Thursday, September 18, 2014

iOS8 get a new "while using the app" location access setting

In the beginning, trust ruled the mobile world, and apps could do mostly anything. Then, abuse was dealt with using access control to the most sensitive data and functions. And now, iOS8 improves it even further with a new location access setting that allows app to use location only while we're using it.

Do you remember when a app could simply access the GPS, camera, microphone, contacts, etc? That would seem unthinkable these days, and it's true that each "privacy abuse" case we had was cause to add yet another permission control setting. Today a app must "beg" for access to nearly everything: your contact list, motion data, camera, microphone, photos, and location.

And in iOS, it's precisely this location that is the most sensitive issue. The thing is, while iOS doesn't truly allow "real" background running apps, it does allow them to request regular location updates. This means any app with location access could be tracking your movements. Sure, you could check to see which apps are using the location service - and in iOS8 it makes it even more visible by clearly showing which apps are doing it.

But this "all or nothing" approach becomes a bit problematic: what if you want to use an app that has a legitimate need for location, but don't want to worry about it being able to track you afterwards?That's precisely what this new setting allows, giving location access only while using the app. As soon as you exit the app... that access is gone, no need to worry about it any longer.

Now we'll have to see what Google has prepared for Android L; as the revamped permission access settings that have recently been simplified, have been so perhaps a bit too much, giving less control to users that want to make sure their apps don't misbehave.

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