How to Check and Tighten All Your iPhone’s Privacy Settings

Woman's hand entering PIN code on an iPhone 8 Plusmama_mia / Shutterstock.com

Applications on your iPhone must request authorization before accessing your data, but have you already accepted an authorization request only to review it later? Take back control of your data by consulting your privacy settings.

This also concerns more than the applications. Your iPhone allows you to limit the tracking of available ads for apps, which prevents them from showing you targeted ads.

How does iPhone privacy work?

Apple's rigid approach to iPhone privacy is reassuring, as it gives you the tools to monitor exactly what your apps know about you. At any time, you can disable an application's access to your location, camera, microphone, and other potentially sensitive information.

Applications always ask for permission. If you download a camera app, it will need to have access to your camera to work. This takes the form of an actionable pop-up window, in which you can grant or deny the request.

Here's how Apple has designed privacy to run on the iOS operating system. You need to manually grant access to information and services, such as your location, camera, microphone, health data, and even your Apple Music library. These privacy requests include other applications, such as reminders, calendars, and contacts.

Apple has done this to facilitate the management of your personal information. All applications do not need to access everything that they require to work. You do not necessarily want all apps to send you push notifications, monitor your location, or listen to your microphone.

It's not all about apps, though. You must also check other important options, including the tracking of commercials, keyboard access and browser privacy options. There is nothing paranoid about the protection of privacy.

How to modify the applications that your applications can access

You can control the applications to which the application has access from the Settings application. In the Settings application, scroll down and tap "Privacy" to view a list of private data types, such as location services, contacts, and photos. Tap each to see a list of apps that have requested access. Press the toggle to grant or revoke access to any application you deem useful.

The iOS privacy menu

When you review your privacy settings, determine whether an application requires the service to run. An app like Shazam needs to have access to your microphone to work, but Instagram does not need access to your contacts unless you explicitly try to find friends.

Revoking access to certain services may affect the application in question. For example, disabling Facebook access to your camera will prevent Facebook Camera from working, but it will not affect the basic functionality of the application.

How to change the apps that can access your location

Under Settings> Privacy, you'll find a section called Location Services. It is there that you control which applications have access to your site. It's a little different from the other settings because there are three options:

Never: The app can not access your location at all.
During the use of the application: The app only has access to your location when it's open on the screen in front of you.
Always: The application can query your position in the background.

The iOS Location Services menu

You'll also find symbols next to some apps, which look like the iOS location services icon (an arrow pointing to the northwest). This can help you understand which applications are using your location:

Hollow purple arrow: The application can receive your position under certain conditions.
Violet Arrow Continues: The application has used your position recently.
Full gray arrow: The application has used your position at some point in the last 24 hours.

If you see an application that you do not use often and that displays a full arrow, you may want to cancel access to your location (or consider deleting the application). The hollow arrow often concerns applications using geofencing, executed via widgets or Apple Watch applications (such as Weather).

How to change the contacts who can access your location

You can share your location with other Apple users via iMessage. To do this, open Messages and select a contact using iMessage (your conversation bubbles will be blue and not green). Tap the contact's name at the top of the screen, and then choose "Info." Tap "Share my location" to share for an hour, a day or indefinitely.

It can be easy to forget the people with whom you shared your position. So you can check this information under Settings> Privacy> Location Services. Tap "Share My Location" to see a list of contacts that can track your GPS location almost in real time. You can disable the setting entirely by selecting "Share My Location" or by tapping "From" to choose another Apple device to broadcast.

Screen capture of the rocker Share my location on iOS.

You can revoke access to your location by tapping a contact, scrolling to the bottom of the entry, and selecting "Stop sharing my location." You can also use the following options: Find my friends application to track and manage location sharing with contacts.

How to change the system services that use your location

Go to Settings> Privacy, scroll to the bottom of the list and press "System Services". You will see a list of services currently using your location. You can disable them, but most users must leave them on.

The "Important Places" menu will probably be of particular interest. There is a list of locations that your iPhone stores to "provide useful information about the location in Maps, Calendar, Photos, etc.". This information is encrypted and unavailable to Apple, but it is used by your device to make suggestions about traffic, travel time, and so on.

Screenshot of the iOS System Services menu

Below is the "Product Improvement" section, which uses your location to improve Apple services. This information is not encrypted and must be made available to Apple (anonymously) to be useful. Do not hesitate to disable services with which you are not comfortable.

How to change the apps that send you notifications

Notifications are not a serious privacy issue, but they can be annoying. They can also give information to anyone reading over your shoulder. You can go to Settings> Notifications to disable access to your application-by-application notifications.

Screenshot of the Notifications menu in iOS.

Lock your lock screen

Under Settings> Notifications, you can also change how each notification is displayed on your lock screen. Select an application for which you have enabled notifications and look for the "Show previews" option. The best option here is to select "When unlocked" so that previews are only displayed when your device is unlocked by Face ID or Touch ID.

If you prefer that certain notifications never reach the lock screen, uncheck "Lock Screen" in the Alerts section.

Screenshot of the Siri menu in Settings on iOS.

You can also disable Siri access on the lock screen under Settings> Siri. By default, Siri will not give away too much of the lock screen before asking you to unlock your device. For absolute peace of mind, you can disable Siri access to the lock screen by selecting the "Allow Siri When Locked" option.

How to manage third-party keyboard access

Third-party keyboards do not pose a privacy risk unless you grant "full access" to the keyboard developer. Full access allows you to send anything you type with the help of a third-party keyboard to the developer of the application. Some keyboards need to work at full capacity, but they can give personal information, passwords or even credit card information.

If third-party keypads are installed, they will be listed under Settings> General> Keypads. Tap on "Keyboards" at the top of the menu to see a list of all those that are installed. Tap any of them to view the "Allow Full Access" option, which you can enable or disable. Keep in mind that some keyboards will not work without this setting enabled.

Checking Your Safari Privacy Settings

Safari is the default browser on your iPhone. You can find its privacy settings under Settings> Safari. The default settings are appropriate for most users, as Safari attempts to limit cross-site tracking and displays a fraudulent website warning for marked domains.

You can go further by disabling all cookies. In this case, you will need to connect to services more frequently and some features, such as shopping carts, will not persist between sessions. You can also disable access to the microphone and camera, although websites display an additional prompt requesting access if necessary.

Screen capture Safari privacy and security settings for iOS.

Do not forget that if you use a different browser (such as Chrome), these settings will not apply. However, Safari respects your privacy so as to satisfy most users. If you want one that goes even further, consider:

DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser: This browser-driven search engine for iOS and Android blocks all third-party cookies, classifies sites according to their privacy policies, and imposes an encrypted connection. He also abandons Google in favor of DuckDuckGo.
Ghostery Private Browser: It started as a browser extension, but Ghostery is now available as a private browser for iOS and Android. It promises to show who's following you. In addition, it provides controls to block trackers, private search with Cliqzand protection against potential phishing attacks.
Onion Browser: Connect directly to Tor and browse the Internet privately. Block trackers, scripts, and cookies from websites. Force secure connections and access .onion websites that are only available through Tor. Learn more about Tor and how it works.

Blocking phone numbers, messages and FaceTime

Sometimes taking control over the privacy of your iPhone means blocking someone you do not want to talk to anymore. You can prevent a contact from sending you phone calls, FaceTime calls, or messages by blocking the caller. If the caller has associated their number with FaceTime, FaceTime calls will be blocked, but you may also need to block email addresses that are not associated with their number.

To block a number that you have not registered, launch the Phone application and tap the "Recent" tab. Find the number you want to block and press the information button ("i") next to it. On the next screen, select "Block this caller". You can do the same under the FaceTime app or by searching for a contact you saved under Contacts and pressing "Block this Caller" at the bottom of the entry.

At any time, you can check who you have blocked under Settings> Phone> Call Blocking and Identification. You can also access the "Blocked" menu under Settings> FaceTime and Settings> Messages.

While Spam calls and SMS monitoring applications exists, there may be a compromise of privacy. By using services like Hiyou allow some of your data to be viewed by a third party. However, as the iPhone Settings application says, "Call blocking and identification applications are not able to access information about your incoming calls. The best advice is to stop answering your phone (not really).

Limit ad tracking in Apple apps

Apple no longer manages a stand-alone advertising platform. The iAd platform was closed in 2016. However, Apple continues to send targeted advertisements via certain apps, including the App Store, Apple News and the Stocks application.

Go to the Settings> Privacy menu, scroll to the bottom of the list, and tap "Advertisement." If you limit ad tracking, Apple will disable interest-based ads. This means that the ads you receive will be less relevant. Tap "Reset Advertising ID" to start over.

Curious to know what Apple uses to show you ads? Relevant information includes the device, your location, what you searched for in the App Store, the type of articles you read in News, the actions you are interested in, what you download from one of the shops of Apple, and even your name and address. address. Unfortunately, you can not unsubscribe completely.

However, you can opt out of location-based Apple Ads ads under Settings> Privacy> System Services. As their name indicates, location-based ads use your current location to send you relevant ads.

Adjust information sharing with Apple

Analyzes are used to improve Apple's software. Anonymous information is collected on device usage, errors, and diagnostics. Apple uses this information to update or create new software and devices. Application developers can also collect data on application failures and their general use.

To change any of these settings, go to Settings> Privacy, scroll to the bottom of the list, and then tap "Analytics." Tap "Analytics Data" to view a daily report. You'll find information about your use, including the carrier you use, the complications you use on your Apple Watch, and the background processes your iPhone uses.

Apple promises that this data is anonymous, but you can always unsubscribe from anything that you share uncomfortably.

The privacy of the iPhone improves under iOS 13

If you thought that Apple's privacy controls were already robust enough, iOS 13 heralds a new era of privacy and security for the iPhone. At the top of the list is a "Connect with Apple" feature that, unlike the similar features of Google and Facebook, will not collect information about you. You can even choose to share a unique email address with an app rather than your standard email address. Apple is a hardware company and therefore sees no interest in having information from its customers.

Filtering of unwelcome calls has also been improved, including the ability to block all incoming calls from unknown numbers. Finally, Apple is finally implementing the ability to grant your permission to an application once, as well as maps of places followed by applications having access to your site.

Expected release in autumn 2019, iOS 13 seems pretty amazing.

RELATED: Here's why iOS 13 makes me want to an iPhone

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