Here’s Exactly What You Need to Know About Apple’s App Tracking Transparency

iOS 14.5 brings big privacy changes and a lot of questions

Lance Ulanoff
Published in
4 min readApr 26, 2021


Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash

There’s a new privacy sheriff in town. His name is ATT and he rode in Monday on a horse named iOS 14.5. He likes apps just fine but not ones that pick your pockets for bits and pieces of data debris that he can share with his posse.

I don’t think it’s stretching the analogy too far to say that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy for app developers is one of the most talked-about and potentially feared updates since Wyatt Earp strolled into Tombstone.

Now that it’s here, though, I’m astounded at all the misinformation and confusion surrounding this relatively straightforward concept.

In the space of two hours, I had one person ask me to talk about “Apple’s new requirement that app developers collect consumer data,” and someone else on Twitter wonder if it was up to app developers whether to comply with Apple’s new rules. Others wondered if app developers could acknowledge you opting out of their data collection schemes and then grab your data anyway.

Apple spells out the rules quite clearly in their iOS 14.5 documentation, which, even though you will certainly install the iPhone (and iPad) update sometime within the next few weeks, you may never read.

Hidden under iOS Settings/Privacy/Tracking is the new switch “Allow Apps to Request to Track,” under which it says, “Allow apps to ask to track your activities across other companies’ apps and web sites.”

I understand that language might throw you: “I’m allowing companies to ask me to allow them to ask me about collecting my data?”

Right, but if you turn it off, your new options are also a tad fuzzy:

“Allow Apps to Continue Tracking” (trust me, you already have dozens of installed apps that have been doing this data sucking and sharing for years)


“Ask Apps to Stop Tracking”

This second choice instantly turns off the tracking permissions you previously offered to apps (in my case, I only showed three doing it) and then sets up that ATT roadblock, which will force…



Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.