Tech

Is Facebook Listening to you? Apple’s next iPhone software will tell you!

It’s a very common question I get – “Is Facebook listening to my conversations?”. Because many people feel they are being presented with ads for things that not so long ago they were having a conversation about.

In all the years of questioning Facebook’s answer has been categorically no.  The app itself does ask for Microphone access when you first install it, but in reality this is because when you make a call or record a video using Facebook, it needs that permission.

However, many don’t believe it.  So, enter Apple’s latest Privacy update, the little orange dot!

If you’ve ever used a computer with a built in webcam you might notice a little green light that comes on when the webcam is in use.  It’s that concept which Apple is bringing to the iPhone via iOS 14, announced today at the opening Keynote of the 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Whenever an app is using your phone’s camera, a small green dot will appear – on the right hand side of the very top bar of your screen.

If the microphone is in use, an orange dot appears.

If you’re wondering which app is using these features of your phone, swipe down and your phone will show you which app is or has recently used either function.

In reality this is a very small feature, but it goes to the heart of Apple’s commitment to Privacy within their products.

For the next version of iOS this also includes a new option to share your general location, instead of your precise location.  This is an important differentiation for apps.  Some apps need to know exactly where you are – a navigation app for example.  But does a Weather app need to know this?  Or can it perform just as well with a general location – like “Suburb” – which Apple will present to the app based around an iconic location like government building or major intersection.

This protects your specific locations from apps that simply have no need for such detailed data.

Additionally, Apple is taking inspiration from food labelling to provide new privacy disclosures for apps in its App Store.  Just like you can glance at a food package to see the calories, sugar content and such things, new and updated apps in the App Store will show a simple “card” in the store showing the types of permissions and data access the app will request of you and might be sharing with other apps or companies.

These are just a few of the changes Apple is introducing with iOS 14, the company went to great lengths to highlight their commitment to privacy within this morning’s keynote presentation.

Is Facebook Listening to you? Apple’s next iPhone software will tell you!
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