As Apple continues its privacy march, the upcoming iOS 13 mobile update will be right there, and it’s pulling tracking apps along.
Apple showed off iOS 13 last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Beta testers at 9to5Mac have discovered that the upcoming release, now in preview, will tell you what apps are tracking you in the background and will give you the option of switching them off. Ditto for iPadOS.
The new feature comes in the form of a map that displays how a given app – 9to5mac showed screenshots of popup notifications about tracking apps from Tesla and the Apple Store – has been tracking you in the background, as in, when you’re not actually using the app.
iOS 13 now shows a map of where apps have been tracking you when requesting permission https://t.co/hyMm9qLhxO by @ChanceHMiller pic.twitter.com/3NF0f4SwmB— 9to5Mac.com (@9to5mac) June 8, 2019
The notifications show a map of the specific location data a given app has tracked, displaying the snail-slime trails that we all leave behind in our daily travels and which so many apps are eager to sniff at for marketing purposes.
Or for other reasons, as well. Besides the map, the popups will also provide the app’s rationale for needing access to a user’s background location.
Tesla uses your location to show your proximity to your vehicle (while the app is open), and to optimize phone key on your support vehicles (while the app is in the background).
And the Apple Store app’s explanation:
We’ll provide you with relevant products, features, and services depending on where you are.
The notifications offer the option to keep giving a specific app background access to your location or to change it to “only while using.”
iOS 13, which Apple says will be available as a public beta next month, will also offer users the option to give apps access to location “just once,” instead of continuous background access or the constant access an app wants when in use.
You won’t see these notifications on Apple’s other platforms, given that you don’t need them. tvOS doesn’t support always-on location gathering, macOS doesn’t have Always or WhenInUse because prompting of the user is automatic, and Apple says watchOS doesn’t need it, according to 9to5mac.
Meanwhile, in other “stop these tracking apps!” news…
On Monday at WWDC, Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi also said that Apple was “shutting the door” on developers’ “abuse” of location data by instead using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network details to estimate users’ locations.
Federighi unveiled a new version of its Find My device feature onstage, saying that the new tool can track the location of iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 Catalina devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi even when they’re offline.
As AppleInsider reports, the new technology relies on crowdsourcing from Apple’s massive user install base, sending out Bluetooth beacon signals that are picked up by nearby iOS or Mac devices, which then pass on a found device’s identifier and their own location information back to Apple for later access by Find My users.
Every step of the data’s journey is encrypted, Federighi said, thereby protecting users’ privacy:
This whole interaction is end-to-end encrypted and anonymous. It uses just tiny bits of data that piggyback on existing network traffic so there’s no need to worry about your battery life, your data usage or your privacy.
5 comments on “iOS 13 will map the apps that are tracking you”
I was thinking, wow this is really good. Score for Apple. Then, I stopped and just looked at: “the new tool can track the location of iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 Catalina devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi even when they’re offline.”
“even when they’re offline” what?!!! what kind of devil wizardry is this?
Go read the ARS technica article on how this works
Apple has essentially removed the functionality of the off switch for wifi and Bluetooth, leaving them on and constantly logging what networks and devices are around you, even when switched “off.” They’ve even gone so far as to remove status bar indicators from ios devices that remind users that Bluetooth is constantly running in background. Their excuse “Wifi and Bluetooth hardly use power, so we think everyone will love being able to connect to everything wireless at any time,” while not publicizing that it’s a tracking mechanism. Android and Google devices do the same. With accelerometer, compass, and barometric data included, you could be completely tracked without ever using GPS. What if you have airplane mode on? It collects and stores the logs until you connect to cellular or wifi in the future. Don’t believe it? Airplane mode a spare device for a few days and keep an eye on free disk space decreasing, then reconnect and watch free space increase as it unloads the location data.
> Apple has essentially removed the functionality of the off switch for wifi and Bluetooth, leaving them on and constantly logging what networks and devices are around you, even when switched “off.”
Actually that’s not how this works. iOS has a soft-off function for WiFi and Bluetooth. When you turn off Bluetooth from the Control Center your device disconnects from any accessory it’s connected to, except for Apple Watch, Instant Hotspot, Apple Pencil, and Continuity features, like Handoff. As for WiFi, it disconnects from any network that you are connected to. Both options are then “turned on” to accept connections automatically after 12 hours.
Also when you turn those settings off from the Settings app, then they are turned off for good.
> They’ve even gone so far as to remove status bar indicators from ios devices that remind users that Bluetooth is constantly running in background.
So they are now showing the icon when you have a device connected through Bluetooth. I.e showing the Bluetooth icon when necessary instead of cluttering the status bar with unnecessary icons. Same as location icon when your location does get used and same as WiFi icon when you are actually connected to a WiFi and not just have that option enabled.
> Their excuse “Wifi and Bluetooth hardly use power, so we think everyone will love being able to connect to everything wireless at any time,” while not publicizing that it’s a tracking mechanism
No, their excuse is “for the best experience on your iOS device”. Also they show you a heads-up display asking for your permission to use those features at every chance they get in every single app, so how is that not a “publicizing that it’s a tracking mechanism”? In fact if any app tries to access those features without the proper heads-up display and user agreement, the app will crash by default. It’s embedded in the iOS system and cannot be bypassed unless of course you have jailbroken your device, but that’s on you.
> What if you have airplane mode on? It collects and stores the logs until you connect to cellular or wifi in the future. Don’t believe it? Airplane mode a spare device for a few days and keep an eye on free disk space decreasing, then reconnect and watch free space increase as it unloads the location data.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one and say only half true. This all depends on the apps that you have downloaded on your device. Some apps store data locally when you’re not connected to a WiFi and as a result your disk space gets full. It doesn’t have to necessarily be Apple tracking your location.
It is a good initiative taken by Apple, this thing helps the user to understand which third party app tracks the data and where it been tracked. Nowadays everyone one wants to prevent their data from the hackers and apple comes with that type of solution and for these type of solution day by day the ios user increases rapidly.