iPhone’s operating system (iOS) does a great job when it comes to privacy. Without your permission, it does not let apps access your sensitive data like contacts, photos, health data, location, etc. The same goes for hardware access like microphone, camera, on-device motion & fitness sensors, and Bluetooth. Moreover, you can further modify these settings. Keep scrolling to understand how to change iPhone privacy and security settings. Additionally, I have mentioned other privacy tips for a safe and secure experience.
Change iPhone Privacy settings
Change location access for iPhone apps
Your location is a critical piece of private information. It is vital to ensure that irrelevant apps have no access to it.
For example, if Uber, Ola, KFC, weather apps, etc., request your location, it is understandable. But if a random app, say private photo gallery or calculator requests your location, it is almost stupid to grant them this access.
Here is how to check which apps are using your location and how to turn them off.
Open the Settings app and tap Privacy.
Tap Location Services.
Scroll down to see how apps are using your location. To change location access, tap an app.
Tip: Even for apps with location access, you may turn off Precise Location to get a bit more privacy.
Extra info: You can also extend your battery life by turning off location for unnecessary apps.
Turn off location access for iPhone system services
Open the Settings app → Privacy → Location Services.
At the bottom, tap System Services.
Turn off unnecessary toggles.
You may also turn off all the switches below PRODUCT IMPROVEMENT.
Please see the image below to see the settings on my iPhone. But you must take a minute to read the system service names and turn off their location access only if you believe you do not need those.
Change photos access to safeguard memories
Photos and videos must never fall into the wrong hands. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that irrelevant apps don’t have access.
Open the Settings app and tap Privacy.
Tap an app name.
Pro Tip: With iOS 14, you may also tap the Selected Photos → Edit Selected Photos → tap to choose the photos → Done. Now, the app only has access to the selected photos and nothing else.
My take: Sometimes, I have to send a screenshot to chat support of my banking or food app (for complaint). It is unnecessary to give full photo access to these apps. So, I use step 5 (selected photos). To be straightforward, I do not trust Facebook and other social media apps as well. So, I permit them access to selected images.
Turn off the camera and microphone access
The camera is your iPhone’s eyes and microphone its ears. To prevent (potential) audio snooping, it is essential to ensure that limited apps can access this.
Launch the Settings app and tap Privacy.
Turn off the switch next to unnecessary apps.
Follow the same steps to disable Camera access.
Pro Tip: With iOS 14, you see orange and green dots when an app accesses your microphone or camera. You can learn more about this here.
Similarly, change other privacy permissions
Just like location, photos, microphone, and camera, it is of prime importance to ensure that you look at other privacy settings and prevent unnecessary apps from reading and writing data to it.
Inside the iPhone Settings app, tap Privacy.
Tap an option like Contacts, Calendars, Bluetooth, Health, Files and Folders, etc.
Turn off the switch next to an app to prevent it from accessing the said thing.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 for other privacy settings.
Disable cross-app tracking in iOS 14
iOS 14 now makes it mandatory for an app to get your consent before tracking you over other third-party apps and websites. To disable cross-app tracking, check out our guide on how to block iPhone apps from tracking you.
Limit Apple Advertising
Open the iPhone Settings app and tap Privacy.
From the bottom, tap Apple Advertising.
Turn off Personalized Ads.
Optional: Before following step 3, you may tap View Ad Targeting Information to learn more.
Prevent sharing iPhone analytics
Inside the Settings app, tap Privacy.
Scroll to the bottom and tap Analytics & Improvements.
Turn off Share iPhone Analytics.
Learn about apps’ privacy practices on the App Store
One another fine addition to iOS 14 is privacy labels on the App Store. When you scroll down an app page on the App Store, you will see a heading named App Privacy. This has important information like what data this app uses to track you, what data it links to your identity, and more.
Other important points
In addition to the above privacy settings, you can further safeguard yourself by following the below recommendations.
Six tips to secure your iPhone Lock Screen for improved privacy.
Turn off Live Photos: A bride, in addition to the wedding ring, accidentally recorded her groom’s private parts and sent it to her friends. She thought she is capturing a still image of her hands, but the live photo recorded three seconds video of the naked groom walking in! To prevent this, make sure you tap the yellow circle icon for Live photos before clicking an image.
Hide photos from the library, and with iOS 14, you can even hide the Hidden Album!
Keep an eye on notifications: For some private apps, you may turn off their notification or prevent them from appearing on the Lock Screen. For this, open the Settings app → Notifications → app name → uncheck Lock Screen. You may also choose desired Show Previews settings.
Check your saved app passwords: Learn how to generate a strong password on your iPhone, as well as check and change reused, weak, or leaked passwords.
Learn about Safari Privacy report in iOS 14
We have talked more about strengthening your iPhone and iPad security plus privacy. Make sure you take a look.
Enjoy privacy with these iPhone privacy settings. It is your right!
iPhone is all about privacy. From buying billboards outside competitors’ launch events to precise ads, Apple does not shy from telling you how invested it is into ‘privacy.’
And to a considerable extent, I agree. Compared to any other operating system, I would trust Apple’s iOS and macOS the most regarding my data and privacy.
What is your take on it? Let us hear your opinion in the comments below.
I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.