Beta Testing iOS 15 and iCloud+ Private Relay

Josh Todd

Beta Testing Apple iOS 15 and iCloud+ Private Relay
Source: Apple

When Apple announced iOS 15 at WWDC in June, they stirred up quite the fervor with the latest privacy updates (a predictable pattern for the last couple of years). “No more IP address in Safari” seemed to be the big takeaway. Now that we’re getting closer to the September release of iOS 15, some of the details are becoming clearer. Using the iOS 15 public beta, I was able to test out some of these new capabilities. Here’s what I found. 

Safari Will Hide IP Addresses for “Trackers” Whether You Have iCloud+ or Not in iOS 15

In the settings for Safari, there are three options to hide your IP address: 

  • Trackers and Websites 
  • Trackers Only 
  • Off 

The default setting is “Trackers Only,” and this does not require a subscription to iCloud+ to use. If you choose “Trackers and Websites,” you’ll be prompted to subscribe to iCloud+ and enable Private Relay. Although it does not specify here what a tracker is, I can only assume it will use the same on-device machine learning algorithm employed by Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP) since 2017. 

There Are Two Settings for IP Address Location with Private Relay 

When iCloud+ Private Relay is active, there are two settings for IP Address location:  

  • Maintain General Location 
  • Use Country and Time Zone 

I believe the first option is meant to be more granular, and the second option is much broader. Unfortunately, these options were not fully operational in the beta test I ran. Even when I chose “Maintain General Location” (the default), Private Relay gave me an IP address in El Cajon, CA, which is quite far from my actual location in Seattle, WA. I fully expect this to change when iOS 15 is released. 

TUNE Postback Tracking Will Still Function Over Private Relay 

While I didn’t expect Private Relay to have any effect on our postback tracking, I tested it to make sure. I clicked a TUNE tracking link with Private Relay enabled, then triggered a conversion by visiting a confirmation page. The transaction ID was passed as normal, and the conversion fired.

Since server-side tracking doesn’t rely on a cookie or the user’s IP address, Private Relay should not cause any issues to your offers using postbacks.  

Messaging Around AppTrackingTransparency Continues to Be Frustrating 

Various wording in the tracking settings has changed with iOS 15, and it highlights the stark difference between Apple’s description of their own tracking practices versus the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) prompt for all other developers. 

iOS 15 Apple Ads prompt in AppTrackingTransparency versus developers prompt - example
An example of how Apple’s messaging around personalized ads differs between their own practices and those of external developers in iOS 15.

As you can see above, in Apple’s own prompt, they clearly frame personalized ads as a good thing. What’s more, they highlight the fact that opting out of personalized ads does not reduce the number of ads you receive. I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about ATT: the average consumer likely believes that opting out of tracking will reduce the number of ads. 

In the ATT prompt on the right, the difference is night and day. They put it on developers to mention anything about personalized ads (as DoorDash has done in this example) and use aggressive anti-tracking language that makes it sound very bad. 

The Only Constant Is Change 

In such a fast-moving industry, the only thing we can count on is that it will keep changing. Many businesses are caught in the crossfire between tech giants like Apple and their endless jockeying for position, so we’ll do our best to keep reporting on the changes and their impact on partner marketing. 

Questions or comments about iOS 15? Let us know in the comment section below or reach out to us at [email protected].  

Josh Todd

Josh Todd, TUNE's VP of Product, is an innovative product management leader with 12 years of experience in the partner marketing industry. Prior to TUNE, Josh ran an early mobile-focused affiliate network, wrote a marketing blog, and generated thousands of leads for advertisers via targeted media buys.

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