IPhone maker Apple has just announced a new feature in its upcoming iOS 13 that could pose major issues for messaging and calling apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp. In the interest of privacy, Apple’s updated version of its operating system will not let apps run voice over internet protocol (VoIP) in the background when programs are not actively in use, according to news site The Information.
And many apps offering these sorts of services do run in the background so, they claim, they can connect calls quickly. But this also means the apps can collect information on what people are doing on their devices.
Because it will no longer allow apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp to do this on devices such as iPhones and iPads, the move will mark a major change in how they are run. In fact, they will need to be rewritten in order to comply with Apple’s new rules by the time iOS 13 comes out this September.
App developers have until April 2020 to comply with the new rules. Facebook told The Information that it was in talks on how it would proceed following the change.
Apple has been focusing on user privacy as it looks to differentiate itself from rivals such as Google and Facebook. This saw it run a billboard advert earlier this year which read: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”
However, it also came under fire last month after it emerged that Apple contractors were listening in to Siri calls.
Apple’s iOS 13: A serious privacy improvement
IOS 13 reflects Apple’s increasing focus on user privacy. It features one-time location sharing, while the “Sign in with Apple” feature has been praised by many–although it was also criticized by one organization.
The latest change marks another blow in an ongoing rivalry between Apple and Facebook. In January, Apple removed Facebook’s certificate for its Enterprise Developer Program after it was found to be distributing apps that monitored people’s activity.
Ethical hacker John Opdenakker says because users will be able to see when an app is running, it will be “a serious privacy improvement.”
Independent security researcher Sean Wright agrees. “It’s encouraging to see some companies at least focus on their users’ privacy.
“Hopefully this change will also apply pressure on companies who have previously not paid much attention to user privacy, getting them to now start doing so. I’m hoping that Google takes heed and does something similar on Android.”
Given that Apple is a pioneer in the industry, cybersecurity expert at ESET Jake Moore says the move “makes it far easier to roll out these security and privacy changes in other companies.”
It’s true that Apple is often a first mover in the technology space. Let’s hope other companies will follow suit to help users take greater control of their security and privacy.
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