Prior to this announcement, Apple’s randomly assigned IDFA and its Android counterpart, Google Advertiser Identification (GAID), were the basis of many user tracking and ad targeting technologies.
Responses & Rumors
In the ensuing months since Apple’s announcement, a lot of attention has been paid to the ripple effects of Apple’s decision and the mounting tension between some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies.
Facebook’s Audience Network, which relies on IDFA to serve up personalized ads in third-party mobile apps, expects developer revenue to drop as much as 50 percent. In August, Facebook confirmed that they would comply with the IDFA policy change in apps on iOS 14 devices, but also publicly condemned Apple for forcing them to reevaluate the viability of the product. In a blog post outlining the change, they revealed that Apple’s policy change could “render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.”
More recently, Apple and Google announced yet another ban preventing developers from using the location tracking SDK known as X-Mode Social. This new development, coupled with the drama of previous months, has given rise to further speculation that Apple will completely ban certain “free” analytics SDKs such as Facebook Analytics, Firebase, and Flurry Analytics.
Although the SDKs are free for app developers to use, the companies that provide these SDKs leverage data collected by the SDKs as a way to track users and improve the personalization of their advertising products.
Implications & More Speculation
It’s inevitable that Apple will continue to take technical and policy measures to prevent user tracking across apps from SDKs like Firebase, Flurry, and the Facebook Analytics SDK. However, these measures don’t impact other SDKs without an advertising component — and that’s not likely to change.
Companies that provide free SDKs that previously tracked users by their IDFA are already making updates to remove tracking and ensure compliance with Apple’s new policy. But these modifications also mean that these companies' main motivations for providing a free SDK — namely, to track users — will also disappear. Although rumors that Apple will completely ban these SDKs are unlikely to come to fruition, it raises questions about whether popular SDKs such as Firebase and Flurry Analytics will continue to be supported and offered for free after their user tracking features are removed.
What do Apple’s policy changes mean for OneSignal?
Like Apple, we’re committed to giving you more control and empowering both developers and end users to make informed decisions. OneSignal offers a free product to demonstrate the value of our service, and not to track users like some other free SDKs. We also offer paid plans to support companies at every growth stage.
To make sure you’re up to speed with Apple’s latest app privacy requirements, check out our compliance resources here.