Private Messaging Apps 'Scrambling' to Overhaul Software Following Apple Privacy Changes

Apple in iOS 13 introduced a change that limits data collection practices using VoIP APIs, which has consequences for messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

According to a new report from The Information, the makers of encrypted messaging apps like Signal, Wickr, Threema, and Wire are now scrambling to overhaul their software to protect key privacy features that they believe may be compromised by the changes.

messagingapps
In a statement to The Information, an Apple spokesperson said that Apple is working with developers to alleviate their concerns.

"We've heard feedback on the API changes introduced in iOS 13 to further protect user privacy and are working closely with iOS developers to help them implement their feature requests."

Julia Weiss, a spokesperson for Threema, said that Apple's changes may actually result "in the opposite of the privacy goals the changes were supposed to achieve."

What Apple is doing is limiting the PushKit API, which was designed to be used for VoIP calls but over time, has also been used for other purposes such as collecting data and, in the case of messaging apps, encryption. In iOS 13, the PushKit API is limited to internet calls, with Apple eliminating its other uses.

Encrypted messaging apps currently use the VoIP APIs Apple is restricting for decrypting messages on the iPhone in the background, and the change disables that functionality.

App developers will be able to work around Apple's changes, but Tom Leavy, a VP at encrypted Messaging app Wickr said that it's a "significant engineering effort" that was unexpected. Makers of encrypted messaging apps are said to be exploring "alternative tools" in iOS to work, but they're said to be "way inferior" to the existing PushKit option.

Apple is giving app developers until April 2020 to comply with the changes to the PushKit API, but developers who want to update their apps for iOS 13 and take advantage of new features must follow PushKit restrictions sooner.

Top Rated Comments

FaustsHausUK Avatar
20 months ago
Unless I'm missing something, these app developers all used an API for something it was not intended for. Why is Apple the villain for locking that API down for its intended use only?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jhfenton Avatar
20 months ago
Telegram is the Tidal of messaging apps. Sounds good, no one cares.

Everyone either uses iMessage, Whatsapp and/or FB Messenger.
Some of us care. Some of us don't want anything to do with Facebook.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
20 months ago
a not so subtle way of getting rid of the competing encrypted messaging apps
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
20 months ago
Sketchy developers are in last min panic mode now
Wait. When did Signal, Threema, and the others become sketchy?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thisisnotmyname Avatar
20 months ago
Seems like a new API should be developed specifically for encryption key pushes
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xpxp2002 Avatar
20 months ago
That's fair. I don't use Telegram either. I just want there to be a reliable, trustworthy cross-platform alternative.
That’s Signal.

Don’t understand why anybody uses WhatsApp when Signal is built using the same well-vetted encryption library and is open-source, cross-platform, and has no connection to Facebook.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
apple transfer google photos 1

Apple Launches Service for Transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos

Wednesday March 3, 2021 12:04 pm PST by
Apple this week introduced a new service that's designed to make it quick and easy for iCloud users to transfer their stored photos and videos to Google Photos. As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple's privacy website and sign in to see the "Transfer a copy of your data" option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your iCloud photos and ...
imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
OLED iPad Pro and MacBook Pro

iPad and MacBook Models With OLED Displays Rumored to Launch in 2022

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:19 am PST by
Apple plans to release new iPad and MacBook models with OLED displays in 2022, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The information was shared in the site's paywalled "Before Going to Press" section, so there are no further details yet, but the full report should be released by tomorrow. Apple has gradually increased its adoption of OLED...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...