Apple refines location privacy in iOS 8 with new 'While Using' option

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2014
iPhone and iPad owners will have much more fine-grained control over their location privacy in iOS 8 thanks to new Location Services options that allow users to determine exactly when -- and if -- an app can find them.




In iOS 7, users could turn Location Services on or off on a per-app basis, but there was no way to control when the app could take advantage of that permission. Apple has expanded on that binary choice in iOS 8 and now allows users to grant location access to apps only when they are in the foreground.

The new "While Using" option -- known to developers as "WhenInUse" -- still lets apps use background location functionality, but it must be started by the user within the app -- for instance, a running app with When In Use authorization can track a user's progress while the app is in the background only after the user has explicitly told it to do so.

Alongside the new authorization level comes a number of changes to the way users are notified of location requests.




First, Apple now requires apps to explain why they are requesting the user's location in the initial authorization prompt. The built-in iOS 8 Photos app, for example, tells users that their "current location may be used to search for photos nearby" when requesting access.

Second, apps with "While Using" authorization will display a bar at the top of the screen when they are tracking the user, similar to the bar shown by VoIP or turn-by-turn navigation apps. Tapping the bar will take users to the app.

Third, users who grant apps "Always" access will be prompted to review the apps' authorization a few days later. The prompt will come in the form of a popup dialog that tells the user that the app has been using their location in the background and asks if they would like to continue allowing that to happen.

No matter their authorization level, apps will continue to trigger the Location Services arrow at the top of the display.

In closed sessions at this week's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple touted these changes as giving users "complete control of location usage." The moves -- which require minimal modifications by developers?--?appear to be fit into a broader push by Apple to give its customers more peace of mind as the company pushes into new areas.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Very nice
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Awesome I was always turning mine on and off cause something seemed to be running
  • Reply 3 of 15
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,022member
    Awesome changes. There's no way anyone can argue that apple doesn't take users privacy extremely seriously.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    joekewejoekewe Posts: 23member
    This is much bigger than privacy. GPS has always been a huge battery hog. Now we will have finer control over when apps can drain our batteries -- hopefully resulting in fewer upset noobs.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 691member
    Good job Apple! This allows further differentiation from Android's privacy suck.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Awesome!
  • Reply 7 of 15
    r00fusr00fus Posts: 245member
    Nice! Way to sandbox stuff like Waze - i'm happy broadcasting my location for the benefits Waze offers, but right now I always kill the app after I arrive at destination since it apparently sits there silently and tracks my location even if I'm not using it.

    Now, it'll only track location while I'm using it, even if it's backgrounded. Me likey
  • Reply 8 of 15
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member
    badmonk wrote: »
    Good job Apple! This allows further differentiation from Android's privacy suck.

    If somebody was concerned about privacy on Android:

    1. They can disable location per app;
    2. They can toggle whether specific apps or all apps cannot access any personal data besides their own;
    3. They can revoke various permissions on a per app basis;
    4. Android kills location for background processes by default;
    5. A user can toggle an option in Settings to prevent background processes from accessing the Internet.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,628member
    Great now, the app that will kill my battery opening certain things will stop.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    xpadxpad Posts: 46member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post





    If somebody was concerned about privacy on Android:



    1. They can disable location per app;

    2. They can toggle whether specific apps or all apps cannot access any personal data besides their own;

    3. They can revoke various permissions on a per app basis;

    4. Android kills location for background processes by default;

    5. A user can toggle an option in Settings to prevent background processes from accessing the Internet.

     

    Methinks you are using a custom ROM or a rooted device. Android most certainly does not provide this level of granularity in permissions.

     

    Unless you meant someone at Google, in which case they most certainly could have done those things, and should have done years ago.

  • Reply 11 of 15
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    negafox wrote: »
    If somebody was concerned about privacy on Android:

    1. They can disable location per app;
    2. They can toggle whether specific apps or all apps cannot access any personal data besides their own;
    3. They can revoke various permissions on a per app basis;
    4. Android kills location for background processes by default;
    5. A user can toggle an option in Settings to prevent background processes from accessing the Internet.

    Could you provide screenshots of all these 5 things?
  • Reply 12 of 15
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,907member
    xpad wrote: »
    Methinks you are using a custom ROM or a rooted device. Android most certainly does not provide this level of granularity in permissions.

    Unless you meant someone at Google, in which case they most certainly could have done those things, and should have done years ago.

    Android 4.3 did allow for highly granular control of permissions on a per-app basis. It was called AppOps. I used it on my Nexus7. The permissions panel options didn't continue into KitKat tho, at least on my Nexus. As a guess perhaps it caused more inadvertent device problems than benefits. Disabling some specific permissions in a particular application surely broke some of them. Too much control isn't necessarily a good thing and Apple certainly hasn't gone overboard with it. Baby steps.

    http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/25/app-ops-android-4-3s-hidden-app-permission-manager-control-permissions-for-individual-apps/
  • Reply 13 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,675member

    Excellent.  My bank doesn't need to know where I am on the off chance that I may need to find a branch. This should help battery life too.

  • Reply 14 of 15
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,350member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post



    5. A user can toggle an option in Settings to prevent background processes from accessing the Internet.

    I'd like the option of preventing individual apps from accessing the Internet anytime, not just in the background. The default for newly installed apps should be "No Internet".

    After that, I'd like a Little Snitch for iOS.

  • Reply 15 of 15
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 691member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post





    If somebody was concerned about privacy on Android:



    1. They can disable location per app;

    2. They can toggle whether specific apps or all apps cannot access any personal data besides their own;

    3. They can revoke various permissions on a per app basis;

    4. Android kills location for background processes by default;

    5. A user can toggle an option in Settings to prevent background processes from accessing the Internet.

    You are correct Negafox.  I meant to say "Google" in place of "Android"

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