In-App Account Deletion: What You Need to Know

Written by
Jenny Karkowski

Published on April 11, 2022

On the go? This Constant Variables podcast episode hits all the highlights of what you need to know about adding an account deletion option to your app.

Have an iOS app that allows for account creation and therefore collects user data? Come June 30, 2022, your app must allow users to delete the information you’ve collected on them.

Maybe you already have a process for deleting a user’s account if they contact you directly or visit your website. Per Apple’s new guideline, iOS apps must now have a way to initiate the deletion process from within the app.

Here’s a few things to consider when making this change to your app:

Why is Apple requiring apps to have an account deletion feature?

Among the major tech giants, Apple has taken the biggest stance on protecting user privacy.

Last year, they required iOS apps to ask permission before tracking user activity across other companies' apps and websites with their App Tracking Transparency rule.

This requirement gave users more control of what data was collected on them without inhibiting their experience. Regardless of whether a user chooses to allow an app to track their activity, apps are required to let users still use the full capabilities of the app.

Apple’s latest account deletion requirement gives users even more control over the information collected on them by saying, “Hey, if a user can create an account on an app, they also need to be able to delete an account on an app.”

Should I add an account deletion feature to my Android app too?

Having consistent features between your iOS and Android app makes for a great user experience, and adding an account deletion option to your Android app shows your company cares about giving all users control of their data, regardless of platform.

But adding an account deletion feature within your app isn’t free, and the cost to do so per app will depend on the app’s complexity and your use of 3rd party integrations for storing user data.

What happens if my app doesn’t comply by Apple’s deadline?

We have some historical precedence here. With previous deadlines Apple’s put in place, like the ad tracking example mentioned earlier, Apple has allowed a grace period before auditing apps and removing them from the App Store.

What’s most likely to happen is at some point after the deadline, if you go to push an app to the App Store for review, Apple will reject it if the app doesn’t include an account deletion feature. This means that without an account deletion feature in your app, you can’t push live other new features or bug fixes either.

What does it really mean to delete user data?

If you put a big, bold DELETE button in your app, someone will inherently push it without meaning to. Deleting user information is a big deal and not something you want to happen accidentally.

While it’s important the account deletion option is easy to find within your app, it’s equally important to provide additional support flows to confirm the account deletion process, especially for apps in highly-regulated industries with legal requirements around storing and retaining user account information.

This doesn’t mean the account deletion process can be used as a psychological trick to keep people in your app. Apple directly states in its guideline that “it’s insufficient to only provide the ability to temporarily disable or deactivate an account. People should be able to delete the account along with their personal data.” (Looking at you, Facebook.)

How do I find a tech team or a developer who can add an account deletion feature to my app?

Our team has created a lot of great content around how to find a good tech team:

  • 22 Questions to Ask a Development Team: Drawing on our decade-long experience building iOS and Android apps and custom mobile software, we put together a free guide full of questions to ask when you’re interviewing teams for your project. Download the guide here:
  • Development Team Options for Your Business: There are 4 main routes you can take as far as finding mobile app development resources: DIY, freelance, full-time staff, and agencies. This blog post reviews the pros and cons of each. Read it here:
  • Vetting a Tech Partner’s Posture: While there probably isn’t a single Constant Variables episode that doesn’t touch on the subject of hiring a development team, this one with George Brooks of Crema and Tim Bornholdt of The Jed Mahonis Group shares what questions to ask when meeting with an agency, what red flags to look out for, and why a small team can accomplish 10x what a large, siloed team typically can. Listen to it here:

The deadline for adding an account deletion feature to your app is June 30th, 2022. Full details can be found on Apple’s website.

If you come across this blog post after the deadline and find your app is stuck in iOS review because of it, give us a shout. We know the intricacies of dealing with Apple, and we’ve never had an App Store rejection we couldn’t solve. A quick, 15-minute call with our team will give you an idea of the cost and timeline associated with adding an account deletion button and process to your company’s app.

Learn more about what it's like to work with us and how much it costs to hire a digital product agency.

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