Apple locks down unknown VoIP pleasures
Apple continues to drive forward its security credentials with news it will limit background access for Voice over IP (VoIP) apps running on iPhones and iPads.
What are they doing?
At issue is the behaviour of such apps, which need to be left in continuously running in the background in order to answer and alert you to incoming calls.
This active state is why you can make voice calls just like normal voice calls using VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and others.
The problem with leaving apps in this state is that you don’t know what else they are doing in the background – or what data they are collecting (and sharing) – which is something Apple wants to limit in line with its privacy stance.
The behaviour also cuts into battery life.
You can check to what extent it does in Settings>Batteryin the Usage section, where you’ll often find messaging and social media apps high in the list of battery consuming apps.
Because they do so much in the background. Particularly Facebook… (which is why I prefer to use a browser to access the place for
Just say no
The good news is that The Information tells us Apple will restrict such background access for VoIP apps starting in iOS 13.
This is going to mean that Facebook will have to fix its messaging apps to not use the background mode in order to work, particularly WhatsApp, which uses this for encryption.
(Facebook Messenger does not encrypt messages. You should avoid using it.)
The bad news?
In order to give developers a chance to make any changes they need to make to their apps, Apple won’t be imposing these changes until April 2020.
This potentially means that less ethical developers will attempt to gather as much data as they can in advance of then – so watch what you install.
Gimme convenience, but not at the expense of privacy
Ultimately, these steps are very much in line with Apple’s focus on ensuring developers offering apps that boost “convenience” aren’t doing so at the expense of your privacy, at least, not on Apple’s platforms.
I very much get the impression Apple’s teams are exploring every nook and cranny of the company’s operating systems to identify and address these and other privacy-eroding practises.
And I think that’s a jolly good thing!