iOS 14 Privacy: Users Can Give Apps Access to Limited Selection of Photos

A new privacy feature in iOS 14 enables users to give an app access to a limited number of photos, instead of having to hand over the keys to their entire photo library.

The new app permissions feature was spotted in the iOS 14 beta by Benedict Evans, who shared a couple of screenshots of it in action.


When an app requests access to photos on a device, the user can now choose from three options: Select Photos…, Allow Access to All ‌Photos‌, or Don't Allow.

An iOS privacy awareness pane explains it like so:

Your photos and memories are personal. Apple's new privacy controls let you decide what photos and videos you share. When an app asks for permission to access your photo library, you have the choice to select specific items or allow access to all photos and videos.

The change is a nice improvement to the current binary option of either denying an app access to your photos or allowing it to get at your entire library of images. It should come in especially handy for when users want to give an app one-off access to a single photo, for example.

Apple has been keen to promote the new privacy features coming in iOS 14. Other iOS 14 privacy highlights covered at WWDC 2020 include the ability to give an app your approximate location instead of your precise location, App Store privacy lists for all apps, clipboard restrictions, and camera and microphone access attempt notifications.

Top Rated Comments

xpxp2002 Avatar
21 months ago

Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “white to” priclidges to photos while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library.
Came here to say this. Write only access for apps that can save photos, but have no business looking at your other photos.

I suppose you could put a “dummy” photo in your library, set the app permission to only read that blank photo, and it’ll still be allowed to write new photos.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
audiophilosophy Avatar
21 months ago
Finally! Long overdue. Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “write to” privileges to the stock Photos app while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library. For example, it annoys me that in order to let my eufy security cam app have the functionality to save recordings to Photos, I have to grant the app privileges to acces my whole Photos app library. The eufy app only needs “write to” privileges to my Photos! While watching all the improvements that Apple debuts the last few years to iOS, I can’t help but think that none of these new features should be new. They should have been correct right from the beginning, but they weren’t. Apple’s just patching stupidity they built into their products. There’s nothing innovative or revolutionary about that. And Tim Cook’s PR campaign that Apple cares more about your privacy really doesn’t hold up when the company, for many years, has granted 3rd party apps full (non-customizable) access to your entire Photos library. When I give Facebook messenger app access to my mic and camera, why can’t I set it to have access only when the app is open— and how is Apple assuring me that the app isn’t accessing the mic and camera while it’s running in the background? Because of things like this, I have stopped buying what Apple says about caring deeply about user privacy— it’s just a marketing angle that isn’t backed up with real actions that matter. I dumped all my shares of aapl Monday evening. The company is directionless and just trying to maintain where Steve Jobs left off.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
D.T. Avatar
21 months ago

You mean this entire time, apps were able to view any photos in our library? My understanding of how the picker worked was that the photo library pop up was iOS and once you selected a photo, it uploaded that into the app. I even vaguely recall Steve on stage talking about it.
It's two discrete considerations: one is a picker that invokes the file / image browser, the other is app level access to the photos library (which you explicitly allow via the prompt / privacy for 3rd party apps).

So like Chrome on my iPad doesn't have specific photos access, yet I can still open photos to choose a pic to upload, but Twitter has read/write access, so technically it can add a photo, or read any photo from my entire library (which, come to think of it ... is creepy ... o_O ) So an app, without photos permission, can still do things like open a file picker to upload something like a profile photo, but it doesn't have any persistent access after that operation.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
urtules Avatar
21 months ago

So an app, without photos permission, can still do things like open a file picker to upload something like a profile photo
Sadly only few apps took advantage of the system picker, I blogged about this: "How iOS Developers Lie with Photo Permissions Dialog." ('https://cocoaswitch.com/2018/07/15/photo-picker/')
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
21 months ago
I wish iOS allowed a pin code to view the photos app. Also I wish photos saved from the web went into a special folder and not the camera roll.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
21 months ago
Hopefully this also applies to the camera as well. Some of my apps require you to take a selfie before continuing to make sure its you. After I take the selfie I have to go in and disable camera access each time.

Been using the hidden folder to hide photos that contain ID and and account information. Now with this new feature I don't have to wonder if these apps are rifling thru my photos or even the thumbnails.

Would be neat to have an advanced audit feature where you could look at a log of all the photo/mic/location/data an app has viewed/copied to itself and when.

I disable a lot of apps cellular data to stop ads and phoning home, would be nice to also block WiFi access too.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature Red

AirPods Pro 2 Could Start a New Accessory Ecosystem

Friday January 14, 2022 2:34 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could arrive alongside a new series of accessories, recent leaked images suggest. Alleged leaked photos of the next-generation AirPods Pro obtained by MacRumors showed a charging case with a metal loop on the side for attaching a strap. Apple has not used this design for any of its other AirPod models and it is unclear why it would be added in this...
netflix2

Netflix Again Raises Prices for All Plans, 4K Streaming Now $20 Per Month

Friday January 14, 2022 12:46 pm PST by
Netflix today updated the prices for its streaming plans, and all of its offerings are now more expensive. The Basic plan is now priced at $9.99 per month, the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 per month, and the Premium plan is priced at $19.99 per month. The Basic plan is $1 more expensive, up from $8.99 per month. This plan allows users to watch on just one screen at a time, and it limits ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole 16x9 120hz

Analyst: All iPhone 14 Models to Feature 120Hz Displays, 6GB of RAM, and More

Friday January 14, 2022 7:02 am PST by
Apple is rumored to announce four new iPhone 14 models in September, and ahead of time, analyst Jeff Pu has outlined his expectations for the devices. In a research note with Haitong International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Pu claimed that all iPhone 14 models will feature ProMotion displays, compared to only Pro models currently. ProMotion enables a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz ...
ios 15

Apple Releases Minor iOS 15.2.1 and iPadOS 15.2.1 Updates

Wednesday January 12, 2022 10:05 am PST by
Apple today released minor 15.2.1 updates for iPhone and iPad users, and the software comes one month after Apple launched iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2 with a slew of improvements. The iOS 15.2.1 and iPadOS 15.2.1 update can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General >...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With LG's 32-Inch UltraFine OLED Pro Display

Wednesday January 12, 2022 1:12 pm PST by
LG in December announced the launch of its new 2022 32-inch UltraFine OLED Pro display, and in our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with it to see how it compares to Apple's Pro Display XDR and whether it might be worth picking up depending on the price point. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Officially named the "32BP95E," the display features a resolution of ...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo Orange

Next iPad Pro Might Feature Large Glass Apple Logo to Allow Wireless Charging

Friday January 14, 2022 10:44 am PST by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu last year reported that Apple had tested a new iPad Pro with a glass back for wireless charging capabilities. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said he expects the new iPad Pro to be released in 2022. While the new iPad Pro is still on track to feature wireless charging, 9to5Mac's Filipe Espósito today reported that Apple may have ultimately...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole

iPhone 14 Pro Now Rumored to Feature Both Pill-Shaped and Circular Cutouts

Wednesday January 12, 2022 9:26 am PST by
Apple is widely expected to remove the notch on iPhone 14 Pro models, but there have been conflicting rumors about the new design. Early rumors suggested that Apple would adopt a hole-punch design with Face ID somehow moved completely under the display, and later it was rumored that there would be a pill-shaped cutout instead. Now, display industry consultant Ross Young has claimed that...
fortnite apple logo geforce feature

Fortnite Coming Back to iOS Soon Thanks to Nvidia's GeForce NOW Service

Thursday January 13, 2022 11:19 am PST by
With the Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit continuing on, there are no signs that Apple has any intention of allowing popular battle royale game Fortnite to return to the App Store on iPhone and iPad. Epic Games has found a workaround though, by partnering up with Nvidia. GeForce NOW, Nvidia's streaming gaming service, will soon add Fortnite support, allowing Fortnite to be played through a...
iMac 27 inch 2020 sale

Deals: Apple's 21.5-Inch iMac Hits Record Low Price of $599.99 ($499 Off) [Update: Out of Stock]

Thursday January 13, 2022 4:05 am PST by
Amazon today has a great deal on the 2017 Intel 21.5-inch iMac (2.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD), priced at $599.99, down from $1,099.00. This is the best price we've ever tracked on this model, and it's only available at Amazon. The sale price will be reflected after an automatic coupon is applied at checkout. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a...