News: iOS 14.4 Public Beta Available for iPhone with More App Clip Experiences, Tracking Requests & New Modem Firmware

iOS 14.4 Public Beta Available for iPhone with More App Clip Experiences, Tracking Requests & New Modem Firmware

The iOS 14.4 developer beta was pushed out a day ago, and now the iOS 14.4 public beta is out and ready for your iPhone. At first glance, there's not much to look at in the new beta release, and it's not yet known if it lays out the groundwork for missing features such as 5G data with dual SIMs, shared third-party app subscriptions, and Xbox Core Controller.

The only thing known at this point about the next phase of iOS 14 is that it includes a way to launch a local App Clip experience via Camera, NFC, Safari Smart App Banner, or iMessage. In iOS 14.3, we gained the ability to scan App Clip Codes with the Code Scanner control.

Aside from that, your iPhone will see a baseband version update. If you go to Settings –> General –> About –> Modem Firmware, you should see a different one than what was there before. For instance, the four iPhone 12 models will see 2.03.03 instead of 1.31.03-5. If you were experiencing any issues with 5G connectivity, hopefully, that's resolved now.

Also, if you have an iPhone 12 model and had issues watching HDR videos, where the black pixels would look lit instead of being turned off, that should be fixed now.

And most importantly, Apple has implemented a new privacy feature originally intended to be pushed out with the iOS 14.0 release but was postponed because of advertiser backlash. With it, you'll now get pop-up requests when an app wants "to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites." You can choose either "Ask App Not to Track" or "Allow."

You could find the "Allow Apps to Request to Track" switch in Settings –> Privacy –> Tracking on older iOS 14 versions, and that's because developers were not forced to implement it in their apps yet, so you wouldn't see any pop-up requests in iOS 14.3 and older. In iOS 14.4, that's changed, and you should see apps start requesting tracking access. One example is the NBA app. Any app you approve or deny can be changed in the Tracking settings.

For more information on what this privacy-related tracking feature means, Apple provides the following to developers to help them determine when they need to implement it into their apps:

With iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, you will need to receive the user's permission through the AppTrackingTransparency framework to track them or access their device's advertising identifier. Tracking refers to the act of linking user or device data collected from your app with user or device data collected from other companies' apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes. Tracking also refers to sharing user or device data with data brokers.

Examples of tracking include, but are not limited to:

  • Displaying targeted advertisements in your app based on user data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies.
  • Sharing device location data or email lists with a data broker.
  • Sharing a list of emails, advertising IDs, or other IDs with a third-party advertising network that uses that information to retarget those users in other developers' apps or to find similar users.
  • Placing a third-party SDK in your app that combines user data from your app with user data from other developers' apps to target advertising or measure advertising efficiency, even if you don't use the SDK for these purposes. For example, using an analytics SDK that repurposes the data it collects from your app to enable targeted advertising in other developers' apps.

The following use cases are not considered tracking, and do not require user permission through the AppTrackingTransparency framework:

  • When user or device data from your app is linked to third-party data solely on the user's device and is not sent off the device in a way that can identify the user or device.
  • When the data broker with whom you share data uses the data solely for fraud detection, fraud prevention, or security purposes, and solely on your behalf. For example, using a data broker solely to prevent credit card fraud.

The developer beta — build number 18D5030e — was pushed out at 10 a.m. PST on Wednesday, Dec. 16. This public beta version was released 24 hours later at 10 a.m. PST on Thursday, Dec. 17. The release notes are the same for both versions:

iOS & iPadOS 14.4 Beta Release Notes

Update your apps to use new features, and test your apps against API changes.

Overview

The iOS & iPadOS 14.4 SDK provides support to develop apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices running iOS & iPadOS 14.4 beta. The SDK comes bundled with Xcode 12.3, available from the Mac App Store. For information on the compatibility requirements for Xcode 12.3, see Xcode 12.3 Release Notes.

App Clips - Resolved

  • In addition to using Code Scanner, you can now launch a local experience via Camera, NFC, Safari Smart App Banner, or iMessage. (68962905)

How to Download & Install the Latest iOS 14.4 Beta

To update your iPhone to iOS 14.4 public beta 1, sign up through Apple's beta site, download and install the configuration profile, then update over the air. If you already have the profile, go to Settings –> General –> Software Update to begin the installation of the latest beta build, or you can wait until it installs automatically if "Automatic Updates" is enabled.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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