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What is app tracking transparency for iOS & how do I stay compliant?

TL;DR: In response to calls for a more transparent digital ecosystem where users have more control over how their data is collected and shared, Apple introduced the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework in April 2021 for apps running on iOS 14.5 and later. Read on to learn what App Tracking Transparency is and how you can stay compliant when building and publishing iOS apps.

With users spending more and more time shopping, socializing and utilizing services online, the issue of data privacy has become a pressing issue in recent years. Tech companies have been under increasing pressure to make improvements to consumer privacy, including transparency around data collection and tracking of users across websites and apps.

While such tracking can lead to convenient, personalized experiences online, it can also be used to track behavior in a way that many users may not be comfortable with. That's why Apple launched App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in April 2021 for apps running on iOS 14.5 and beyond. Let's break down what ATT is, and how you can keep your app compliant for iOS.

An iPhone displaying a prompt asking user to allow "Pal About" to track activities

What is Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework?

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency is a technical and legal framework focused on improving user privacy.

Under the framework, all new apps running on iOS 14.5 and higher must allow users to manually and explicitly opt-in to tracking. As an app publisher you must provide a rationale for tracking users and request their consent before doing so.

If the user denies your request to track them then you must not perform any tracking actions within your app, including via your website when it is being accessed through your app.

Have more questions? Apple addresses a number of frequently asked questions about ATT on their User Data and Privacy page.

What activity qualifies as tracking to Apple?

Apple defines tracking as “the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes.” Some examples of this include:

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in your app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies.
  • Sharing device location data or email lists with a data broker.
  • Sharing a list of emails, advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to re-target those users in other developers’ apps or to find similar users.
  • Placing a third-party SDK in your app that combines user data from your app with user data from other developers’ apps to target advertising or measure advertising efficiency, even if you don’t use the SDK for these purposes.

Important: Planning on using Median to convert your existing website to a native app? It's important to note that any tracking performed via your website while it is being shown within your Median app should be treated the same way as any native functionality in your app. Under Apple’s ATT framework, app publishers are responsible for all the code included in their app, including any integrated third-party SDKs.

What activity doesn’t qualify as tracking to Apple?

Under ATT, any tracking that happens exclusively within your app is acceptable, provided that the data is not is not linked to user data recorded in your website or across any other app. Also, Apple does not consider it tracking when:

  • User or device data from your app is linked to third-party data solely on the user’s device and is not sent off the device in any way
  • The data broker with whom you share data uses the data solely for fraud detection, fraud prevention, or security purposes.
  • The data broker is a consumer reporting agency and the data is shared with them for purposes of: Reporting on a consumer’s creditworthiness OR obtaining information on a consumer’s creditworthiness for the specific purpose of making a credit determination.

Implementing App Tracking Transparency is easier with Median

When you build a native app with Median, we make it easy to configure your app to utilize Apple's AppTrackingTransparency Framework and remain compliant:

  • You can include a custom usage description to provide your users with the reason you need to track. Tailoring this message will help increase the chances of users providing consent. 
  • If a custom description is not provided your app will display this message: “Your data will be used to personalize your experience and at times to deliver personalized ads
  • You can display Apple’s consent prompt automatically when your app first loads, or you can call a JavaScript Bridge function to display the prompt in the context of when you need to start tracking
  • Learn more about configuring ATT within your app in our documentation.

Implement ATT, stay compliant and publish successfully with Median

Ensuring ATT is implemented properly on your app is an essential step to getting your native app approved and published on the Apple App Store.

If you are looking for more guidance on ATT or any other component of configuring your app, consider Median’s Full-Service App Configuration Service. Our experienced team will help you configure a stunning, immersive native app that meets all of your requirements and is ready to publish.

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*DISCLAIMER: This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not exhaustive and may not be relevant for your requirements. While we have obtained and compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. This content is not to be considered professional advice and does not form a professional relationship of any kind between you and LLC or its affiliates. is the industry-leading end-to-end solution for developing, publishing, and maintaining native mobile apps for iOS and Android powered by web content. When considering any technology vendor we recommend that you conduct detailed research and “read the fine print” before using their services.*
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