So, what’s the big deal with Apple’s iOS13 update besides Dark Mode and Apple Arcade? What’s with the latest fix that’s just been released – iOS13.1?
There’s a number of notable bug fixes and new security and privacy enhancements you should get familiar with, which are detailed below.
If you’re lucky enough to have a brand-new iPhone 11 or 11 Pro in your hands, you’ll already be enjoying all the new bells and whistles of iOS13, however there’s a new 13.1 update available to fix a few bugs and minor issues.
For those with older iPhones, you would have received a notification that the latest iOS13 upgrade is available, however now is the time to upgrade following the 13.1 bug fix release.
Head to Settings >> General >> Software Update to check.
So, what new iOS 13 privacy and security features are out?…
We take privacy seriously… sorry that should be SERIOUSLY!
So as a quick recap, for quite a while now – Apple have been advertising that they take customer privacy VERY seriously, and there’s a number of new iOS 13 features that demonstrate this is the case, and that they are heading down the right path. So let’s get into some of these below:
Granular Location Controls
In iOS12, you would have been familiar with the occasional pop-up reminding you which apps were tracking your location. In iOS 13, there’s more detail of the data that the app actually logs, as well as an explanation for why the app needs the data in the first place.
With iOS 13, apps are no longer allowed to request constant access to your location the first time you open them. Instead, you can pick from three different options, including “Allow location access while you’re using app”, “Allow once” or “Don’t allow” it at all. So, in addition to being able to grant permission all the time or only when an app is running, you can now also allow it just once on a temporary basis. The next time the app needs your location, it’ll have to ask for it again. A handy feature in some circumstances.
In the first version of iOS13, some users discovered that the “Location” privacy setting which requests access to your device’s location data – is being automatically reset from “Never” to “Ask Next Time” for some apps. Oops.
Apple has assured customers that the bug is fixed in the latest iOS 13.1 update, which is being rolled out globally from September 24.
If you’re struggling to get your apps to accept your location data privacy settings, be sure to download the 13.1 update as soon as it’s available for you.
With the latest version of iOS 13.1 installed, if you know you want an app to always have access to your whereabouts, simply go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and tap the applications name to white-list it. If you change your mind about a permission setting, head to the same section where you can either give it location access or just shut it off.
Apple has also made changes to ensure you can see how often an application accesses your location, by giving a periodic alert that includes a map of all the places an app has checked your location in the background. It also asks if you want to keep the application location settings the same. When you see a map of your location it really makes you stop and think, and reconsider what privacy options you allow.
Check your location settings!
it’s a really good idea to review your location services app settings from time to time to be safe anyhow.
One of the most talked about new iOS13 features is “Silence Unknown Callers”
You can, if you want, redirect phone calls from unknown numbers straight to your voicemail in iOS13.
The feature is a little smarter than many realise as it checks phone numbers in your contacts app, and also looks through mail and messages for any unsaved numbers. Also, when calls are carrier-verified as genuine and not spoofed, you’ll see a tick next to the number to let you know it’s possibly not a scammer.
A very handy feature – if like me, you get a lot of sales / recruitment calls from unknown numbers!
Sneaky Wi-Fi tracking – privacy changes
Prior to iOS13, some of the sneakier apps were able to track your location without actually asking for permission to do so. Instead, they would log the public Wi-Fi networks you were near to as you passed by. This sneaky trick has now been disabled in iOS 13. There’s no option for it or a setting to change, and the privacy feature is baked in automatically.
Sneaky Bluetooth Access
Some apps never request access to your location, but that doesn’t stop them from using known nearby Bluetooth devices to get an approximate location. One example of how this is used is where some stores and shopping centers use Bluetooth beacons to track the movement of customers so that they can enhance the design of the shop layout to increase sales. Sneaky hey!?
With iOS13.1, you’ll receive a prompt that requests access to your iPhone or iPad’s Bluetooth functionality the first time you open an app. You’ll be surprised at the number of apps that request Bluetooth access – which may not actually need it in the first place.
So, to check, you can check to see what apps you have given Bluetooth access in iOS13 by going to Bluetooth access in Settings > Privacy > Bluetooth.
Obviously, products and services like “Tile App” need Bluetooth connectivity – so be sure to double check what you disable.
Your contacts are more private
There’s a small but potentially significant change in the contacts permission as well. Applications that get access to your list of contacts will no longer be able to read the notes field associated with each contact.
If you’ve used these fields to record sensitive data like a PIN code, your apps will no longer be able to view them. Most people don’t even know about this data access in the first place, so is good that it’s been fixed.
Sign in with Apple ID
Another new feature is that you can now sign in to apps and services using your Apple ID, rather than only having the option of using Facebook, Twitter, and Google to sign in.
“Sign in with Apple” is similar to Facebook and Google’s sign-in buttons, but with Apple’s approach of not tracking and storing user data for selling adverts. Apple also randomly generates an email address for you to use when you sign up and log in to apps. This saves you from getting spam sent to your real email inbox and keeps you from having to create fake email accounts to protect your privacy and keep unwanted emails away.
Set permissions for individual websites
Safari for iOS 13 now lets you control access to the camera, the microphone, and your current location on a site-by-site basis. If you’re happy about some sites getting access to these permissions but not others, you can tailor it to suit your needs.
You can check and change these settings by opening Settings >> Safari >> and check the various options there.
Cross-site tracking, where ad networks can follow you across multiple sites, is now prevented by default. It was an optional feature in iOS 12.
There’s more coming!
There are a number of additional security and privacy features that I haven’t covered in this article, however, for now, these are the main call outs that most should become more familiar with.
I’ll potentially cover more related privacy and security features over the coming weeks based on demand / discussions.
Questions / comments / opinions?
So what new Apple iOS13.1 security or privacy features do you like, or want the most?
Feel free to leave comments below.