Apple wants to help you stop advertisers tracking your internet activity

Safari Privacy Report
(Image credit: Apple)
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Apple is bringing greater privacy protection to iOS and macOS at this year's WWDC (opens in new tab) conference with new features in the Mail app and Safari designed to make it harder for advertisers to track its users online.

Invisible pixels (opens in new tab) are often used in many email clients (opens in new tab) to let advertisers know when a user opened an email and  their IP address which can be used to determine their location. Now though in Apple's Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect information on users.

For several years now, Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (opens in new tab) feature has helped protect users from unwanted tracking by using on-device machine learning to stop trackers while still allowing websites to function normally. 

At WWDC 2021, Apple announced that this feature is getting even stronger by also adding the ability to hide a user's IP address (opens in new tab) from trackers. This means that advertisers or other third parties won't be able to utilize a user's IP address as a unique identifier to connect their activity across websites in order to build a profile about them.

App Privacy Report

Last year Apple added a new feature to its browser called Safari Privacy Report (opens in new tab) that prevented trackers from following users across the web. Now the company has expanded this idea to include all of the apps installed on your iOS or iPadOS devices with App Privacy Report.

App Privacy Report allows Apple users to see how often each app has used the permissions granted to it to access their location, photos, camera, microphone and contacts over the course of the past seven days. Users can check whether the report makes sense to them and take action by going to the app in Settings if it doesn't or uninstalling a suspicious app all together.

However, one of the most interesting things about Apple's new App Privacy Report is that it also shows you all of the third-party domains (opens in new tab) an app is contacting. This means that you'll quickly be able to see if an app is sending your data to other websites.

Chief analyst at CSS Insight Ben Wood provided further insight on Apple's new privacy protections in a statement to TechRadar Pro, saying:

“Apple’s tightening of privacy options for users is the defining theme for this year’s WWDC and will cause further consternation among those companies’ dependent on user data for tracking, advertising and monetisation. Hiding information such as IP addresses, location and whether users have opened or read emails could severely limit the way many companies track and monetise users but will be welcomed by consumers who are becoming increasingly aware of how much data is being captured. It will further Apple’s position as being a consumer champion when it comes to privacy.”

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.