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.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
maxresdefault

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Wallet Feature

Here's What's New in Apple Wallet on iOS 18 for Event Tickets and More

Friday June 14, 2024 7:32 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a handful of enhancements to the Wallet app on the iPhone, with new features for Apple Pay, Apple Cash, event tickets, and more. Below, we outline everything new for the Wallet app on iOS 18, based on information from Apple's press release and a WWDC 2024 coding session. Redesigned Event Tickets Event tickets have an all-new design in the Wallet app on iOS 18, complete...

Top Rated Comments

FaustsHausUK Avatar
62 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
62 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
62 months ago
a not so subtle way of getting rid of the competing encrypted messaging apps
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
62 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
62 months ago
Seems like a new API should be developed specifically for encryption key pushes
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xpxp2002 Avatar
62 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)