The upcoming iOS operating system version 6 will alert users when an app attempts to ask for permission to access your contacts, calendars, reminders and your photo library. To date, current iOS apps only ask permission for accessing the devices geolocation data.
Apple confirmed: “For contact, calendar, and reminder data, your app needs to be prepared to be denied access to these items and to adjust its behavior accordingly. If the user has not yet been prompted to allow access, the returned structure is valid but contains no records. If the user has denied access, the app receives a NULL value or no data. If the user grants permission to the app, the system subsequently notifies the app that it needs to reload or revert the data.”
I wrote about the PhotoSpy test app back in February, which gained access to the iOS photo library. This proof of concept app gained access via stealth to the photo library and uploaded the user’s entire photo library to a cloud storage environment – all without the user ever knowing. Apple recognised this issue, so it’s no surprise to see they are implementing an iOS baked app permission alerting mechanism. App permissions are a hot privacy topic in the US right now.
Apple and the developers participating in the App Store have come under considerable scrutiny over its privacy practices in recent months. App privacy is important, but right now I believe privacy policies need to more aligned with data usage. App developers and the app stores should make every effort to incorporate links to these data usage policies within their apps as well as a link to Apple to report apps that do not comply with the App Store terms and conditions.
What about the legacy iOS versions and apps? I’m not sure right now whether the legacy iOS versions and apps will be adapted to this app permission alert mechanism. In my opinion, it should be considered regardless of development cost. What are your thoughts?
Safe surfing folks!
Bootnote: Apple iOS 6 is currently in beta testing and is expected to released in the Autumn.