Apple is tracking the app usage and internet searches of its users with a new tracking technology called Identifier for Advertisers (IFA or IDFA). This allows advertisers to track the activities of users of Apple devices running iOS 6. The programme is similar to an earlier iPhone function that tracked usage through Apple mobile device data via a Unique Device Identifier (UDID). However, the latter was disabled after launch and tracking remained inactive, at least until now.
Business Insider describes IFA as a unique random number that is assigned to an iPhone. Basically, as and when an app is opened or Internet activity registered, it calls for the generation of an ad. The website being browsed is connected to the ad server, which generates ads based on the nature of the websites being browsed. IFA functions much like Cookies on a PC web browser.
For those who value their privacy and do not wish to be disturbed by a deluge of advertisements, there is a trick to disable the tracking.
- Navigate to Settings on the iOS 6 device
- Scroll down and tap on General
- Then tap on About
- In that menu, scroll further down and tap on Advertising
- Tap on Limit Ad Tracking feature to turn it On
This should stop apps from transmitting usage data to advertising servers. There is also a second option to limit targeted ads and commercials from Apple's iAD network and this method can also work on devices running iOS 4 onwards.
To opt out of advertisements from Apple's network, access this link from the iOS device in question (while logged into the iTunes account). However, this will not stop the flow of ads. The only difference will be that these ads will not be specifically targeted, and Apple will not employ data harvested by the software, although the harvesting itself is likely to continue. Remember, finally, that this opting out option applies only to Apple's advertising services and not to ads from other advertisers.