iOS 14 just made your iPhone more private and secure: 3 things that changed
Apple has added some pretty stringent privacy controls to your iPhone and iPad. We'll tell you what you need to know.
Jason CiprianiContributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
There's even a new tool built into iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 that will help you catch an app snooping on your camera or microphone, and gone are the days of letting every app access your entire photo library.
Below I'll walk you through the key new privacy features and how to use them.
You no longer have to give apps your exact location
Up until iOS 14, when you approved an app's location request you were allowing it to see exactly where you were. But most apps will work just fine with your general location.
Location requests from websites in Safari are a prime example. Usually, it's some sort of retail business that makes the request so it can find stores near you. Instead of giving the site your address, providing it with your approximate whereabouts will still make it possible to find nearby stores, but you're not giving up private info.
The toggle in the new location request prompt is subtle, but it makes a big difference. In the top-left corner of the map overview is a button that has the label Precise: On. Tap it to switch it off, and you'll immediately see the map zoom out, representing the general area of your current location. That area is what the particular app will have access to.
If you change your mind about the setting at some point in the future, you can go into the Settings on your iPhone, then Privacy > Location Services and then select the app(s) you want to adjust whether or not they have access to your precise location.
You get to pick which photos an app has access to
This is by far my favorite privacy feature in iOS 14. Instead of either granting an app access to your entire photo library or nothing at all, you can now select specific photos and videos that the app will have access to. In essence, you have the option of creating a handpicked photo library for specific apps. Or, if you'd like, you can grant an app full access to your photo library like it's always had.
The first time an app tries to access your photo library on iOS 14, you'll see a prompt asking if you want to give access to Select Photos or Allow Access to All Photos.
Watch this: iOS 14 hands-on preview
If you choose Select Photos, you'll be asked to pick photos in your library. The next time that same app wants to access your photos, you'll be asked if you want to add more to its own specific library or leave it alone.
It's a bit of extra work, but for those who are careful about which apps have access to their photos and videos, it's a fantastic improvement on the old all-or-nothing approach.
At any time, you can go to Settings > Privacy > Photos to tweak your settings for individual apps.
With a new feature in iOS 14, you'll know whenever an app is accessing your microphone or camera. There's a new indicator that's shown just above the iPhone's signal meter. An orange dot tells you when an app is currently accessing your microphone, while a green dot indicates an app is accessing your camera.
If you see either color of dot, even if it shows up for a second and quickly disappears, open Control Center to view the name of the app along with a reminder of whether it was using your microphone or camera.
In my testing thus far, I've only seen either dot when I expected to see it -- orange when using the Memos app, and green when the camera is being used. If nothing else, it provides peace of mind that your conversations aren't secretly being listened to.