At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple announced a flurry of new privacy features and settings with the new iOS updates. The new updates range from giving users more control over what data apps access, an orange light showing when your phone’s camera or microphone is activated, transparency in what apps are collecting locational data and more. Apple is looking to be the example of data privacy for big-tech companies with more and more people growing concerned and aware about how these giants use our data.
The newest iOS 14 updates allow you to limit how much geolocational data is shared with apps. Now your phone will only allow approximate locational data to be collected rather than your exact location. Apple also introduced recording indicators on your status bar via an orange dot that will tell you when your camera or microphone is turned on by an app. According to Apple’s User Privacy and Data Use Post, “The App Store will help users understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app. On each app’s product page, users will be able to learn about some of the data types an app may collect, and whether the information is used to track them or is linked to their identity or device.” So Apple has created almost like a nutritional label or Surgeon General’s Warning for apps that clearly indicate to the user what data will be collected.
Apple’s biggest announcement was a change in how data tracking works in the new iOS update. Instead of users having to opt-out of tracking by apps, now iOS 14 requires apps to get users to opt-in before they collect any of their data. Unless you specifically give consent to an app, the app will not be able to use your data for targeted advertising, share your location data with marketers, share your ad ID or any other identifiers with third party advertisers. Apple also stated, until the user gives direct consent, the device’s advertising identifier value will be all zeros.
Apple also announced similar features to be introduced to their Safari browser. They’ve created a new “Privacy Report” button which will show users what data and information third parties collect and use to track you and allow the user to easily block them. Safari will also be adding more protection features against browser extensions, which last week’s Loginhood Chrome article showed extensions can access a lot more information than what you originally downloaded them for. Some of these features allow users more control over the extensions, like what domains the extensions can be used on and when the extensions are active and for how long.
Apple’s new announced iOS features are all centered around one simple idea, promoting user privacy. If these new updates do provide the security and transparency that Apple is promising, it will promote consumer trust in a time when it seems like everything is listening. If you update to iOS 14 make sure to look out for these specific features to make sure your data is safe on your phone.