iOS 14 Privacy Features: Approximate Location, Clipboard Access Warnings, Limited Photos Access and More

With every iteration of iOS, Apple adds new privacy features to better protect iPhone and iPad users, and iOS 14 is no exception. This year's update is worth downloading for the privacy protections alone, which include Privacy Reports in Safari, recording indicators, an option to share approximate location with apps instead of precise locations, and more.

iOS14 Privacy Feature 2
In this guide, we've highlighted all of the privacy-focused changes that Apple is introducing in the iOS 14 update.

Recording Indicators

When an app is using either the camera or the microphone, a small dot appears in the status bar just above the WiFi and cellular signal bars. The dot is green when an app is using the camera, and orange when using the microphone.

recordingindicatorios14
If you close the app using the camera or microphone and then open the Control Center, there will be a camera or microphone icon along with the name of the app that was recently using the feature. Recording indicators prevent the camera or microphone from being accessed by an app in the background without your knowledge, so you can be sure that apps aren't sneakily recording conversations or videos.

recordingindicatorios14controlcenter

Safari

Password Monitoring and Compromised Password Alerts

In iOS 14, the Safari app monitors passwords saved in iCloud Keychain, and lets you know if you have a password that's been compromised in a leak or is too weak so you can change it. The feature provides direct links to websites where you can change your passwords.

passwordmonitoringsafari
For this feature, Safari uses cryptographic techniques to regularly check derivations of your passwords against a list of breached passwords in what Apple promises is a secure and private way. Potential problems can be seen under the "Security Recommendations" heading in the Passwords section of the Settings app.

Privacy Report

A Privacy Report feature in Safari expands on Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention functionality that's designed to prevent websites from tracking your internet usage as you browse for ad targeting and analytics.

privacyreportsafari
iOS 14's Privacy Report lists which sites are using trackers, how many trackers are installed on each site, and the most prevalent trackers that you encounter across multiple sites.

Privacy Reports can be accessed by tapping on the "Aa" icon in the URL bar and choosing the "Privacy Report" option. Cross-site tracking prevention needs to be enabled in Settings for Privacy Report to work, but it's on by default so most people shouldn't need to make adjustments.

For more on everything that's new in Safari, including the privacy features included in Safari for iOS 14, make sure to check out our Safari guide.

App Store Privacy Reports

Later this year, the iOS App Store will include a new privacy section on each app page that will provide a summary of the privacy practices of an app before you download it. Apple when introducing the feature at WWDC compared it to a nutritional label for food.

appstorelabels
Developers will self-report their privacy practices, letting you know what data is collected and how that data might be used to track you across companies. Apple plans to require developers to implement this feature in a simple, easy-to-read format that's similar to a nutrition label for food.

App Store privacy information won't be available right when iOS 14 launches, but Apple says it will be introduced in an update to the iOS 14 operating system.

App Tracking Controls

Apps that want to use tracking mechanisms that track your behavior across various apps and websites need to get permission from you before doing so in iOS 14.

app tracking pop up ios 14
Apps that use these features will have a popup asking you to enable tracking features, which are used for targeted advertising, data collection, and similar purposes. Most people are not going to want to tap accept on these kinds of requests, and declining tracking prevents an app from accessing a device's advertising identifier.

According to Apple, apps granted permission to track you can collect data that includes device ID, name, email address, and more, which is then combined with data collected by third parties. The combined data is often used for ad targeting or shared with data brokers, linking that data to publicly available and other information about you and your device.

apptrackingios14toggle
You can turn off cross-app and cross-site tracking for apps entirely by opening up the Settings app, navigating to the Privacy section, and tapping "Tracking." From there, turn off "Allow Apps to Request to Track."

Developers are responsible for ensuring they comply with user choice, and there are some situations where a developer is not required by Apple to ask for user permission, such as when information is combined on device and not sent off in a way that is personally identifiable or when used for fraud detection or prevention.

Approximate Location

There are some apps that require your location to properly function, and in iOS 14, Apple has introduced a new feature that lets you share your location data in a more secure and less targeted way.

weatherapplocationios14
For apps that require location access, you can choose to share an Approximate Location, which is close to your location but not precisely spot on, making it harder for apps to keep track of where you're going and better protecting your location privacy.

Apps that ask for location access will pop up the Approximate Location option, but you can also get to these settings for each location using app by opening up Settings, going to the Privacy section, tapping on Location Services, and then tapping on each app that has requested location permission.

Toggle off "Precise Location" for any app that you want to use an approximate location instead. This is useful for weather apps, browsers, mapping apps, and more.

Widgets

Widgets in iOS 14 must receive user approval to access location data just like apps. Under Location Services in the Privacy section of the Settings app, there are also options to allow or disallow location access while a widget is in use.

widgetprivacymaps
You can choose to allow both the app and its accompanying widget to access your location, or just an app. When given permission and in use, a widget can access location data for 15 minutes.

Widget location is subject to the approximate or precise location settings that are enabled for each app.

Clipboard Access

Whenever an app accesses the clipboard in iOS 14, Apple notifies you with a small banner that lets you know the clipboard was copied. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for an app to use the clipboard, such as when you're copying and pasting something from another app or through the Continuity based copy paste feature on another machine, but apps had also been abusing their clipboard access.

tiktokclipboard
Apps like TikTok, Twitter, Zillow, and tons of other apps were reading the clipboard without user knowledge or permission in situations where clipboard access was not warranted. Many of these apps said that these were security features or bugs, and the warning banner from Apple has resulted in many apps making sure their clipboard access is above board.

Apps are not able to read the clipboard without you knowing about it, so you can be sure the contents of your clipboard are safe from unwarranted access.

Network Access

Apps that want to access devices on your local network need to ask permission in iOS 14, and there are some apps that ask that have no business accessing your local network, such as Facebook.

ios14localnetworkaccess
Some apps have a valid reason for accessing devices on your local network, such as those that control Bluetooth or WiFi-based devices, and you can tap to allow or disallow access. Local Network settings can also be controlled under Local Network in the Privacy section of the Settings app.

WiFi Tracking

When you're connected to a WiFi network, there's an option to "Use Private Address" to prevent network operators from tracking your phone across different WiFi networks.

wifiprivateaddressios14
You can find this option by opening up the Settings app, tapping the WiFi section, and tapping on one of the listed networks. Apple provides a warning when connecting to a Wi-Fi network that doesn't use the Private Address feature.

wifiwarning

Limited Photos Library Access

For apps that ask permission to access your photos, you can now choose to give access to your entire photo library or just a few photos at a time, which is useful if you don't want social networks like Facebook or Instagram seeing your entire camera roll.

ios14limitedphotosaccess
If you use the limited photos option, you can continually change the photos that are shared, selecting just a couple at a time that you want to upload or edit, depending on the app. It adds another step to workflows involving photos, but it keeps your full library safe and inaccessible.

ios14selectedphotos
You'll be asked about limited photos access whenever an app wants permission to use photos, and you can control which apps have access to all of your photos, limited photos, or no photos in the Privacy section of the Settings app under "Photos."

New Sign in with Apple Features

New Sign in with Apple tools for developers will make it easier for them to enable functionality for transferring existing web accounts to Sign in with Apple, which could make new options available to iPhone, iPad, and Mac users who want to convert their logins to the more secure Sign in with Apple feature.

signinwithapple

On-Device Dictation

Dictation is designed to improve over time so for accuracy and to customize to each person's usage needs. With on-device dictation, all processing is done offline, but dictation used in search still uses server-based dictation.

Contacts Autofill

Rather than sharing Contacts with third-party apps, Apple has added an autofill feature. When you go to type someone's name, it will fill in their phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and other info that's stored in the contacts app. Autofill is done on device and prevents contact info from being shared with third-party developers.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about the privacy features in iOS 14, know of a feature we left out, or or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here. If you want to know more about what's coming in iOS 14, make sure to check out our iOS 14 roundup.

Top Rated Comments

BWhaler Avatar
14 weeks ago
Apple’s commitment to privacy will keep me as a customer for life.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Saturnine Avatar
14 weeks ago

Apps are not able to read the clipboard without you knowing about it, so you can be sure the contents of your clipboard are safe from unwarranted access.

This isn’t quite true. I’ve had a meme app on my devices for years. iOS 14 has started informing me that the app is reading the contents of the clipboard whenever it’s opened.

I contacted Apple who simply said I need to contact the app developer. I duly contacted them but have had no response despite multiple e-mails.

There is no valid reason that I can think of to be accessing the clipboard. As such, I have no choice but to stop using the app.

I would actually like to see Apple go further and actually add a privacy option to disallow certain apps from reading the clipboard at all.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Saturnine Avatar
14 weeks ago


But the statement you quoted, “Apps are not able to read the clipboard without you knowing about it, so you can be sure the contents of your clipboard are safe from unwarranted access”, quite literally is true. You will be informed when an app uses the clipboard, and you can choose what action to take. That action may be to remove said app and seek an alternative. If you elect to do nothing, then by your inaction, you have deemed the app’s access warranted, even if you don’t like what it’s doing. Don’t conflate “I don’t have a choice” with “I don’t like the available choices”, they’re not the same thing.

Sorry I don’t agree. It’s quite simple. By the time you’ve been informed that an app has accessed your clipboard, the contents could already be winging their way across to the Internet to parties unknown.

For that reason I stand by my original statement. Knowing something has been stolen and preventing that thing from being stolen are entirely different things. As such, I still don’t feel that the contents of my clipboard are “safe from unwarranted access.”
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LawJolla Avatar
14 weeks ago
The limited photo access is ?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subjonas Avatar
14 weeks ago
These are great and why I stick with Apple.
Off the top of my head, the only other things I wish they’d add is ability to grant/revoke individual apps write-only access to photos, and internet access (both wifi and cellular).
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WoodpeckerBaby Avatar
14 weeks ago
(Google left the chat)

?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Thanksgiving Day Deals Still Available on AirPods, M1 Macs, Apple Watch Series 6, iPads

Thursday November 26, 2020 10:21 am PST by
Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier every year, so there were already a wide variety of discounts available for Apple products on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals remain available even after Thanksgiving, but act fast, as inventory quickly fluctuates. Thanksgiving Day Deals on Apple Products — Still Available:AirPods with a wireless charging case remain available for...
iPads black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPad Deals [Updated]

Tuesday November 24, 2020 8:51 am PST by
Black Friday is underway, and we're tracking discounts across Apple's lineup of iPads, including the current-generation 10.2-inch iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro. We'll be keeping this post updated as new deals appear and current ones expire, so be sure to keep checking back for the latest. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
windows 10

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Friday November 27, 2020 7:16 am PST by
Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system (via The 8-Bit). Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple's Global Security Chief Indicted in Scheme to Trade iPads for Gun Permits, but Apple Says It's Found No Wrongdoing

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:41 am PST by
Earlier this week, Apple's Chief Security Offier Thomas Moyer and others were charged in an expanding investigation involving the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office over exchanging bribes for concealed gun permits, reported the Morgan Hill Times. According to the investigation, Santa Clara County Undersheriff Rick Sung held back four concealed carry weapons permits for Apple's security team ...
iPad Pro 5G and Mini LED feature

Rumored 2021 High-End iPad Pro May Feature 5G With mmWave Support

Thursday November 26, 2020 2:14 am PST by
Apple's rumored high-end iPad Pro models to be released next year will be 5G-enabled with mmWave support, according to sources cited by industry publication DigiTimes. Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is planning to release a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display next year, with the possibility that there will be an 11-inch mini-LED model too, but details beyond that have...