What You Need to Know About Apple’s Privacy Update

a cat peering at an apple mac laptop what are the privacy settings

Apple Data Privacy: Improvements to ATT

Apple has long made user privacy part of its brand ethic. In the past year, the company has touted App Tracking Transparency (ATT) as a symbol for this ethos.

Apple first launched ATT with iOS 14.5. This program requires apps to explicitly ask each user’s permission to track them. Without the user’s overt consent, an app cannot track an iOS user across other apps and websites.

Now, Apple’s iOS 15 update takes ATT to the next level. Reviewers note the update gives users a new privacy dashboard.

This display clearly lays out each permission the user has granted to every app. It also tells users which access rights they’ve granted to different apps.

For example, it’s clear which apps have access to a user’s camera or address book. This is a win for security.

Pivotally, Apple’s new ATT dashboard lets users change permissions instantly. It also lets you delete an app in one click.

iCloud+ and App Privacy Report

Apple’s ATT upgrade has garnered media attention. Yet, that’s not the only Apple data and privacy change to watch out for.

The company’s slew of OS updates jumpstarts several new privacy features. Two noteworthy additions are:

  • App Privacy Report
  • iCloud+ Enhanced Privacy Suite

iCloud+ offers some complex features. The App Privacy Report is more straightforward.

App Privacy Report

The OS periodically generates a report about the apps on a user’s device.

It tells the user how often each app has used any permission the user granted it. So, the report tells a user how often an app accessed their microphone, for example.

iCloud+ Updates

Apple will upgrade all iCloud subscribers to iCloud+ this autumn. This storage service grants users three premium privacy features.

Private Relay

The first is Private Relay. Private Relay is essentially a virtual private network (VPN).

Like most VPNs, Private Relay encrypts the user’s data and obscures the user’s location. Unlike most VPNs, Private Relay protects users from fingerprinting.

Specifically, companies (and more nefarious actors) can’t fingerprint a Private Relay user. Nor can they fingerprint the user’s device. This prevents companies from using that fingerprint for targeted marketing.

Hide My Email

The next iCloud+ premium privacy feature is Hide My Email. It lets users generate random, unrepeated email addresses. Then, the user can forward emails sent to this address to their personal account.

Many users don’t want to disclose their personal email address widely. Hide My Email lets users avoid disclosure risks. At the same time, they can still receive the emails they want.

Hide My Email empowers users to create and delete as many addresses as they need. Apple does not impose quantity or time limits.

This feature appeals to users who want precise control over who can and can’t contact them. This can be lifesaving for a person evading a stalker or a domestic violence survivor.

HomeKit Video Support

Finally, iCloud+ features enhanced HomeKit Video support. HomeKit Video is Apple’s cloud storage system for security camera footage.

Home security camera footage can be sensitive and private. So, Apple lets HomeKit Video users encrypt their footage completely on the HomeKit Hub. This is a local, non-networked device.

Then, users store these encrypted files in the iCloud. This way, only the user can see their videos. To all other entities, including Apple, the files are unreadable.

This end-to-end encryption heartens users’ trust in Apple’s privacy ethos. iCloud is the only fully encrypted cloud storage system on the popular market.

Marketing Takeaway: Ethics Build Trust

Apple’s privacy-centered ethos has earned its customers’ trust and loyalty. When it seemed to break that trust with the phone-scanning technology, it stumbled.

Centering its ethics keeps Apple on the right track. Transparency is ethical. And relevance is ethical.

Apple’s Hide My Mail feature shows us people genuinely want to read relevant emails. People trust companies to promote things they like. They don’t need to trust brands with their personal data to do that.

Another takeaway? First-party data beats snooping.

The tracking measures people want to avoid (fingerprinting, being chased from app to app) don’t help anyone. It’s far better to learn about your customer as you build a relationship with them over time.

iOS 15 Apple Mail Privacy Changes

Finally, iOS 15 brings changes to Apple Mail. Earlier this year, Ars Technica discovered 96% of Apple users opted for increased privacy protections.

Now, these customers can take on greater Apple privacy protections. But, what exactly will change?

Apple Limits Email Data Collection

When Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection launches, email marketers can no longer use tracking pixels.

Tracking pixels are a third-party data collection tool.  A marketer might embed a tracking pixel into an email. The pixel would then relay information back to the sender.

A tracking pixel could tell the sender if or when someone opened an email. It could note whether the email loaded completely. Some pixels could even learn what device the recipient used to open the email.

But most people dislike third-party data collection. You often have no relationship with the collectors, though their beacon may “stalk” you online.

Leaders in the field have proposed alternatives since 2018. With this update, Apple puts the final nail in the third-party data coffin.

Pixel Trackers Won’t Work

Apple doesn’t prohibit pixel trackers. Instead, new Mail Privacy Protection functions render them useless.

With this update, Apple Mail pre-loads a user’s email content. This includes images and pixel trackers. When this happens, the pixel tracker still gives data to the sender.

But, the pixel’s data is off. It will be about the automatic load, not about anything your intended recipient did.

Ultimately, if you use open rates as a metric and use pixels to learn those rates, you’ll need to change your tactics.

What Should Email Marketers Do?

The good news is, Apple’s new privacy updates don’t interfere with the best marketing strategies. The best response? Try something new.

Adopt Better Email Marketing Metrics

Open rates and individual user data are off the table. But that’s okay! Start tracking metrics more relevant to your bottom line. Consider:

  • Email list growth rate – how fast are people signing up?
  • Clicks and Engagement- how many people are clicking on your email links?
  • Conversion rate – how many readers answer your call to action?
  • Unsubscribes- are you keeping people on your list or are they leaving and why?

These metrics track your campaign’s growth. They also let your client relationships mark your brand’s growth.

Take a page from Apple’s book. To build your brand, cultivate trust.

Automate With Different Triggers

It’s smart to personalize a campaign. It makes sense to set up automated responses to a customer’s action.

When a recipient opens an email, that action triggers another email. The second email might expand on the first or offer a coupon.

This is still a good strategy. Just choose a different trigger.

You can automatically send an email after a certain period of time. Or, send responses to people who engage more deeply with your content. Don’t let the lack of trackers trip you up.

Improve Subject Lines and Content

Ultimately, email marketing works when people open your emails. People keep opening your emails because they like what you’ve sent before.

Improving subjects and content takes practice. Read, take an online class, and ask marketers you respect to read your concepts.

Outsource to Marketing Experts

Stay ahead of curveballs with H2H. OS changes can throw anyone for a loop. Our marketing consultants are ready for anything.

Whether it’s Apple’s Privacy Update or international events, H2H handles it. Are you stuck on a marketing conundrum? Let’s talk.