Apple announced during the WWDC21 keynote a new option for its mail app that blocks user tracking with invisible pixels. The new feature improves the privacy of mail accounts, stopping advertisers and data brokers from tracking your habits, like opening and reading the message and the user's interaction, like clicking on links.
- Invisible pixels can track users' habits;
- Apple Mail will block the feature, improving privacy.
Invisible pixels, also known as tracking pixels, are added to e-mail messages to check if the recipient read the message, for example. In most cases, the image cannot be seen in the message received, and it can be added not only by the sender, but also a third party — like an ad network or data broker.
Since it sends a request message over the internet to "open" the embedded image, the tracker can identify the IP address of the user. To stop that, Apple presented "Mail Privacy Protection".
Apple announced that the device real IP address can be hidden from the image host, making it harder to advertisers to track users — which can cross-check the IP data with browsing history and other data collected anonymously.
The new privacy feature is expected to be released in a future update for the Mail app, with the release of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey, promised for this fall.