The Yellow Apple DOT
Everyone knows you should be careful what you say in front of a microphone, but it’s becoming increasingly rare that you’re ever far away from one.
There are (sometimes multiple) microphones in your phone and most other consumer electronics now, used to make calls, take notes and issue voice commands or interact with digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
Apple, Google, Amazon and a slew of other companies all promised us no one was listening to our conversations or interactions and then issued apologies and promised to do better when it emerged that was not the case on several occasions last year.
One of the new features in Apple’s recently released iOS 14 is a new recording indicator that will tell you when the microphone on your device is listening in or the camera is active.
The indicator is a small yellow dot in the top right of the screen near your signal strength and battery life.
The indicator is one of a number of new privacy features in iOS 14, with Apple saying privacy is “a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do”.
If you notice the indicator active when you don’t think it should be you can go into the control center of your iPhone (by swiping down from the top right) to see which apps have recently used your microphone.
Apple will also be adding new policies to its app store later this year for app developers to disclose the privacy practices of apps before you download them.
You can also change your location setting so it only shows your approximate, rather than exact location, useful for things like weather and news alerts.
Web browser Safari has new ways to protect your privacy, or at least tell you how much it’s been violated.
A new privacy report in Safari can show you what trackers different websites are using and block them too.
Your phone will also keep track of the passwords you have saved and tell you if one of them has been compromised.
The company said it “uses strong cryptographic techniques to regularly check derivations of your passwords against a list of breached passwords, in a secure and private way that doesn’t reveal your password information, even to Apple”.
Apple iPhone users with an iPhone 6S or newer can now install iOS 14, although some features are restricted to newer phones.