by any app installed, including a list of domains that were actively used by those apps (including timestamps of when these events happened). Ultimately, bad actors that are needlessly trying to access remote services are going to pay the penalty of uninstalls as users become more aware of each app’s actions.
  • Hide My Email will allow users to hide their real email addresses when filling out forms in Safari or when downloading new apps. It’s essentially a burner email that enables more secure processes for individuals filling out basic personal information because again, privacy.

Nearby Interaction

Ultra Wideband (UWB) enables directional precision for new products like AirTags, but an important API change is coming out with iOS 15. Following the patterns of Location and Bluetooth permissions, Apple will introduce a persistent permission instead of the current, session-based permissions for Nearby Interaction. Whether it’s used for easier curbside handoffs, more accurate wayfinding, or enhancing operational efficiencies, developers can now implement practical use cases with UWB and expect scalable adoption. Gimbal will be announcing more around UWB in the coming months as it relates to our own platform.

When Apple first announced the advent of iOS 14, we released a guide that walks you through the implications and best practices that still remain relevant to app developers and marketers today.

If you have any questions around Apple’s iOS 15 updates, please contact your Gimbal representative.