Privacy for Apple is more than a feature. There’s something very similar to accessibility. Its interest goes beyond a simple function to cover and we could say that we are talking about defining characteristics of its brand image . And for this they put a lot of effort into refining and refining these year after year.
When it comes to privacy, Apple has a clear goal of better protecting our data and making it clear that your product is not us and our data – it’s your devices. And they protect us from the ever-increasing abuse of unscrupulous developers who get rich with our data. And why not say it, they also educate us to give it the real importance that it has and that many times we do not give it .
In AppleComparison iOS 12 vs iOS 13: these are some of the differences between both versions
In this effort, this year Apple has taken a new and important step in one of the key functions that most tempt those developers who wish to profit indirectly from our data: the location .
This is how the location works now
If we develop apps for iOS systems, one of the first things we learn is that when we try to access some feature of the system that involves access to private data, Apple forces the app to request granular access .
What does that mean? It’s that alert that appears when an app first tries to access the microphone, or a Bluetooth device, or the camera, photo album, or location, among many other device features. Apple requires developers to provide a descriptive message in all languages of the app , which informs the user of the purpose of the app when accessing that feature. And this text is reviewed by Apple’s reviewers to approve the app or not once it has been submitted for publication.
If we don’t indicate a descriptive text for each feature of the device that affects privacy, the app will hang for security. And if the key has been entered but nothing has been indicated or no clear message has been given, Apple will reject the app.
Until now, the location permits were 2 degrees: use of location only within the app and use outside the app in the background . Depending on the supported iOS version we have different lines to include:
- NSLocationWhenInUseUsageDescription specifies the message when the app uses the location only when it is open.
- If we want to access this data also outside (in the background) we have to use NSLocationAlwaysAndWhenInUseUsageDescription.
- If our app supports iOS 10, in addition to these two, to use the location in the background when the app is closed, we must include this NSLocationAlwaysUsageDescription.
This way, if an app asks for permission to use the location it will do so in a single dialog by asking:
- Only when using the app
- Always allow
- Do not allow
Changes to iOS 13
In iOS 13, the option to “always allow” will disappear from that dialog when you update your device. Instead we will be asked:
- Allow when in use
- Allow only once
- Do not allow
As we can see, the “always” option is replaced by a “once only” in case it’s a point location like a tweet that we want to be geolocated or an Instagram image. But that’s it.
Labeling a location (for example) does not merit a “locate when app is in use” because jeopardizes our privacy and leaves the developer permission to “abuse” the opportunity we have given him by trusting him .
So what happens to apps that need to be located all the time, even when we’re in the background? You will have to ask for additional permission . When such an app (prior to being granted permission to use it within the app, otherwise it won’t be able to) tries to locate us in the background without the open app, it will cause the system to generate a new alert: allow XXXX to access your location? It will give the explanation that you have included the app below and we will have two options:
- Leave alone when used
- Keep allowing always.
This way, we’ll be much more aware of those apps that want to know more about us without having to .
If we want an app to be able to locate us at any time to offer us the restaurants with the best deals around us, we own our data. But let us be fully aware of this . Honestly, I prefer to be the one who, when I’m interested, starts the app to look for a restaurant.
But that’s not all: iOS 13 will keep track of how many times an app that we have previously given permission to use the location always makes use of that service . And every few days it will remind us: “The app XXXX has been using your location in the background”. And it will even tell us the number of times it has done so. In this reminder, it will give us the option to remove those permissions and make them only during use or keep them always.
Why does Apple do this? In my opinion, for education . Many times, and I’m the first one, we are not aware of the permissions we sometimes give to apps and, above all, we forget the ones we gave them. I am sure that these kinds of reminders and new improvements will come in future versions of iOS to other features beyond the localization.
The system will not allow apps to ask for permission to locate in the background of the foreground: it will be done in a second request. Also, it will remember every time which apps have permission in case we want to revoke it.
In my opinion, a permission to access the device photos only 1 time would be a function that would be very good to have . There are apps that don’t have to access our entire library as long as that permission remains in place. A new one-time access permission would be nice, not just for photos, but for many other functions. So would reminders for what apps we gave permission to and how much they’ve used that permission we gave them. I am convinced that it would make us much more responsible for our privacy and we would learn better how to manage it .