Data security and data privacy on mobile have been an ongoing concern for a huge number of users over the past few years as many apps seem to have taken a lot of liberties on the way data had been handled in the past – it did come as a surprise to many when Apple announced the change now live on iOS to provide more transparency by the different apps, particularly with the permissions they request and how this impacts the end user. But what are these changes, and could the have further impact on other marketplaces and the way we use our apps as a whole?
The change had been primarily aimed at removing the possibility for apps to sneak certain permissions past the end user, for the most part it had come down to user error simply accepting permissions without really understanding what it meant, but there had been apps that were assigning permissions without notifying the user too. The change for iOS had been to make any permissions needed or required much more transparent and to remove the possibility that any of these could slip by without notice – whilst the change did cause an impact for some as users reported that popular apps like WhatsApp had certain features no longer responsive because of the change – whilst the target has largely been for tracking features, through these permissions, it could also mean that the changes could impact further adjustments to the app store.
(Image from CNET.com)
This hasn’t been the only change seen, however, as the ongoing legal battle between Epic and Apple has ignited other hopes for change to the app store too, perhaps not directly aimed at privacy – an adjustment of the terms and conditions could mean that a wider number of app genres are able to find their way into the space, sites such as these may not have been able to find their way into the app marketplace through certain restrictions but may now have the opportunity to do so, with sweeping changes perhaps on the way across the board.
For now, the app tracking transparency is unique to Apple devices, but given the success already seen and the user response being so great, it’s expected that something similar may start to be seen across other app marketplaces like the Play Store eventually, and with privacy concerns being much higher than they have been before, the support will certainly only continue to grow when more users realises just how much data has been tracked, and how much can be avoided with such a small change moving forward. For some it’s also expected that this could become enforced further down the road too, removing the choice for greater protection.