If you’re an iPhone user, you may have noticed that an orange dot and a green dot now occasionally appear in the top corner of the screen. With iOS 14, an orange dot, an orange square, or a green dot indicates when the microphone or camera is being used by an app. This new feature is part of Apple’s wider push to protect its users’ privacy.
An orange indicator means the microphone is being used by an app on your iPhone.
This indicator appears as an orange square if the Differentiate Without Color setting is on. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size.
For example, if you’re recording a reminder using the Voice Memo app, the orange dot will appear. The orange dot also appears when making phone calls or using the Siri function.
A green indicator means either the camera or the camera and the microphone are being used by an app on your iPhone.
For example, if you open Instagram and use the Stories feature to make a video with sound, the green light will appear to indicate that the app is using your iPhone’s camera and microphone. It’ll also appear when you place a FaceTime call.
How to know which app is using your iPhone’s camera and/or microphone
Apple makes it simple to find out what app is using your iPhone’s microphone or camera.
When a green or orange dot appears, simply swipe down from the screen’s top-right corner to access the Control Center. At the top, the name of the app will appear, along with whether it used your phone’s camera or microphone.
For example, if you used Instagram, it should read “Instagram, recently” with an icon of either a camera or a microphone.
Why the indicator lights matter
With the iOS 14 update, Apple introduced a number of new tools to help users protect their privacy, and force apps to be more transparent with how they use your phone.
The indicator lights are part of that, alerting users if third-party apps use their microphone or camera without consent. If you find that an app is accessing your microphone or camera without prompting, you should delete and report it.
Why is there an orange or green dot on my iPhone?
So why did Apple add the orange and green dots to your iPhone? It’s for your own safety and peace of mind. A bad app might access your camera or mic without you knowing, and Apple is using this new capability to let you know when this, occasionally happens.
At the same time, some apps might have permission to use your iPhone camera when they really don’t need to. To view which apps have access, to Settings > Privacy > microphone/camera.
You can deny access to those who don’t need it to function. In addition, you can see which apps have used your mic or camera in the iPhone Control Center.
iOS 14’s privacy labels
Another new feature that’s just launched in iOS 14.3 is a privacy label on apps in the Apple App Store, which allows you to see what kind of data an app collects about you before you download it.
The Facebook row and iOS 14’s anti-tracking features
Anyone who follows Apple, or indeed the news, might have noticed the major row going on between Apple and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook this week. In a nutshell, Facebook is annoyed that Apple is planning an iOS 14 feature in 2021 which affects the so-called identifier for advertisers (IDFA) that allows companies such as Facebook to track you across apps and websites.
Apple rightly argues that users need to know they are being tracked, and iOS 14 will soon serve you a pop up asking you when an app wants to track you, so you can opt out. The feature is due in 2021, but we don’t know exactly when yet.
Weak security Wi-Fi warning
Another mysterious notification you might have had since upgrading to iOS 14 is the “weak security” Wi-Fi warning. Like the orange or green dot, this isn’t usually something to worry about, it’s just Apple making sure you are as secure as possible. My guide on this feature explains more.
There is no denying that Apple’s iOS 14 is its most secure and private operating system yet, but the features take some getting used to.
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