Why iPhone Apps Ask for “Devices on Your Local Network”

The local network authorization prompt on an iPhone with iOS 14

IPhone and iPad apps must ask for permission to “find and connect to devices on your local network”. This request was IOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updatesHere is what this message means and how you should respond to it.

Why apps ask to scan your local network

Whenever an iPhone or iPad app wants to scan your local network for devices and connect to it, it needs to ask for permission first.

You will see a dialog box saying that an app “wants to find and connect to devices on your local network” when using many apps. You have only two options: “Do not allow” or “OK”.

If you allow access, an app can search for devices on networks that you connect to. For example, an app that needs to connect to a smart speaker or Chromecast will need this access to find and connect to such devices on your network. If you do not allow LAN scan access, it will not find the local device.

However, some apps seem to request this access for unclear purposes. For example, the Facebook app asks for this permission – maybe so that you can stream videos to another device? We’ve also seen this prompt appear in banking apps, and we’re not sure why.

Applications could theoretically use this feature to collect data on your network. For example, they might detect smart devices on your network and use that information to refine an advertising profile about you.

Before Apple presented this prompt, iPhone or iPad apps could do this in the background without your permission. Digitization is nothing new – the only new thing here is the prompt.

Should you allow or deny the request?

Spotify asks to scan local network on iPhone

If you plan to use a feature that requires you to find and connect to a device on your local network in this app, you must allow the request. Here are some examples of requests you should allow:

Music apps, if you plan to connect to a smart speaker.
Video apps, if you plan to cast to a Chromecast or other device.
Smarthome apps that find and connect to devices on your network.

If you don’t plan to use a feature that requires it, for example, if you’re just listening to music on your headphones in Spotify and don’t plan to connect to a smart speaker, you can decline this. asks no problem.

Even if you change your mind, you can quickly enable or disable an app’s access to your local network in the Settings app.

If you are unsure why an app wants this feature, for example, if an online banking app wants to search for local devices, we recommend that you decline the request. This will help protect your privacy, ensuring that apps cannot collect as much data on your network and the devices you own.

How to control access to the local network later

If you change your mind later and want to give an app access to the local network (or revoke the app’s ability to access devices on your local network), you can change that later.

To do this, go to Settings> Privacy> Local network on your iPhone. Any app that has requested permission to access your local network will appear here. Applications with a green switch have access to your local network, unlike applications with a gray switch. Tap the switch to allow or deny LAN access for an app.

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