Recently, Apple announced two important new improvements to the way the company handles and tracks user data.

That includes data used by third-party apps downloaded and installed from the Apple App Store.

According to the company's statement, both changes would be available by late spring of this year (2021).

The first of these is an easy-to-understand report entitled "A Day in the Life of your Data," which is meant to serve as an illustrative guide explaining how companies track user data across websites and apps. The idea behind the report is that by giving users a better and more comprehensive understanding of the kinds of data companies are most interested in and how they make use of it, consumers will be in a much better position to make informed decisions about if or whether to share personally identifiable data in the first place.

Even more significantly than the report though, is the company's new App Tracking Transparency feature that will require apps to request permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. The new tool will also give users a bird's eye view of exactly which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to those settings as they see fit.

The changes, while excellent in theory, have also raised some hackles. Facebook, to name one example, bristled at the notion that Apple would dare even attempt to block the ubiquitous app's ability to track Apple users across the web. There appears to be little that Facebook can do about it, but the social media giant has certainly made their displeasure known where the newly planned feature is concerned.

Privacy advocates see this as a huge step forward and a major win for the end user. Naturally, companies that make a mint by tracking and selling user data are less than thrilled about it. For far too long, they've had a free hand and it's well past time to rein them in. Kudos to Apple for the coming changes.

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