iOS 14.5 Lets You Opt Out of App Tracking. But Should You?

In episode 159, David and Donna dig into all the new features of iOS 14.5 and weigh in on the hot debate—Apple now lets you block apps like Facebook and Google from tracking your activity across other sites and apps. Should you opt out?

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This episode was brought to you by Scosche. The Scosche BaseLynx Modular Charging System is a creative and fully customizable way to power your devices without having to use several separate chargers. Why end up with a tangle of cords and cables when you can select the exact number of chargers you want and connect them seamlessly into one attractive charging station? These modules can be arranged and rearranged as you see fit, and are certified safe for your devices.

Questions of the week:

Have you opted out of App Tracking since updating to iOS 14.5? Why or why not? Email podcast@iphonelife.com and let us know. 

Articles referred to in this episode:

Articles referred to in this episode:

Useful links:

Episode 159 Transcript:

- Hi, and welcome to the iPhone Life Podcast. I'm Donna Cleveland, editor in chief at iPhone Life.

- I'm David Averbach, CEO and publisher.

- Each episode, we bring to you the best apps, top tips, and great gear. And today we're gonna talk about iOS 14.5, the latest update from Apple that brings things like the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple watch so that your face mask doesn't get in the way and the ability to stop apps from tracking you across different apps and websites. So, there's a lot of features to talk about and we're gonna get a little bit into the debate of whether or not you should let apps track you. Stick around for that. And first, David has a message from our sponsor.

- So, today's sponsor is a company called Scosche, and they make really great iPhone accessories, particularly chargers. So, I'm going to tell you about two of their products. They're two of my favorites. The first one is called BaseLynx. And basically how it works is it's a dock that you keep on your nightstand. And what makes it unique from other similar docks is that it's, you can customize it. So, basically it's modular. And so how it works is you can buy individual pieces, and then put it together. So, for me, I have, on my nightstand, I have, as you might expect, I have a lot of Apple products, as does my partner. So, I have two Apple Watches, I have an iPhone, I have AirPods, I have a Kindle, I have an iPad. So, I've built out this little modular thing where I can store all of them on my nightstand. I can charge the wireless. It has wireless charging for your iPhone, it has the puck for your Apple Watch, and then it's got this really nice slot for other types of devices like Kindles. And so it's a really great product because you don't have to have that mess of cables and you can customize it. 'Cause what was happening to me before this was that I had like one charging area, one Qi wireless charging pad, and we were always fighting over it. So, now you can build it out so that you and your partner can have all your products and no messy cables. So, the company is Scosche. S-C-O-S-C-H-E. We'll link to in the show notes at iphonelife.com/podcast.

- I like that this product is also like a relationship saver. Like, "Stop fighting over cables and cords!" Yeah, no messy cables. Well, and can I tell you what is not a relationship saver? When you go to charge your iPhone and then you wake up the next morning and your iPhone was not on the charger because your partner swapped it out. That does a number on your relationship.

- Your like, "And that's why you need the BaseLynx." And the BaseLynx is really nice. Yeah.

- It also is stylish. It looks nice too. 'Cause if you're putting it on your nightstand, you want it to look nice.

- Yeah. I got some hands-on time with that at the Consumer Electronic Show and it was cool. I do not have one myself. I've gotta get one.

- It is an iPhone Life Best of CES Award Winner, as a matter of fact.

- Yes. We can link to that in the show notes.

- Oh yeah.

- I'll make a note to do that. Next I wanna tell you about our free daily newsletter called "iPhone Life Tip of the Day." If you sign up at iphonelife.com/dailytips, you'll get an email in your inbox every morning that teaches you something cool you can do with your iPhone in just one minute. And today I have a tip I wanted to share with you that was one of my favorites this week, and it's actually one of the new features of iOS 14.5. And that is how to unlock your iPhone with a mask on using your Apple Watch. So, the benefit of this tip is pretty clear. If you're out and about these days, you're usually going to be wearing a mask for safety and it makes it really annoying to try to unlock your iPhone. Each time you have to resort to entering in your passcode. And if you're taking security seriously, you probably have at least a six-digit passcode so it's kind of a hassle. So, this feature is really nice. If you own an Apple watch, you can take advantage of it once you update to iOS 14.5. So, this is like a two-fold tip 'cause I also just wanted to remind listeners at home how to update your software in case you don't know. You just open your Settings app, go to General, and then Software Update. And there, your phone will tell you what software your phone is running and will let you know if there's an update available in which case you can download and install it. The iOS 14.5 one took me about two hours to update. What about you, David?

- It took me, you know, I don't know 'cause I, as usual, I just sorta like updated it and then walked the other away, and did a bunch of things. It took a little bit longer than I expected though.

- Yeah. I think in general it does. Like one little tip is to not start updating your phone if you're about to go to lunch or something like that.

- That was exactly what I did by the way.

- Really?

- Yeah, that's why I didn't know. I had to leave my phone at home. And then I came back and it was done.

- Ah, I see. Yeah, so the other thing is you need to be connected to wifi and your phone needs to be charged at least 50%. I recommend just plugging it in so you don't have to worry about that. And iOS 14.5 comes with a lot of new features. This is one of the ones that has been getting the most hype online, and so I wanted to share it with you. But, as I mentioned earlier, in the main section of the podcast, we're gonna go over all of the iOS 14.5 exciting new features and tell you about them.

- Yeah.

- So, for this tip, let me just explain a little bit more about how you take advantage of this. If you have a phone that has face ID and if you have an Apple Watch, then you're in luck. You have to have an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and it's an iPhone X or later that has face ID. So, you have to be wearing your Apple Watch to set it up and it has to have a passcode enabled with it. So, you open the Settings app on your iPhone, you go to Face ID and Passcode. Then you enter your phone's passcode and toggle on Unlock with Apple Watch. And then you'll be led through a couple more screens that you just need to continue to enable. And then, how you actually use it is, if you're out and about and you wanna unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch, you just have to, the first time your iPhone will ask for your passcode, and after this, it'll just automatically happen when you go lift your phone and you're wearing your Apple Watch. And so that is it. And like this actually kind of applies to a previous episode where David and I talked about this feature with your Mac. You can use your Apple Watch to unlock certain Mac models, more recent Mac models. And it's the same thing where like, once you have it set up, there's nothing you need to do. It just works, which is pretty great. Have you been using-

- A couple things- with this.

- this feature, David?

- Yeah. So, a couple of things, you do also need to update your Apple Watch operating system. So, 'cause I did it. I was really excited for this feature so I updated to iOS 14 and I was like, "Ready to go!" And I like put on my watch, and I went to turn it on. They're like, "Oh, you need to also, after updating to iOS 14.5, you need to then go and update your Apple Watch." I think it updates automatically, but it might wait till, it's the same thing where it has to be charging. And so you have to like plan it out to get this feature all set up. But I have been using it and I love it. Like it is so annoying when I have a mask on to have to constantly use my passcode to enter my phone. And it just works, similarly to how I have recently, after our podcast, fallen in love with the feature that unlocks my Mac. I'm really enjoying it. How about you? Have you done it yet?

- No, I actually haven't yet. Which I'm glad you have so you can give listeners the actual hands-on experience with it. I feel like I've become so fast at entering my passcode and I'm on another little stint right now where I just don't wear my Apple Watch. I'm definitely one of those Apple Watch phase people. Like what hooks me in is working out. And I did like a fitness competition with my nephew recently and that was really fun. And so I was wearing it every day for that. But then the last couple of weeks I just haven't been wearing it, so.

- Did you lose the competition? Is that what happened?

- Yes, I did lose the competition.

- And how old is your nephew?

- And I am salty about it. He's 19. Oh, okay. For some reason I was thinking it was your little eight-year-old nephew.

- No, no, no. No, he's 19 and he was like in cross country and stuff so I don't feel-

- Oh.

- that bad about it.

- We can't keep with 19-year-olds for fitness. You've set yourself up.

- Yeah, that's true.

- I also go through phases of wearing, especially during the pandemic when I'm just home a lot. I'm like, "Do I really need a watch on all the time?" I always wear it when I'm working out, but this has gotten me back into the habit of wearing it. But it is extra convenient. And what I like about this feature is you almost don't notice it's happening. Your watch gives you a little like tap that it's doing this. And so you're like, "Oh yeah, I didn't have to enter my passcode." It's just so seamless that you don't notice it's happening. But my one complaint for this feature is that it doesn't seem to work for Apple Pay. So, whenever I'm using Apple Pay, I have my mask on. And the whole purpose of using Apple Pay is to save me time to not have to take out my wallet. But if it goes to the whole motion of like trying to recognize my face, can't recognize my face, put in my passcode, it doesn't save me any time. And so I get it that they want an extra layer of security for, you know, using a credit card because somebody could like take your phone, and if you were nearby, maybe charge something you didn't want them to, like your kid could do it, but I wish it worked for Apple Pay or at least it gave me the option to turn it on for Apple Pay.

- I know, I wonder if Apple will roll that out 'cause that seems like an oversight almost.

- I think it was intentional. I think they wanted an extra layer of security for making purchases 'cause you can, you know, you can charge thousands of dollars.

- Yeah, sure enough.

- You really wanna make sure you're next to your phone.

- Yeah. All right, well, this is I think a great tip. Let us know how it works for you. We have other questions for later in this episode, but we could make this one of our questions for the day. Have you tried unlocking your iPhone with your Apple Watch and what do you think of it? Email podcast@iphonelife.com to let us know. Next, I wanted to tell you about our premium subscription called iPhone Life Insider. This is our educational platform that has tons of content to help you master your Apple devices. This includes things like virtual online courses, live online courses, where you can join expert instructors and be led through new features. We have a whole library of in-depth video guides accompanied by downloadable PDFs so you can follow along at home. You get daily video tip versions of our daily tips. You get a digital subscription to iPhone Life magazine, plus our back issues of over 30 back issues in our archive. And you get access to Ask an Expert, a feature that lets you ask your tech questions to us, and we will help guide you to a solution. And last but not least, you get this podcast without any of the ads and you get premium content from David and I as well, including lots of special tips and tricks that we keep at the end of the episode just for insiders.

- Did you mention-

- So I wanted to let you know about all that.

- Did you mention the class?

- I mentioned that we do courses, but I should mention that we have a course underway. Right now, David and I, and another iPhone Life employee, Colin Thomas, who has 10 years experience as a professor, we're teaching the "iPhone Fundamentals" course that helps you master your iPhone and really get those foundational skills so that you can use your iPhone with confidence. We're into our second week. It's a month-long course. So, we've only done two of eight sessions. So, it's still a great time to join. And you can watch the video replays of last week where we went over some of the basic navigation of your device. This week, we're getting into fun things like productivity tips for Reminders and Calendar, and things like that. So, where are you go to sign up for Insider is iphonelife.com/podcastdiscount. And that way you'll get 10% off of your subscription, plus, if you're a senior, service personnel, or veteran, you get an extra 10% off at checkout. So, you get a total of 20% off your subscription. And it's a great time to join. And then another amazing thing is, later this month, we're coming out with an in-depth guide on iOS 14.5. So, while we're talking about a lot of these features in today's episode, we're not walking you through how to set it up and helping you get the most out of these new features, but we'll be doing that in this guide later this month. So, iphonelife.com/podcastdiscount. Next I wanna tell you about one of the questions that we helped an Insider with recently. And this is something David and I have talked about here and there, but not recently. And so I thought it would be a good time to bring it up. There's a feature on your phone called auto-lock. and it determines how quickly your phone goes to sleep while you're using it if you haven't tapped anything recently. And it can go anywhere from 30 seconds to never automatically turning off. If it never turns off, obviously that's a security issue and a battery drain issue. But if it's going to sleep all the time on you, it can be very annoying if you're trying to read something and suddenly your phone is locked. So, we had one of our Insiders ask a question about this. They say, "I love face ID, however, the auto-lock max I have is only five minutes," or that's what they have their auto-lock set to. "When sitting with my iPhone next to me, I just wanna check my phone or read a text. I constantly have to pick it up and use face ID or enter my passcode. Is there any other clever way to get around this problem?" I wish there was also a fingerprint tap option. That's a little bit unrelated. "Do you have any suggestions?" Response, I understand your frustration. My best suggestion would be to set auto-lock to Never for periods of time while you're wanting to check your phone more regularly, for example, if you're expecting a text or wanna keep a recipe open. Good example with a recipe. I've had such an annoying time when you're trying to follow a recipe on your phone and you have food on your hands, and it keeps on locking. The response goes on. It looks like the iPhone 13 might re-introduce the fingerprint option so we're hoping for that. This is definitely an area where there is room for improvement and we're keeping an eye on updates. So, I just thought this would be a good one to share with you what our expert wrote back and then also David and I can weigh in on this. What do you have your auto-lock setting to, David?

- Let me look. I definitely don't have it on Never. I don't know if you could see my face when you said that. I mean, it's a reasonable recommendation. I don't wanna knock our expert 'cause I think it makes sense, especially for certain use cases, but I wanna-

- And they were saying temporarily. Like for an activity, and then you would turn it back off.

- Yeah. No, I think it was a perfectly good answer, but I wanna caution people that there's two problems with Never. And funnily enough, we got into this conversation in our last course, for those who are attending our course. The first problem is that it can drain your battery. So, when your screen is on, it drains your battery. And so if you just leave it on all the time, it'll drain your battery. The second problem is, if you forget to put it to sleep, and then you put it in your pocket, you can do a lot of pocket dials. So, it happens for people quite frequently who have, this is what we got into in our class, is somebody had the problem where they were having a lot of pocket dials. And it's because, A, I'm actually shocked by how many people don't know that this button on the side puts your phone to sleep. And it's not powering your phone off. If you just tap it, it puts it to sleep. So, that's if you put it on Never, definitely make sure you're using that side button to put your phone to sleep. But a lot of times if you forget to put your phone to sleep and you have it set to Never, you put it in your pocket, you can do all sorts of weird things in your pocket where you're calling people or texting people. So, you wanna be careful of it. But I think, yeah, certainly if you're like doing a recipe or you're like doing something where you need to use your phone constantly, but let's say you have a mask on and you don't have an Apple Watch, there's scenarios where it definitely makes sense. So, with all of that said, I will look it up. Why don't you tell us what you have yours set to as I'm looking this up?

- I have mine set to two minutes currently. And I will, sometimes for work, for instance, when we're recording this podcast, sometimes I'll have show notes out and I'll set it to Never just for the podcast recording time so that I can know that I can refer to my phone at any time. But yeah, I'm on the same page with you, David, that I would only set it to Never, for a specific activity, and that you're gonna turn it off afterwards. That having Never as your default is opening you up to lots of pocket dialing and battery drain, and all of that. And just to let you know, how you get here is you go to Settings, Display and Brightness, and then you tap Auto-Lock. So, I thought this was a good tip, just reminding people that going into the Settings app actually is pretty easy. So, you can use some of these settings for a limited time only. I think sometimes people just avoid altogether like thinking once you have a setting set, like that's it. But it's something you can revisit depending on the activity you're doing. Although, I also agree that I wish there was a better solution for this issue.

- Can I tell you, okay, two things. First of all, I'm gonna tell you something funny. I had mine set to Never.

- Really?

- But it must've been a mistake. I must've done it while I was in the class showing people what to do because I hate having it set to Never.

- That's so funny. That's the first thing. Second of all, I noticed this interesting, when I was setting up my Apple Watch unlock, I noticed this interesting feature, and I don't know if it's new to iOS 14.5 or I just didn't know it existed, but if you go into a Face ID and Passcode, there's this feature that is attention awareness features, it's called. And so it says, "iPhone will check for attention before dimming the display or lowering the volume of alerts." So, basically what that means is the other thing that's really annoying, the other scenario that's really annoying is if you're reading an article and you have your go to sleep set too quickly. You're sitting there reading it, and then it'll go to sleep while you're reading an article. And so now, apparently, it'll check for, somehow it checks to see if you are paying attention. I don't know how it works, but I had never seen that feature. Had you?

- Yeah, that one, we've covered it in some of our accessibility articles because if you enable the feature that allows you to unlock your phone without you looking at your phone, I can't remember the exact details of it, but depending on certain conditions you have, it might be harder for you to unlock your phone and so this would make it easier. It makes your phone a little less secure because someone could, you know, hold your phone up to your face while you're sleeping and it would unlock it 'cause it's not requiring your attention-

- Oh that's what it is then.

- you're not open eyes looking at it. So, it's more about like, can your face, without your eyeballs looking at your phone, unlock your phone?

- Okay.

- And so that's something, you know, if you enable, it just makes it a little easier. If you're having trouble getting face ID to work, maybe you would wanna try this because it makes, you know, it a little less picky about how it unlocks your phone.

- I am so not- I mean, I doubt anyone would be holding up my phone to my face to unlock it while I sleep so I wouldn't be too worried about it. But, you know, it is less secure, I guess.

- On the list of things I'm worrying about in my life, that falls very low.

- Oh yeah. Me too. All right.

- Okay, let's move on.

- So, moving along, I wanted to read a couple comments from listeners from the last couple episodes. We had one, we asked recently like if there anything from Apple's spring announcement that people were excited about, and Steve wrote in, saying, "I'm planning on purchasing the AirTag. I think they will be a hit since they fit in the Apple ecosystem, as mentioned in the podcast. I've been planning to purchase an iMac for some time and use my MacBook Pro, MBP," I was like, "What's that stand for?" "MacBook Pro as a backup. I think the addition of colors is nice, but I'm a space gray fan. Thank you for the great content and coverage that you provide to us Insiders. Stay safe, Steve."

- Thank you, Steve.

- Thanks for writing in, Steve. I also just ordered an AirTag.

- Oh!

- And even though I was tempted by the iMac, I've decided against it because, as we've talked about, I like being more mobile with working.

- One thing too, 'cause we don't have a news and rumors section of this podcast, I've been reading that we were very accurate with our predictions in the last episode that it seems to be that Apple is already working on the next generation of M1 chip, probably be called M2, I'm guessing. And later this year, Apple will be coming out with a pro line. So, they'll have a MacBook Pro and they might even have an iMac Pro. I don't know. But I think MacBook Pro-

- With M2's, you mean?

- Yeah, MacBook Pro later-

- 'Cause we already have-

- this year with M2's.

- a MacBook Pro with M1.

- Mm-mm. We don't. We have that MacBook Air, but they do not have a MacBook Pro with the M1, I believe. I mean, now we'll have-

- I think they have the-

- to fact check ourselves.

- they have a 13" M1 MacBook Pro.

- Oh, really?

- Yeah.

- Okay.

- It's just that the 13" is pretty small, I think, especially if you're getting a MacBook Pro for usually it's like for higher-powered tasks, you want a bigger screen. But I'm just double-checking this to make sure I'm right. Yeah, there's a 13".

- You were right.

- Yeah.

- Okay. With the M1?

- Yeah.

- Okay. My bad.

- But-

- My bad, but nonetheless.

- having a larger display and an M2 would be even more appealing. 'Cause I remember at the time of the announcement you were saying you wanted to wait for a 15" one.

- Yeah, and it's actually 16". So, I want that 16" really badly.

- Nice. So, okay. I've got a couple more comments from listeners. Tim Roden from Hutchinson, Kansas. "I just want you to know that I use my Apple Watch quite often to unlock my MacBook Pro." This was in response to David and I setting up this feature, but we hadn't used it yet. "I just open the lid and the first thing is that I feel it on my watch and then see that the screen is unlocked." So, he enjoys that feature. Greg wrote in on the same point. "Good day, guys. I just listened to your latest podcast, and to answer the question of the week, yes, I use my Apple Watch to unlock lock my MacBook. It's a great feature and seamless. The only rub is that my watch pings an alert when the MacBook is unlocked, which I'm so conditioned to immediately view. You guys doing great. Thanks for all you do." Thanks Greg! Appreciate the encouragement.

- Yeah, I have my Apple Watch set to silent, but it does tap my wrist, and I'm like, "Why is my wrist tapping?" So, I agree, there is sort of this weird little like cognitive moment where you have to realize the reason why your wrist is tapping is because you're turning on your Mac, which is a little confusing. And also, just as a more meta point, Don and I have been really excited about Apple Watches and security features around Apple Watches lately. So, thank you for being patient to those of you who do not have an Apple Watch, although maybe be less patient and buy an Apple Watch, but let's make a promise the next episode we will not talk about Apple Watches. How does that sound, Donna?

- Yeah, 'cause probably people at home without one are feeling left out that they can't use any of-

- I'm feeling sad.

- these new features we're talking about. What's funny is that we're about to now talk about iOS 14.5. Well, but only one of those features is Apple Watch-related, so.

- And we covered it. So, next episode is an Apple Watch-free episode. Tune in.

- Yeah. So, getting into iOS 14.5, let's just do a quick overview of what the features are and we could talk about what the ones we're most personally excited about. I've got the lineup listed here. There's updates to Reminders, there are new emojis, there's AirTag support in the Find My app. There is Apple Maps updates including crowdsourced information and ETAs for cycling. Probably what you've heard about the most is the security and safety updates, including the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch and then the ability to opt out of app tracking. And that stops apps from tracking you across other sites and apps. So, this is one that Facebook and Google, they're very unhappy about and you may have been hearing about that. So, we're gonna get into that discussion a little bit as well. But first off, David, which features of these are you excited about or have thoughts on?

- I think really the main two ones are the, there's two that stand out. The Apple Watch feature is a really big deal. If you have an Apple Watch, it's really exciting. The other one is all these security features which are controversial and they're fascinating. And those are the ones that have my attention. I haven't explored Apple Maps or Reminders yet. I haven't explored the other ones yet, but I am, I think I'm looking forward to the guide we're working on now to really 'cause there's always so many little hidden, nested features for this stuff and I just haven't dove in yet. This does seem like it's a particularly large update that mid cycle. Like usually an update this size is it's almost like an iOS 15, you know what I mean?

- Yeah, definitely. And there's a bunch of Siri improvements too. There are some things I didn't mention there as well. And they're all really nice features. Like some of them just are a little smaller so they might not like sound that exciting, but actually, all taken together, it's pretty significant, I would say.

- I do wanna mention I did actually, one of the features, it's kind of a hybrid, iPhone-Apple TV feature, but I did take advantage of it, which is now, with the new Apple TV operating system, you can use your iPhone to customize your display, which was really cool. Basically, how it worked is you like went into Apple TV and you went into Settings, Video, and it's Calibrate. And then you hold your iPhone like facing the TV and it displayed colors on your TV which your iPhone camera viewed, and it used that to tell, kind of like a True Tone display, to tell like how accurate the colors were and to modify the colors of like the TV displays when I'm using my Apple TV. It was a really cool process. I had spent, I think I said this in the last episode, I spent a really long time optimizing my TV, and so the end result was sorta like almost exactly what I had already. But it was fun. And for people who don't geek out on TV customization, I feel like it would be pretty cool.

- Yeah, I like that you can do it on your iPhone. That's great.

- It was a really easy to do process for something that normally is really tedious. Like customizing your display on your TV is tedious, it's complicated. This was like super easy.

- Yeah, I do love how Apple can make processes like that. Usually like only if you're kind of like a real tech geek would you be going in and customizing your TV viewing experience, but like on the iPhone, it makes it so anyone could do it.

- And just to put a plug for this, I know it makes me sound geeky, but you should. Like you should customize your TV 'cause the preset settings for TVs are terrible. It's one of those weird things where they're set up for when you buy it in like, you're in a Best Buy and there's bright lights, and they're trying to make it stand out. But like what a TV looks like in Best Buy versus what it looks like in your living room is a totally different thing and you should invest some time into customizing it. Okay, Donna.

- You mentioned David, some of the features that you haven't tried yet, so I'll just go over those 'cause we've been having some daily tips over the course of the past week on the new features that I've been checking out. And so the Apple Maps updates are kinda interesting. Though like if you've been using Waze or Google Maps, this won't be new to you, that a lot of these apps use crowdsourced information. And so that can give you if there's like a traffic jam or some sort of car crash, or something like that, those apps will reroute you to a better route. So, with this Apple Maps update, they're now adding crowdsourced information where like you can report an accident or a speed trap and things like that in Apple Maps, whereas you weren't able to do that before. Again, it's like Apple is just playing catch up. I actually have been griping on the podcast in the past couple months that I don't think Apple Maps is nearly as good as other navigation apps, but it is nice to see that they're taking steps to at least catch up. And you can use Siri to report accidents, that you don't have to have Apple Maps running in the background to do this either. And that's pretty nice. It makes it easy. One of the things that confuses me about this update is like Apple clearly has been doing some crowdsourcing because like it tells you traffic, it tells you if traffic's slow up ahead. It tells you if there's an accident up ahead. And it started telling me speed traps, which I think is great. Like it's so nice. Big speed trap ahead. I don't know-

- Huh.

- how they've been doing that up until now. And maybe they're just improving it because you can report it. I don't know. But they're clearly doing some of it.

- I didn't know that they had any speed traps, but what my takeaway from it was that Apple has been tracking, like, for instance, if people are going really slow in an area, that, you know, that there's traffic in that area. So, they're using some crowdsourced data, but they haven't had the ability to have people report things themselves. You know, like in Waze I use that a lot. Where you could see cars ahead and that they reported an accident or you know?

- Yeah.

- And so they're adding that ability to report it yourself. And then you can also report if an incident is cleared afterwards. So, I think it's really just like having that interactive component that you can enter things in. But that's a good clarification. I believe you're right that Apple Maps has had some crowdsourcing going on in recent years. The other feature they added is that you can send your ETA for biking or walking. And that's been something that was, before, reserved just for driving. Which again, cycling, like they don't even have cycling route options in most places so I wasn't particularly excited about that. I feel like if you live probably in a bigger city, then you would have cycling options. And then the Reminders-

- Have there been.

- Yeah, have there been any that you've been particularly using a lot?

- iOS 14.5 features?

- Yeah. Yeah. Sorry, you just cut out for a second.

- Oh, sorry. So, I missed the question. Really, I have not. Like, I really spent some time before the podcast researching the newer features. And so I will plan on using them, but the Reminders one is one that I actually think I will end up using a lot 'cause I use the Reminders app every day and I have a lot of different lists there for different reasons. You know from my to-do's to grocery lists and stuff like that. And you can now sort them in different ways. And I think this is nice 'cause you sort them by list and depending on what type of list it is, there's like a different logical ways to sort it. For instance, with like if you were creating a list of guests for an event, it would make sense to sort it alphabetically, whereas in my personal reminders list, I wanna see like the most urgent and ones that are have like dates attached to them. I wanna see them sorted by date or by urgency. So, you can now do that in the Reminders app, which is nice. And I feel like that a lot of Apple's sort of stock productivity apps are pretty bare-bones or they can seem to be, so it's nice to see a little more customization options there.

- Mhmm.

- You can also print your Reminders lists now. I think in general it's kinda nice to take your to-do lists off of pen and paper and to have them just on your phone, but there are probably instances where that would be useful.

- I could see some. I still print a packing list, I'm not gonna lie.

- Seriously?

- Yeah. I'm old-school like that.

- And actually what's funny is like whenever my husband goes to get groceries, he asks that I write it on pen and paper. He doesn't like having his phone to do it. So, maybe I should do that for him.

- There you go. Make a grocery list on the Reminders app-

- There you go.

- and print it for him, so.

- That's funny 'cause I definitely use my phone for grocery lists. I'm not like walking around with this like paper. Sorry, Tyler, not meaning to laugh at you.

- Oh, sorry.

- Okay, can we spend a few minutes talking about the controversy? The biggest feature here is the privacy tracking.

- Yes, 'cause with a lot of these other features, I think I'm just gonna link to the daily tips in our podcast post so you can check things out. Like you can make group FaceTime calls with Siri now and there are new emojis, which by the way, finally they're acknowledging interracial couples. So, that's a good thing. Stuff like that. But I agree, the podcast, this is a good time to talk about the app tracking because you might want to, we can weigh in 'cause this is something that it's like not totally a straightforward decision. It's nice to have the ability, but you may or may not want to enable this feature.

- Yeah, so- So, in your privacy settings now... No, actually I take that back. It's not in your settings. If you update to iOS 14.5, now if you open apps that were tracking your activity across different sites and apps, they're now going to be required to ask your permission to do that and you can either opt in or opt out. And it's a bit of a weird thing because Apple doesn't have a hard deadline of on when apps need to start doing this. So, we had different people on our editorial team trying this out or like opening up different apps. And some people were getting these permission requests and some weren't. I actually haven't been able to, like when I opened Instagram after updating, it didn't ask my permission for this.

- Oh, I did.

- And so I'm not totally sure why.

- You did get this?

- It's really interesting 'cause they give you a whole, Facebook has built into their app now, before the little pop-up asking permission comes up, they have this little splash that gives you a guilt trip about like you, like, we need this, it's important for small businesses, keep Facebook free. Like they give you a lot. They're clearly really worried. And then it pops up.

- Okay. Yeah. So, I'm glad to see that you got that 'cause I'm wondering why mine didn't. I actually went into my settings and I had a setting enabled awhile back in Privacy that just blocked app tracking altogether. And so I think that -

- Oh.

- that might be why.

- Maybe.

- So, that's something to go check in your privacy settings 'cause you can just do it, like make a blanket decision that you're blocking all app tracking, in which case maybe you don't need to do it on an app-by-app basis. But anyway, yeah. So, Facebook and Google are fighting this. Facebook, like you said, their points on the pros of being able to track your activity is that your ads will be tailored to you so you'll get relevant ads that you want. And it also is good for small businesses because small businesses might not have to spend as much if they can really target people who are most interested in their product. So, there's that. But then the con is just your privacy and having all of that data being tracked. Like, do you really want that? What's your thoughts on this?

- Well, I just wanna back up for a second and give people a little context of what's really happening here. Because I think if you have not run a campaign on Facebook, and most people obviously haven't, you probably don't really understand what it means to be tracked across the web. So, basically how it works is if I go set up an ad campaign on Facebook, I'm usually driving them to my site. And so what I need to do is I need to tell, like, I need to tell, when I drive somebody from Facebook to my site, did they purchase something? And then Facebook, what I do is I add a little cookie or a little pixel on my website to track did somebody purchase something, and Facebook uses that information to tell me this A, the success of my campaign, and B, to tailor who my ad is displayed to based on did they buy something on my site? The other thing they do is the reverse. Where if somebody comes to my site, they look at, say, iPhone Life Insider, and then they go to Facebook, you can set it up so that you have a Facebook pixel on your site. And then when somebody goes to Facebook, you can show them an ad of iPhone Life Insider. So, you can show an ad on Facebook based on user behavior, based on whether they visited your site. So, the Facebook does have legitimate points. It really does allow small businesses to target the right people. And as a Facebook user, it allows you to get relevant ads to you. Like if you go and you are thinking about buying something on Amazon, and then you go on Facebook and they show you that product, it probably is more relevant than other ads. But also what Facebook does is, because they're on basically every website in the world, they are building this entire profile on each person. And they're using that for their own means to do targeted ads. And so there are really serious privacy concerns at the same time. So, I see both sides of it, but it's a tricky one.

- So, David, if you turn off app tracking, Facebook can still track what you're doing on Facebook though. Like, would that be enough to allow them to get enough data that that's helpful for someone like, let's say iPhone life doing paid ads?

- You lose an important data point, right? Like I can tell how many people click on my ad, but you lose the ability to tell did they actually go buy something on my site? And without that, then I'm targeting clicks instead of purchases and it's a less powerful data point. You also lose the ability to track the reverse. Like I can't show an ad on Facebook to somebody if they visited my site, which is a very, very common ad type, and most of you have seen it. And it feels creepy, right? Like it feels like, "Wait, why does Facebook know that I almost just bought this product and then decided not to buy it?" And that that's how it knows. So, you lose a data point there. Yeah, I, oh go ahead.

- I think- Do you have a takeaway first?

- Well, I'm sympathetic to both sides because, as a small business owner, it is valuable to me. And, you know, as a publisher, publishers are in such a difficult position right now. We're expected to give content away for free, but everybody gets mad at us if we place ads and like gets concerned about the privacy concerns of that, yet doesn't wanna pay for content. So, it's a really difficult position and this helps. So, I am sympathetic. I don't think Facebook is only looking out for their interest, but also I am, as a consumer, very concerned about the privacy implications of Facebook building this entire database on each of us. So, I'm sympathetic to both. I did go in and not allow Facebook to track me, to be honest, despite the fact that I'm a publisher and I felt guilty about it. What about you? What are your thoughts on it?

- Yeah. So, I was gonna say I also think there are legitimate reasons to allow app tracking. My dad owns an internet business and he has been really successful with Facebook ads just targeting the local community. Like it is pretty powerful and kind of amazing. And I've also experienced that a lot of the ads that target me are things that I end up liking and wanting. Like there is some convenience to that, to the fact that the ads that show up for me on Facebook and Instagram are things that I recently searched. So, that being said, though, I do, I wanna take advantage of app blocking. I have it, like I said, turned off all together. I think that's why I haven't been given these permissions, but, you know, requests, but if I am given the option, I will block it just because I think it's just gotten really out of hand how much it feels like your phone is like spying on you to try to like sell things to you. I swear it feels at this point like I'll have a conversation about something and I see ads targeting me for something that I was talking about. I don't know how much of that is real. You know, probably I did enter something into my phone or search something that was relevant to it and it wasn't actually the conversation that did it. But enough creepy things like that have happened to me that, if I'm given tools to stop these apps from tracking me or just slowing down Facebook a little bit and Google on tracking me, I'm gonna do that. I think I'm gonna give it a try with these new blocking features. And if I start feeling like ads aren't as relevant or tailored to me, I can always go and reverse those settings. So, it's not like a permanent decision. But I guess I just feel like also, the one thing I always think is totally not legitimate is that Facebook is saying, "Help keep Facebook free." It's like Facebook is making so much money. They do not need us to enable these features to stay free. I think that's ridiculous.

- I mean, Apple really is positioning themselves well here because it's so hard to feel bad for Facebook and Google.

- Yeah, I know.

- Like can I feel bad for this? Like, they're like this huge, huge corporation who's trying to spy on me and they want me to feel guilty about it?

- I know. And so I think like if I felt like the us enabling this feature was really gonna hurt small businesses to a huge degree and make it so that ads couldn't... Like already Facebook can still track my activity within the app, and so can Instagram. And so like it might not give them every data point they need, but they're still gonna probably have plenty of data points to be able to target me with ads.

- Yeah, exactly. Although, I mean, Apple really owns a significant chunk of ecosystem when you talk about, like, for me, I use a Mac so I'm using Safari and I'm using my iPhone. And they won't be able to track it. I think Apple is gonna shut all of that down. And so it is gonna be like I get why they're panicking. It's a big deal for them. But, again, it's Facebook and Google. How bad can I feel?

- And this is what we wanted to make this the question of the week. Are you going to opt out of app tracking? Why or why not? Email us at podcast@iphonelife.com. And this is all the time we have for today. So, we'd better wrap up the episode. Thank you so much for tuning in and we will be back in a couple of weeks for an Apple Watch-free episode.

- Thank you all so much.

- David, let's do our complaints and learning. Do you have one? Do you wanna go first or should I?

- Sure. I can go first. I can't remember if this is an update on a previous complaint and learning or if we never talked about it. So, I'm gonna pretend like we haven't talked about it, and then I'll give my update. Did we talk about how you can do a back tap on your phone to pull up a notification, or to control things on your phone?

- I never remember like in what context we talked about stuff. We've talked about it before and I can't remember if it was on the podcast.

- I think it was in a class. So, I'm gonna tell you guys about it. You can go into Accessibility on your phone. If you go to Settings, General, Accessibility, there are options to customize what happens when you tap on the back of your phone. And it's pretty cool. Like I have it set up so if I double-tap the back of my phone, it pulls up my Control Center. Or if I triple-tap, well, see I'm already getting into the complaint of it. So, if I triple-tap, it pulls up my Notification Center. So, I have Control Center on a double-tap, Notification Center on a triple-tap. So, it was a really cool feature. It's like one of those little like perfect tips because nobody knows you can do it and it's a really cool thing to do on your iPhone. Here's my complaint-

- Does it make you feel- kind of like cool using it?

- with that. Well, it would. if ever freaking used it. That's my complaint. I never use it. I always forget it exists. I always forget what my two taps does or my three taps does. And it works about 80% of the time. So, it's not like it doesn't work, but if you sit there and 20% of the time you triple-tap the back of your phone and nothing happens, it's really annoying to the point where then you don't bother doing it. And the final complaint about it is that sometimes random things will just tap my phone twice. Like if I just like put it on the table in a weird way, all of a sudden, it's pulled up my Control Center on me. So, I was really excited about this feature. So, if you haven't heard me talk about it, we just went on a rollercoaster 'cause I probably got you excited about it and then bashed the feature, but my conclusion on this is that I don't think I love it. Do you have it turned on? I know we talked about it for awhile.

- No, I tried it out at one point to trigger Control Center, but I just never used it. Same kind of deal you. So, I feel like it was more of a fun novelty. But it worked when I did the taps, but I could see it also probably accidentally triggering, but I didn't keep it enabled long enough to really find out.

- Yeah. Oh, I have one more. I'll share one more.

- All right.

- I have switched widgets.

- Hmm.

- Big deal, I know. I have switched from the Apple's default weather widget to Yahoo's weather widget. And I think it's a lot prettier-

- Oh.

- and I like it. It's one of those things with widgets where I kind of find myself caring more what it looks like because it takes up quite a bit of screen real estate. So, what they do is the background of the widget like reflects the weather. So, for those watching at home, you'll see right now it's kind of a gray, cloudy day and so the background is gray and cloudy. It just does a nice job both of showing me the information, the relevant information that I want, while also looking nice on my home screen. So, I'd recommend the Yahoo weather widget.

- Oh, I'll give that a try.

- Which of course you have to download Yahoo Weather to get for those who are not used to widgets.

- Oh yeah. It's like a shortcut to the app that gives you a preview. So, you actually have to have an app that it goes to. All right, my complaint and learning this week is, last week at our "iPhone Fundamentals" course, Colin pointed out how do you add apps from the App Library back onto your home screen.

- Oh, yeah. That was a good one.

- And so I, for a while, had been wondering, like when you go to your App Library and you enter the search bar at the top, I was like trying to press and hold on apps to bring them back onto my home screen and I wasn't seeing how to do that. But actually, what's funny is now that I'm doing it now, I'm actually able, so I'm able just to drag and drop it onto my home screen. So, I don't know if that's new to iOS 14.5 or what 'cause that wasn't possible at one point. So, anyway, for sure if you press and hold anywhere on your home screen, you'll enter jiggle mode. And that's when all your app icon start shaking and the ones that can be deleted will have a little minus sign on it. So, you can do that to rearrange your apps. Then, if you swipe all the way over to the right to get to your App Library and go into the like list index of all of your apps, you can then press and hold on an app icon, and drag it back onto your home screen. So, this is a nice feature because I've made it so I only have one home screen and then my App Library. And that can make you feel in some ways like, "Oh, do I not have access to all of my apps?" 'cause I only have these few app icons, but really, one, you can always find it in the App Library, and two, it's really easy to drag them back into your home screen if you decide you ever want them there.

- Yeah, that's what I was getting ready to say. The use case for this is for those of you who are like Don and I, who have hidden a lot of their home screens, what happens is sometimes there ends up being apps that you use regularly that were accidentally on a home screen that you no longer have on your phone. And so this is a way to then go find that app and put it back on the home screen you're using. And when we're saying hiding home screens, if you put your phone in jiggle mode, so you have all the apps wiggling, and then you tap the little like dot menu on the bottom of the phone, it'll bring up all of your home screens and you can select which home screens show up and which ones don't. And you can, if you're like me, I had like 10 home screens 'cause I have so many apps, and I don't need them so I just hid them. Which works well for me, but then there were a couple apps I needed to bring back and this is how you do it.

- That's my complaint and learning for the day and I think that's it. Should we wrap up the episode?

- I think so. Thank you, Insiders, for tuning in and for subscribing. And for you all, make sure you attend the class if you haven't.

- Yes.

- We have the replays of the recent sessions and we have classes every Wednesday and Thursday this month.

- Yes. Make sure to tune in. Check your email. I'll send the links there. Otherwise, log in to the Insider site and just go to Courses at the top, and under iPhone Basics course, you'll see the Zoom link to the live sessions.

- Popcorn, made it just for the end of the episode 'cause you burst in.

- Oh, thank you. I wondered what you were smiling about. All right.

- Well, yeah, she like couldn't get it in and she finally found a route in. Okay, thanks Insiders.

- Bye everyone.

- Bye.

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Author Details

Donna Cleveland's picture

Author Details

Donna Cleveland

Donna Cleveland is the Editor in Chief of iPhone Life magazine and is a journalist with ten years of experience in writing, reporting, and producing multimedia content. In her 7 years at iPhone Life, she has produced over 15 in-depth guides and 20 issues of iPhone Life magazine, along with countless articles, podcasts, and blog posts. Aside from managing the editorial team and outside contributors, Donna co-hosts the iPhone Life Podcast, teaches online iPhone educational courses, and enjoys reporting on live Apple events.

Donna began her career as a newspaper reporter before joining the iPhone Life team, where she pairs her penchant for storytelling with her love of Apple products. She's the proud owner of an iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Watch Series 4 and is a defender of AirPods as the best wireless earbuds.

Donna holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication and earned her undergraduate degree in Media & Communications from Maharishi International University. Her writing has appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Little Village Magazine, Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, the Fairfield Ledger, and the Iowa Source, and she was a researcher for American journalist Claire Hoffman's memoir, Greetings from Utopia Park. She is also the host and executive producer of a feminist podcast, Thread the Needle (theneedle.co).