How Quickly Will Users Upgrade to iOS 14.5 with IDFA-limiting App Tracking Transparency?

By Estelle Laziuk, Flurry Analyst

iOS 14.5 is expected to impact the entire mobile app industry, from developers to advertisers. As we await Apple’s final launch date, we uncover how quickly you should expect users to upgrade to iOS 14.5 by reviewing the adoption curve of past iOS releases. 

Flurry Analytics, owned by Verizon Media, is used in over 1 million mobile applications, providing aggregated insights across 2 billion mobile devices per month. For this analysis, Flurry analyzed the adoption rates of the past four iOS versions after they launched. Let’s start by reviewing the worldwide adoption rate of the latest operating system version currently in production, iOS 14.4.2.

idfa-ios14-app-tracking-adoption-1442

In the chart above, we show the percentage of active iPhones using iOS 14.4.2. With this version fixing a vulnerability that permits malicious web content to perform universal cross-site scripting, iOS 14.4.2 was rapidly adopted, reaching 35% of iPhones within the first week of launch, and 58% in the following week. In the third week of launch, the adoption rate slowed down, increasing by only 6 percentage points versus 18 points the week before. 

Let’s next review the worldwide adoption of the earlier version iOS 14.4.1, which also fixes a critical vulnerability, allowing a malicious web page to perform remote code execution in WebKit. 

idfa-ios-app-tracking-att-apple-ios14

In the chart above, we show the adoption rate from launch day until the launch of the next iOS version. Adoption of iOS 14.4.1 started spiking in its second week of launch, reaching 35% of iPhone devices. In the third week, adoption continued to climb and quickly reached 55% of iPhones worldwide.

Based on the two iOS versions reviewed so far, when Apple releases new security fixes, Apple users adopt them rapidly.

Let’s next review the adoption of the earlier iOS 14.4 version. This release brings more changes than the two versions reviewed so far. It adds 3 new features and 6 bug fixes.  

idfa-att-app-tracking-ios14-apple-chart3

The adoption of iOS 14.4 resembles that of its prior version, with a steep spike in the second week of launch, reaching 39% of iPhones worldwide. Adoption continued to climb in the third week and then slowed down in the following weeks, hovering around 70%. 

Let’s finally review the adoption of the earlier iOS 14.3 version, which brings even more changes: 19 new features and 11 bug fixes. With that many updates, we think this version has the most similar properties to iOS 14.5. 

idfa-att-app-tracking-apple-ios14

Compared to prior versions reviewed so far, mass adoption of iOS 14.3 seems to have been delayed, spiking to 57% adoption in the fifth week since launch. We think depending on the type of release, especially the number of new features a version brings, Apple could be throttling the number of users who get prompted to upgrade, delaying the spike in mass adoption. 
 

Summary 

  • When Apple releases a new iOS version, there isn’t a consistent pattern in the rate of adoption. Our data shows that the adoption curve looks different across the past four iOS releases, with mass adoption picking up from one to five weeks after launch day. 

  • Depending on the type of release, we think Apple could be throttling the number of users who get prompted to upgrade, impacting adoption rates. This means that adoption uptake could be affected by Apple bucket-testing its release. If this is the case, once the release is made Generally Available (GA), there is consistently a steep spike in adoption, which indicates that Apple users consistently upgrade quickly once they GA a version.

  • We anticipate iOS 14.5 adoption to most resemble that of iOS 14.3, which brought the largest number of new features of the past four versions. We also think that the industry-impacting changes brought about by iOS 14.5 will prompt Apple to bucket-test, resulting in an initially slow adoption, followed by a rapid mass adoption once they GA.

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