How to use the iOS app tracking blocker

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Privacy is on everyone’s mind these days. Last spring, iOS 14.5 introduced a new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency that may have made its users happier but did not endear Apple to some other companies — specifically Facebook. The feature is still available in iOS 15, along with some new privacy features. Many apps don’t just track your movements inside the app, but they track your movements outside of the app — in other words, where you go after you’ve left the app. This is why you see ads in Facebook and other apps for products you were just looking at on Amazon or other sites. Before 14.5, you could turn tracking off for all of your apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and turning off “Allow Apps to Request to Track.” The version that first appeared in iOS 14.5 allows you to be more specific. To begin, when you install a new app, you don’t have to do anything; you are automatically asked whether you want the new app to track you. New apps must ask permission to track you in order to personalize their ads. It’s up to you now whether to allow each app to track you. If you want to see which apps have asked for permission to track and possibly change their tracking settings, you can just go to that same Tracking page. There, you will be able to give or revoke that permission. So: Go to your iPhone’s settings and select Privacy > Tracking. Beneath “Allow Apps to Request to Track,” you’ll now see a list of specific apps that have asked for that permission. You can permit or revoke that permission for each specific app. Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking to change the settings for specific or all apps. And you can still use “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to turn off permission for all of your current (and future) apps. (Note: At first, the App Tracking Transparency feature seemed to be misbehaving for some people; it either didn’t respond, or the toggle in Tracking was grayed out. On May 3rd, Apple issued update 14.5.1, which was supposed to fix the problem. According to 9to5Mac, the fix hasn’t worked for some people; however, at least one staffer at The Verge reported that his toggle was no longer grayed out. There have been no such problems reported recently.) Update April 27th, 9:20AM ET: This article has been updated to add a note about problems with the new feature. Update May 10th, 2:50PM ET: The note about issues with the new feature has been updated. Update October 13th, 5:20PM ET: This article has been updated to acknowledge that iOS 15 has shipped.

How to use the iOS app tracking blocker
The iPhone 12 mini feels very comfortable to hold.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Privacy is on everyone’s mind these days. Last spring, iOS 14.5 introduced a new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency that may have made its users happier but did not endear Apple to some other companies — specifically Facebook. The feature is still available in iOS 15, along with some new privacy features.

Many apps don’t just track your movements inside the app, but they track your movements outside of the app — in other words, where you go after you’ve left the app. This is why you see ads in Facebook and other apps for products you were just looking at on Amazon or other sites.

Before 14.5, you could turn tracking off for all of your apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and turning off “Allow Apps to Request to Track.” The version that first appeared in iOS 14.5 allows you to be more specific. To begin, when you install a new app, you don’t have to do anything; you are automatically asked whether you want the new app to track you.

New apps must ask permission to track you in order to personalize their ads.
New apps must ask permission to track you in order to personalize their ads.
It’s up to you now whether to allow each app to track you or not.
It’s up to you now whether to allow each app to track you.

If you want to see which apps have asked for permission to track and possibly change their tracking settings, you can just go to that same Tracking page. There, you will be able to give or revoke that permission. So:

  • Go to your iPhone’s settings and select Privacy > Tracking.
  • Beneath “Allow Apps to Request to Track,” you’ll now see a list of specific apps that have asked for that permission. You can permit or revoke that permission for each specific app.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking to change the settings for specific or all apps.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking to change the settings for specific or all apps.

And you can still use “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to turn off permission for all of your current (and future) apps.

(Note: At first, the App Tracking Transparency feature seemed to be misbehaving for some people; it either didn’t respond, or the toggle in Tracking was grayed out. On May 3rd, Apple issued update 14.5.1, which was supposed to fix the problem. According to 9to5Mac, the fix hasn’t worked for some people; however, at least one staffer at The Verge reported that his toggle was no longer grayed out. There have been no such problems reported recently.)

Update April 27th, 9:20AM ET: This article has been updated to add a note about problems with the new feature.

Update May 10th, 2:50PM ET: The note about issues with the new feature has been updated.

Update October 13th, 5:20PM ET: This article has been updated to acknowledge that iOS 15 has shipped.