Apple’s iOS Update Gives Users More Control of Their Privacy
Apple Users Can Block Ad Trackers
On Monday Apple (AAPL) rolled out its new operating software, iOS 14.5, which gives users more control over their privacy—including the ability to prevent advertisers from tracking them online.
The so-called App Tracking Transparency tool will prompt users to opt out of tracking by apps that share data with third parties. This means that information about consumers’ interests and shopping habits will not be given to companies without users’ consent.
How the Software Update Works
With the new software in place, when an app wants to track a user, a window will pop up asking the user for permission. If they say no to tracking, the app can no longer monitor their activity and share data. If an app continues to track a user without their permission, Apple may remove it from the App Store. By adding the pop-up window, Apple is making privacy control easier. Previously, users had to go to settings to block tracking in apps.
Privacy experts welcomed Apple’s efforts but warned the update may not be enough to stop all tracking on devices. App developers and advertising companies can still potentially find workarounds and new tracking methods.
Pushback From App Makers
While privacy advocates are enthusiastic about Apple’s changes, they have drawn criticism from app makers. Facebook (FB), Google (GOOGL), and other app creators argue Apple’s privacy tool will harm small businesses which rely on personalized advertisements. This controversy has prompted Google to make changes to its ads systems and has led to a public feud between Facebook and Apple.
Online privacy has been a topic of heated discussion in recent years. Apple’s software update marks a big step in giving users more say about how their data is collected and shared. Lawmakers, advertisers, and tech users will be eager to see what impact Apple’s decision will have on conversations about privacy in the future.
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Chip Shortages Drive Vehicle Prices Higher
Dealers Benefiting From Low Supply
Automakers including Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) have curbed vehicle production due to a global shortage of semiconductors. While the shortage is hurting car manufacturers, it is benefitting car dealers. The supply-demand imbalance has allowed car dealers to spend less money on marketing while raising the prices of vehicles.
AutoNation (AN), the largest chain of dealerships in the US, reported that its gross profit increased by 61% in the first quarter. Lithia Motors (LAD), a rival dealer, reported that profit per new vehicle increased 33%. Often dealerships must fight for customers with incentives and rebates which can slash vehicle prices by 10% or more. The unique market circumstances are a welcome change for some car sellers.
Low Inventory Causes Concerns
The global semiconductor shortage is expected to last into next year, which means US dealers should experience strong sales in the coming months. Dealers are already sitting on low inventory, with some reporting just 15 days worth of inventory on hand.
While current conditions are benefitting many dealers, some are beginning to see a depletion of their stock and no new shipments coming in. This is leading to concerns that the lack of vehicles will ultimately hurt dealers’ bottom lines, even with higher profit margins.
What These Trends Mean for Consumers
Because the supply of new cars is low and prices are climbing, many consumers are opting for older models. This is causing the price of used cars to spike.
Consumers looking to purchase a car or truck at the moment should be prepared for higher prices at dealerships for both new and used vehicles. With people willing to pay full price and dealers not offering many incentives, purchasing a vehicle is getting pricey in 2021.
What to Know About Closing a Credit Card
Millions Are Holding on to Old Credit Cards
Millions of people are holding on to credit cards which are more than eight years old. There are a lot of reasons why many consumers don’t let go of credit cards. Some do it for sentimental reasons, while others simply forget about their credit cards or do not want to go through the hassle of closing them. People sometimes keep credit cards even if they have high fees or do not provide rewards.
Many consumers have paid down debt during the pandemic and are now wondering what to do with their credit cards. For people in this situation, there are a number of options.
Ask for a Product Change
Keeping an old credit card open can sometimes have benefits. It can keep utilization low, which is one of the factors that goes into a credit score. But keep in mind the annual fee that may be associated with the card: is it worth paying every year to keep the card open?
Before closing an account, it might be helpful to contact the credit card company to see if a better deal is available. There may be a card with no fees or with rewards. This is known in the industry as a “product change.” It simply means that details like the account number and available credit will stay the same, but fees and rewards may change.
Timing is Important
Timing is everything when it comes to closing a credit card. For people purchasing homes or applying for loans, it might be a good idea to wait to make big credit card changes until the deal closes. Lenders generally do not want to see many changes in a person’s credit score when underwriting a loan. When people close or cancel their old credit cards, their available credit can drop, which can cause their credit utilization to rise. This can impact their credit score.
People are paying down debt and re-examining their existing credit cards, leading many to close old accounts. While this could be a good financial decision, everyone’s personal financial situation is different. It’s important to do a little research and to think about timing.