Does This Green Dot Mean Apple Is Spying on You? The Answer Is a Little Bit Complicated

If you see a green dot in the upper right hand corner of your iPhone screen right by the WiFi and service symbols, don't immediately start panicking. With the latest iOS update, Apple has implemented new security measures to let you know when applications are using your camera or microphone.

With the iOS 14 update in September, the tech giant added a new feature similar to what was already in effect for Mac computers with built in webcams. If you're unfamiliar, on a Macbook, a green light next to the webcam will come on if the camera is in use. Now something similar will happen on your phone, with the green dot appearing in the corner. An orange dot indicates that the microphone is being used. If both are in use, only a green dot will appear (so, assume your microphone is on if the camera is on).

The Apple website explains that you can also check which apps recently used the microphone or camera in the control center. According to 9 to 5 Mac, the control center will show if either feature was used within the past few minutes.

The new feature is in an attempt to be more secure and give people more awareness about which applications are using different features on the phone. "Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do. That's why with iOS 14, we're giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it's used," the Apple website states on a page about the update.

While more likely than not you'll only see these indicators pop up when you'd expect to, 9 to 5 Mac advises getting in touch with app developers if you notice the indicators coming on at suspicious times when you wouldn't expect to see them in use on the app. The site also explains that this can help more users hold apps accountable that are being suspicious. "The point is that if iOS brings attention to when these features are being used, apps that are accessing them unnecessarily will be named and shamed by the wider community," 9 to 5 Mac explains.

A summary of the privacy features with iOS14 indicates a step towards further transparency from Apple, as well as increased security. Other new privacy features with iOS14 include the ability to only give access to certain photos rather than an entire library to apps or providing an approximate location rather than the exact one. Also a new section on each product's page will provide a rundown of privacy information for new apps.

Newsweek did not receive an official comment from Apple regarding the feature.

Apple
The picture shows the Immuni contact tracking app on a smartphone on June 08, 2020 in Milan, Italy. A new privacy feature which warns people if their cameras or microphones are on has some people worried. Getty/Stefania D'Alessandro