Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv and CTO Eran Friedman on WWDC 2023 and iOS 17 privacy updates (and yes, we’re all buying Apple Vision Pro)

By John Koetsier June 21, 2023

What do we know now about Apple’s iOS 17 privacy plans from WWDC 2023? Well, we know that Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv and CTO Eran Friedman are lining up to buy an Apple Vision Pro in early 2024. And we know that SKAN 5’s re-engagement attribution will be more useful than I initially thought.

Our recent LinkedIn Live on Apple, privacy, and WWDC 2023 is now available. (Also, check here for more insights on privacy manifests and other technical details.)

Here are just a few of the highlights:

iOS 17 privacy: on SKAN 5 and re-engagement

I wasn’t personally super-excited after learning more about SKAN 5 and re-engagement attribution in iOS 17: no audiences, no targeting criteria, just identification of generic marketing campaigns that happen to re-scoop up existing app users.

But Singular CTO Eran Friedman saw something different:

“We have a customer in Korea … they’re kind of the Amazon shopping of Korea. They’re installed in 90% of the devices there. 

“They’re saying that we don’t have app install campaigns. It’s irrelevant for us. We only have engagement campaigns. You know what? They barely get any SKAN postbacks at all, right? They feel that this mechanism is irrelevant for them. So now when they actually have some visibility to how many reengagements are coming from SKAN, they feel that can be powerful for their use case, right?”

Makes sense to me, and it’s great that there’s a strong use case for it. It still seems like a feature that’s more useful for giants than minnows, and hopefully there will be more to the story at some point. SKAN 6, anyone?

Privacy manifests: great news for SDK vendors

If you’re on the side of the angels and not being naughty about privacy, iOS 17 privacy manifests are actually a good thing.

Singular CTO Eran Friedman:

“As an SDK vendor … for us it’s great news.

We’ve been getting questions like: what should I fill in my privacy nutrition report, or how should I handle that? And all of this has been hand handled manually by the app developers with our support. I think privacy manifests is a great way to first of all automate or streamline a lot of this process.”

That’s especially true for app developers with a larger number of SDKs in their apps.

The other positive regarding SDKs: signing them will give developers confidence that they’re using the right SDK, not a fake one, and not at risk of SDK injection attacks.

Tracking domains: sub-domains will work

Tracking domains are new in iOS 17. Any endpoints you use for tracking purposes will need to be declared in privacy manifests, and if people using your apps don’t accept tracking via Apple’s ATT pop-up, all traffic to those domains will be blocked.

That’s potentially problematic if you’re doing multiple things — including some that are essential to your app’s functionality — from a single domain.

Good news from Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv:

“It’s not just, for example. You could actually define sub-domains. So you could say I have a domain for tracking, like, and I have a domain that doesn’t do any tracking … non 

“And then you can think about it .. let’s say that you have one of your endpoints in your SDK, your subdomain receives IDFA, then you’re probably going to use this IDFA for tracking, right … versus if you have an endpoint that only exists to serve SKAdNetwork or doesn’t receive anything that can be used for tracking, then you would put that in the non tracking subdomain.”

There’s still some complexity and ambiguity in iOS 17 privacy because fingerprinting, which is against Apple requirements, only requires an IP address and a user-agent at base level. So a level of compliance and integrity is still required. Plus, Apple is instituting Required Reason APIs so that accessing datapoints that could make fingerprinting more granular and closer to the device/person level will require explanation.

The future is private

Required Reason APIs is just one more step in Apple securing its ecosystem for privacy. But it’s probably far from the last step.

From Eran Friedman:

“It’s kind of a step towards [blocking fingerprinting]. It shows some of Apple’s intentions, and if I had to guess, I would say that maybe like in the next WWDC, maybe a year from now … we also see that being blocked, which is why we always keep encouraging our own customers to focus on privacy preserving APIs, focus on SKAN, on long-term solutions rather than legacy, problematic, methodologies.”

Make sense, and yet another reason to not only get very good at SKAN today, and Privacy Sandbox tomorrow, but also MMM.

Enhanced private browsing: potential challenges

Enhanced private browsing in Safari on iOS 17 will add a bunch of features. 

First, it will lock your private browsing windows when you’re not using them behind Face ID or a passcode (so a lot of significant others are going to be asking partners to unlock their phones). More relevant to adtech, enhanced private browsing also “completely blocks known trackers from loading on pages, and removes tracking added to URLs as you browse,” Apple says

All of this happens in private or incognito mode right now, which few people use for day-to-day use (although I know some people who always browse like this.)

If Apple extends this beyond private mode, however, some functionality could start to break on websites that use UTM parameters for essential purposes.

What should app developers and marketers do now?

Keep up to date, and talk to their vendors.

From Gadi Eliashiv:

“Every year when WWDC happens, every vendor in the space rewrites their roadmap given whatever Apple announces. And because of where we are, we have to stay really close to the changes. So I guess what I’m saying to marketers and to developers is use your trusted vendors to give you advice.

Because we probably spend 1000X more time thinking about these things than each developer, because we have to. That’s our job, that’s our livelihood. So use us to figure out how to plan.”

Looks like you’re already starting on that process. There’s one more thing you can do right now …

Much more in the full video

Check out the full video for all the details that Gadi and Eran chatted about, and to start your own planning process around how to prepare for iOS 17.

Watch the full WWDC 2023 video and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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