Right from the start, Apple has ensured its users that it cares about their privacy. The company has also spent a lot of time and resources in driving home this message. The CEO, Tim Cook, even called on the US Congress to evaluate and change the country’s privacy laws. Now, with the new iOS 13 and iPadOS, Apple added new privacy features.
If you’re getting the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or the iPhone 11 Pro Max, iOS 13 comes preinstalled. The software update is also available for iPhone 6S and newer iPhone models.
The new privacy and security features iOS 13 provides give you much more control over how often apps can access your location. It also offers ways to stop apps from scanning nearby Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks to guess your location. This is a new sign-in method for third-party apps and expanded HomeKit security features.
1. Control location access by apps
The new update no longer allows apps to request constant access to your location when you first open them. Instead, it gives you three different options: allow location access while you’re using an app, allow once or don’t allow it at all. This is different from the former options: never allow location access while using the app, only allow access while using the app, or always allow location. Picking Allow Once will give the app your location data. However, the next time the app wants to access your location, you’ll be prompted again.
To find out and control which apps have access to your whereabouts, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and tap the app’s name to change the settings. Ensure to check through this list of apps from time to time.
Apple also gives a periodic alert that includes a map of all the places an app has checked your location in the background and asks if you want to keep the apps’ settings how they are. It shows you how often and where an app is checking your location. The eye-opening map is a way to get people to take the prompts more seriously instead of just dismissing them.
2. Stop Bluetooth-snooping
Not all sneaky apps will request access to your location. However, but that doesn’t stop them from using known nearby Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth devices to get a good idea of where you’re at. Now, when you first open an app, iOS 13 now sends you a prompt that requests access to your iPhone or iPad’s Bluetooth functionality.
While there are apps you do not want to have access to your Bluetooth at all, some apps need access to your Bluetooth to function optimally. Using this software update, you’d be surprised how many apps request Bluetooth access that may not actually need it. To view a list of apps that have requested Bluetooth access, go to Settings > Privacy > Bluetooth.
3. Also, stop Wi-Fi-snooping apps
Only apps you grant location access to will be able to use your Wi-Fi network information on iOS 13 or iPadOS. This is apart from VPN (virtual private network) apps or apps that configure and use a nearby hotspot (such as setting up a smart home accessory that creates its own temporary Wi-Fi network). Asides this, apps can’t see which Wi-Fi networks you connect to.
4. Sign in with Apple
iOS 13 also puts you in charge of apps that want to scan for nearby Bluetooth devices. Asides enhanced location privacy features in iOS 13 and iPadOS, there’s a new Sign in with Apple feature you’ll begin to see in apps now that iOS is out.
Sign in with Apple is similar to Facebook and Google’s sign-in buttons, but with Apple’s approach of not tracking and storing user data for selling ads. Apple will even randomly generate an email address for you to use when you sign up and log in to apps.
This spares you from getting spam sent to your own inbox and keeps you from having to create a fake account to protect your privacy and keep unwanted emails away.
5. Improved HomeKit
Outside of iOS, Apple also announced that its smart home platform HomeKit is gaining support for secure routers and encrypted home security cameras. The new routers will add a firewall layer to your smart home devices, and give you complete control over which devices can communicate with each other.
Furthermore, HomeKit cameras will soon have encrypted video capabilities and iCloud storage. Currently, many smart home video cameras upload unencrypted videos to their respective servers for storage and analyzing. With HomeKit Secure Video, all uploaded video will be encrypted and no one will be able to view it.
Asides privacy and other security features, Apple’s iOS 13 also has plenty of new features. It offers a way to block unknown callers and a new gesture-based keyboard. There is also a respectable number of hidden iOS 13 and iPadOS features.