iOS Privacy: Instagram and Facebook can track anything you do on any website in their in-app browser
In the world of iOS development, Felix Krause is probably about as close as it gets to royalty (he founded the popular fastlane developer toolkit). So, when he published this report a few weeks ago (followed by a part 2), it got a lot of attention.
With these analyses, I feel Felix struck a fairly good balance between highlighting the technical potential for abuse, and clarifying that there is no current evidence of anything nefarious actually happening. Unfortunately — as is often the case — this responsible analysis was thoroughly steamrolled in the coverage of more mainstream media outlets.
This tracking vector is a legitimate security issue in the wrong hands (though not even a particularly new one, if you go back a few decades to the fight around framebusting on the web). But it's no secret why most major apps prefer to roll their own in-app web browsers: they're highly incentivized to control the end-to-end experience, because that helps keep users inside their walled gardens.
Personally, I'd love to see some of Felix's suggested mitigations get implemented. In addition to solving the security issues, this would also eliminate a few of the biggest headaches around consistent, fully-functional app deep linking.
But in the meantime, it's a reminder: give your users a reliable, deep linked path out of these walled gardens and into your own app. Whether you have a smart banner or just a basic CTA button, it'll help you ensure the security of your users and the full ownership of their engagement.
The Secret Talks That Could Have Prevented the Apple vs. Facebook War
Some readers will remember this episode of The Daily podcast from May, 2021: it tells a decade-long story of how the relationship between Apple and Facebook turned sour, almost certainly contributing to Apple's focus on privacy and the eventual introduction of AppTrackingTransparency.
Turns out…there was more to the story. And (of course) it involved disagreements about money.
How The New York Times Uses Machine Learning To Make Its Paywall Smarter
Paywalls are everywhere, and usually you can get a pretty good handle on which ones will allow a few free articles per month, which don't plug the 'incognito mode loophole', and so on.
The logic behind the New York Times paywall has always seemed to defy easy analysis, and it turns out there's a good reason for this: it's way more sophisticated than you're imagining.
Apple’s ‘Far out’ iPhone 14 event is happening September 7th
Like clockwork, it's almost time for the annual New iPhone Announcement™.
Based on historical precedent going back to 2011 (yes, I checked the dates!), this means we should expect the public release of iOS 16 sometime between September 12-16.
Two things that certainly won't be coming yet?
- SKAdNetwork 4.0. That's still slated for 'later this year' (remember, we still haven't even seen the documentation and it hasn't been included in any beta so far).
- iPadOS 16. Apple says it needs a bit more time this year to get the new multitasking features right, and the Twittersphere agrees.
AppLovin And Unity: Not Lovin' This Unity
File this under the category of 'ATT-induced adtech consolidation', but with a little more drama and a lot more cringy headlines than usual.
Here's the rough order of events to date:
- Unity announced a deal to buy ironSource.
- AppLovin (a larger, direct competitor of ironSource) offered to merge with Unity instead.
- Unity rejected AppLovin's offer, and confirmed its plan to proceed with the ironSource acquisition.
If you're wondering why this weird adtech love triangle is even happening in the first place, the analysis you want to read is here (spoiler alert: it revolves around consolidating ad inventory and ad-selling infrastructure for better data signal in a post-ATT world).
Apple Set to Expand Advertising, Bringing Ads to Maps, TV and Books Apps
This should be a surprise to exactly none of you, but yes…Apple plans sell more ads, in more places, in future.
At this point, the only real question is whether Apple will keep these ads only within their own private-label apps (Maps, TV, News, Books, etc.), or dive back into the world of serving ads to everyone else (which didn't go so well the first time around).
Tips & Techniques
Why you should spend more with fewer networks in a privacy-centric world
Ultimately, the challenges of changes like AppTrackingTransparency and Privacy Sandbox really come down to one thing: less data signal. These effects broadly fall into two categories:
- The loss of fidelity in measurement and attribution data.
- The degradation of audience targeting and data for campaign optimization.
In this newsletter, I tend to write plenty about the first of these (an unavoidable occupational hazard of working at a measurement company!), but there is plenty to know about in the second area too. Here are some best practice gems you won't want to miss.
How to design a referral program
Over the years, I've seen plenty of articles about why referral programs are valuable and how to build one.
…but none of them were written by Andrew Chen, the person behind Uber's referral system (which, according to this post, had a budget of over $300m per year).
Yes, all of this applies to mobile apps too, and don't forget about the deep links to make it all work!)
Design the next iPhone
While you're waiting for the new iPhone announcement next month, Apple is running out of ideas and needs your help!
VP of Product at Bonusly: Andrew Brinkman
How to Build and Scale a Top-Rated Product
Andrew has over fourteen years of experience building product teams that drive outcomes from Sling TV, Hudl, PenLink, and IBM. He has a proven track record of building and leading high-performing products that customers love.
In this episode, Mada and Andrew discuss how to validate customer desirability, leveraging existing organic demand to drive expansion, and how to build a company culture that inspires more dialogue, collaboration, and transparency.
Mobile Growth Los Angeles
Where: Los Angeles, CA.
When: Tue, Sep 13, 6:30 PM (PDT).
Panelists: Slickdeals, more coming soon!
Do you have a mobile growth role you’d like to share with the community?
Just fill out this form — it’s free!
- BetterPool | Senior Growth Engineer — San Francisco, CA | Remote
- Sun Communities | Mobile App Product Marketing Manager — Southfield, MI
Well…look at that: it's the end of the summer already (at least, up here in the northern hemisphere!)
But even though some of us have been on vacation, we all know the world of mobile never really takes a break. In this newsletter issue, we'll recap some of the big stories from the last couple months and take a look at what's coming up in the next few weeks — things are about to start getting interesting.Alex Bauer