What's Up With Apple: Ad Tracking, Augmented Reality Patent and More

When Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) released its App Tracking Transparency feature earlier this year, a lot of analysts were asking how much the change would cost sites like Twitter, Snap and Facebook, which were no longer able to track people’s movements around the web. Based on earnings reports from Snap and Twitter released after markets closed Thursday evening, the answer is Apple’s App Tracking feature didn’t cost them a dime. In fact, both companies reported huge increases in revenue and offered third-quarter estimates that were higher than analysts had forecast.

In one sense, ad revenues for Snap and Twitter rose because, even without tracking, these sites attract hundreds of millions of daily users. Advertisers really have no choice but to put their dollars into advertising where the eyeballs are: Snap, Twitter and, most likely, Facebook, which reports its second-quarter results next Wednesday.

One caveat though. On the company’s conference call, Snap’s chief business officer, Jeremi Gorman, said that iPhone users are “taking their time” adopting the ad tracking update: “This has given us more time with advertisers to navigate the transition but also means the effects of these changes will come later than we initially expected.” Perhaps, but at least two-thirds of iPhone users (and maybe as many as three-quarters) are not giving apps permission to track them.

Now that HBO has shut down its Apple TV channel, Apple has offered to issue refunds or credits to subscribers for the unused portion of their subscription period. HBO stopped selling new subscriptions to the channel back in May, but it grandfathered existing subscribers. Until Thursday.

AT&T, which owns HBO, wants people to subscribe to its HBO Max streaming package. According to AppleInsider, Apple TV subscribers affected by the shutdown can use the credit to purchase HBO Max for three months at a discounted monthly rate of $9.99. The offer expires on September 5.

In January, Apple filed a patent application for “automatic measurements based on object classification.” AppleInsider has the details, which are more than a little arcane, and a link to the full patent application, but the simple story is that Apple plans to use the lidar capabilities it has added to iPhone 12 cameras to automatically detect a real-world object’s size just by pointing the camera at it.

Apple released its Measure app with iOS 12 in 2018. The app uses augmented reality (AR) to simulate a tape measure. It is a bit tricky to use, but it is nonetheless slick. By going full AR, as the patent application outlines, measuring an object would be as simple as taking its photo.