The company said on Wednesday US time that the notifications would be compulsory when iOS 14.5 is released. No exact date has yet been given for the release of this update of the operating system, Reuters reported.
On its user privacy features page, Apple added this note [screenshot below, right] : "A new app tracking section in Settings lets you easily see which of your apps have been given permission to track you, so you can change your preferences and disable apps from asking in the future.
"Starting in early 2021, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 or later will require developers to get your permission before tracking your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or data brokers."
Ahead of this change, Apple has said it will provide developers with other tools. One allows advertisers who run app installation ads to see how many users installed an app after an ad campaign, but will not provide information on individual users.
A second, called private-click management, allows advertisers to become aware when a user clicks on an ad inside an app and is directed to a website, but again does not show any data about individual users.
Apple has also added other features geared towards user privacy. One, called approximate location, is described in this way: "With iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and watchOS 7, you can choose whether apps can see your approximate location — within an area of about 26 square kilometres — rather than your exact location. So you can use apps to find nearby restaurants or check the local weather without providing more information than you need to."
And there is a privacy-related change to photo-sharing as well: "If an app requests access to your photos, you can choose which images you’d like to share without granting access to your entire library. Or if an app wants to add a photo to your library, you can allow it to do so without accessing your photos. You can also choose to grant an app general access to your photos."
But Apple has not yet done anything about a key privacy feature which it promised to implement in 2018. At that time, chief executive Tim Cook told Germany's Der Spiegel that his company would stop keeping copies of user's keys for iCloud back-ups, and thus make it impossible for the company to gain access to backed-up user data.