The launch of Apple’s annual updates to its operating systems is always a highly anticipated event. And this year came with a few surprises. For starters, it was not paired as usual with the release of a new iPhone. But the biggest plot twist was its swift arrival, just one day after Apple’s September product announcement.
Major iOS 14.0 and iPadOS 14.0 software updates were rolled out to iPhone 6s and later, iPod touch 7th generation, iPad Air 2 and later, and iPad mini 4 and later. This latest update brought a new look to the home screen, a slew of security patches, and more, making what some say is the most secure iOS to date. We take a closer look at the top new privacy features of iOS 14 for iPhones and iPads and break down what each one does.
Mic and camera access light indicator
Although it was already possible to choose which apps have permission to access your mic and camera, iOS 14 takes it one step further. The latest update has a recording indicator feature, a real-time notification whenever an app captures audio or video from your iPhone. An orange dot will display in the status bar whenever an app accesses your microphone, and a green dot will appear when an app accesses your camera.
It also provides a list of apps that have recently accessed your phone’s mic or camera appear at the top of the Control Center. However, the list only appears after the fact, so its usefulness is debatable.
Limited photos access
With iOS 14 users have more choice than “all or nothing” when it comes to allowing apps to access their complete library of stored photos. Now users can choose specific photos or albums to give an app access to while the others remain inaccessible.
Approximate location and local network access control
In another move to give users more control over the data they want to share, iOS 14 has two new options. First, users can now give apps access to their approximate location instead of giving out their exact physical address. And as long as we are on the topic, you might read this blog post with further tips for stopping your iPhone from leaking location data. Second, users are now notified if an app is trying to connect to devices on their local network and can choose a “Don’t allow” option to prevent this from happening.
Better Wi-Fi privacy
Apple is now offering improved privacy on Wi-Fi, too. By default, iOS 14 will randomly generate a MAC that’s unique to a given network, giving it a “private address.” If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can disable the feature by turning off Private Address in the SSID settings.
Copy and paste clipboard notification
The new iOS 14 clipboard notification comes just in time considering it was recently revealed that some popular apps were secretly taking a peek when copying and pasting text on your smartphone. Now users receive a notification each time an app accesses the clipboard, meaning you’ll know when the sensitive information you might store there, like passwords and other credentials, could potentially be compromised. Another reason this feature is especially important is that iOS also has access to the clipboards of any nearby Macs connected to the same iCloud account.
App store privacy disclosure
With iOS 14, the App store product pages will now feature a privacy information section. This means app developers must disclose what their privacy practices are, including how they collect user data from users and what they do with it. Apple also intended to have this information made more available to users with the new “app tracking controls and transparency” feature.
Unfortunately, this feature (found in the Privacy settings) won’t be put into practice until 2021 due to complaints from developers. Eventually, it will require app developers to gain user consent before tracking their activity on third-party apps or websites.
New privacy and security features in Safari
Considering the attention Apple is paying towards tracking, it’s probably not a surprise they added a new privacy feature to Safari as well. Users can now get a Safari Privacy Report displaying all the cross-site trackers that Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention blocked. If you’re curious to know more about why web tracking is such a big deal to online privacy, read this blog article.
Security has also been upgraded in Safari with the inclusion of Password Monitoring. The new feature monitors saved passwords, checking regularly to see if any have been involved in a data breach.
Fully protect the privacy of your mobile devices
The new iOS 14.0 and iPadOS 14.0 features certainly make for one of the most private and secure versions to date but to be fully protected, it’s recommended to install a dedicated privacy and security app on your mobile devices. Avira Mobile Security for iOS is a free, all-in-one app that offers comprehensive protection. Besides blocking threats and scams, you can securely connect to public Wi-Fi with its VPN. Also, the app’s Privacy Manager ensures that Siri doesn’t wind up accidentally recording your private conversations.