Apple will release iOS 15 – which comes with a bunch of new privacy features – on Monday, September 20.
News of the release date dropped on Tuesday without much fanfare, the same day as Apple’s virtual event, where company executives fawned over the new Apple Plus TV lineup and extolled the virtues of the iPhone 13, its pro version companion, faster chips, longer-lasting batteries and other shiny bits of hardware.
But the imminent release of iOS 15 is a big deal for the developers and advertisers still busy getting a handle on the privacy changes that came along with iOS 14.5.
“IOS 15 is certainly going to rock the boat for marketers across the world if they are unprepared,” said Will Crocker Hay, VP of customer and partner marketing at Braze.
But the release of iOS 15 is a good opportunity for marketers to check back in with their customers and get a sense of updated privacy preferences.
“Marketers need to ensure that they're only requesting absolutely necessary permissions and communicating with transparency around how they're going to use those permissions to enhance the user’s experience and maintain trust,” Hay said.
As a quick refresher, the iOS 15 privacy features were first teased at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
They include Mail Privacy Protection, which stops email senders from using pixels to collect user information; the automatic obfuscation of IP addresses on Safari as part of Intelligent Tracking Prevention; and Private Relay, a new service as part of iCloud that masks Safari traffic so that other companies can’t capture IP addresses, browsing history, location or other data to be used in a profile.
There was some debate at the time of the original June WWDC announcement as to whether Private Relay would be on or off by default. For now, it appears that iCloud Private Relay will not be on by default, but rather “released as a public beta to gather additional feedback and improve website compatibility,” according to Apple developer notes.
Apparently, when iOS 15 beta testers had Private Relay enabled, some websites were having issues, such as showing content for the wrong region.
Apple will iron those wrinkles out in due course. The specific nuances of the Private Relay rollout aren’t that big a deal.
More important is the fact that Apple’s moves and general approach to privacy, data collection and data sharing reflect systemic changes that aim to eradicate the status quo.
“As a marketer,” said Jonathan Harrop, VP of global marketing at AdColony, “I’m less concerned with the immediate changes, which are very ‘visible’ in terms of most users understanding their privacy benefits – as opposed to AppTrackingTransparency – than I am for the overall direction of Apple’s privacy initiatives, which seem like the eventual total obfuscation of device-level identity as the standard.”
Even Apple’s owned-and-operated apps will start asking for tracking permission beginning with iOS 15. In early September, beta testers of the new iOS noticed a pop-up within Apple’s News, Stock and App Store apps requesting permission to enable personalized advertising.
Previously, personalization and targeting were on by default for Apple’s own ad network.
Starting Monday with the public launch, anyone with an iPhone 6S generation and later will have the option to update to iOS 15 as a free download. The new iPhone 13 will automatically run iOS 15.