What's Up With Apple: 96% of iPhones Block Tracking, and More

It appears that the new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature is really popular with iPhone and iPad owners. A mere 4% of U.S. iPhone active users have chosen to allow apps to track them around the web. The remaining 96% have chosen just to say no to ad tracking.

Since the launch of iOS 14.5 two weeks ago, mobile analytics firm Flurry has been collecting data daily on the choices iPhone owners are making about whether to allow apps to use Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) to track users for targeted advertising purposes. Flurry is a mobile analytics company that Verizon acquired when it bought Yahoo and that the phone company earlier this week agreed to sell to Apollo.

Worldwide, the percentage of iPhone users who have opted to let apps track them has been hovering around 11%. Flurry also tracks the opt-in rate for those users that apps cannot ask to track (so-called restricted users). According to Apple’s developer website, “on restricted devices, the Allow Apps To Request To Track setting is disabled and cannot be changed.” About 3% of U.S. iPhone owners and 5% of worldwide owners have restricted app tracking.

Apple has awarded $410 million to a Pittsburgh-based laser technology company that Apple uses to power FaceID and other iPhone features, along with the lidar scanner Apple introduced with the iPhone 12. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted out the announcement.

The courtroom fight between Apple and Epic Games is causing a bit of collateral damage. During testimony from App Store vice-president Matt Fischer, Apple was forced to share an internal email confirming that the company does not treat all app developers equally. In a 2018 email, Fischer was informed that certain app developers had been whitelisted and had access to a toolkit allowing them to substitute their own payment system for Apple’s in-app system. When Epic Games sought similar status, the company’s request was rejected.

Finally, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday released a report on what is known as the “right to repair.” The idea is that consumers should be given enough information to repair the stuff they buy without having to send the product back to the manufacturer or to an authorized repair shop.

The FTC’s report, titled “Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions,” is certain to get a lot of pushback from companies like Apple that have tightly controlled product repair procedures and require repair shops to receive special training.

In March, Apple announced it was rolling out its independent repair service to include some 200 countries around the world. Clearly, the service is intended to give Apple some cover if Congress should decide to implement the FTC’s recommendations.