The iOS 13 Privacy and Security Features You Should Know


Of course you want to share your photos with friends and family, but maybe you don’t want to share your home and office address with everyone you post a picture to. In iOS 13, when you share a picture through the Photos app, you’ll notice a new option to strip the location data before you send it.

Silence Unknown Callers

You can, if you want, route calls from unknown numbers straight to voicemail in iOS 13. The feature is a little smarter than you might think , though: A well as checking numbers in your Contacts app, it also looks through Mail and Messages for unsaved numbers that you might be familiar with. 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 probably not yet another spammer.

Find Devices Anywhere

You’ll notice a new Find My app on your iPhone after you install iOS 13, which helps you keep track of both your friends and your Apple devices, however you’ve mislaid them. As well as the features you’ll already be used to—being able to ring your iPhone remotely, for instance—the new app can even locate your devices when they’re not actively connected to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Screenshot: David Nield via Apple

This works via a very low-power Bluetooth signal emitted by your lost device. Apple creates an anonymous, invisible, secure scouting network from all the other Apple devices out there in the wild. If any of these devices detects your phone, you’ll get an update on where it is.

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 your liking. The feature is managed through the Safari section of Settings. Cross-site tracking, where ad networks can follow you across multiple sites, is now prevented by default too—in iOS 12, it was optional.

Keep Contacts More Private

There’s a small but perhaps significant change in the Contacts permission as well. Apps that get access to your list of contacts will no longer be able to read the notes field alongside each contact. If you’ve used these fields to record sensitive data—like your father’s PIN code or your real feelings towards your aunt—third-party apps will no longer be able to view them.

Block VoIP Apps From Collecting Data

In iOS 13, Voice-over-IP apps—those ones that let you make audio and video calls over the web—are no longer able to collect data in the background while they’re not running. While this data collection could ostensibly be used to connect calls faster if you didn’t have the relevant app open, it was also open to potential abuse. It’s expected that apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat will need to be redesigned as a result.

Encrypt HomeKit Video Streams

Part of the reason that there aren’t as many devices that work with HomeKit as with, say, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, is that Apple has some fairly restrictive rules that manufacturers need to meet. One of those, new in iOS 13, is the requirement that HomeKit-compatible security cameras must encrypt footage before it leaves your home, so no one else can see it.

Put HomeKit on Your Router

Another security feature introduced with HomeKit on iOS 13 is support for HomeKit-enabled routers. When these devices appear on the market, they’ll be able to isolate individual smart home devices, so if a malware infection should strike one of them, it won’t be able to spread to the others.


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