15 Best Privacy and Security Features in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14

BY Dilum Senevirathne

Published 30 Jun 2020

Apple has further solidified its pro-privacy stance with the introduction of some new features in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. Multiple updates across the board now put apps under increased scrutiny, web browsing is more secure, and a number of improvements to existing features allow for a much private experience on the iPhone and iPad. Let’s take a deep dive and look at the best privacy and security features that you get with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.

If you don’t want to wait until later this year, you can check out most of these features in action by installing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 beta on your iPhone or iPad right now.

The Best Privacy Oriented Features in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14

1. Increased App Store Transparency

Straight off the bat, Apple makes it hard for third-party apps to engage in questionable privacy practices. The App Store in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 sports a new section labeled App Privacy for all listed apps. As the name suggests, apps will now reveal the exact forms of data used to track you. This helps you make better decisions when installing apps on your iPhone or iPad. You can also use the information to take the necessary measures to prevent privacy-invasive apps from tracking you all the time.

If there’s a downside, it’s the fact that the information provided is self-reported by app developers themselves. Whether Apple will audit the details once the stable iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 release is out is yet to be seen.

2. Reading From Clipboard Notifications

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 notifies you whenever an app reads data from your clipboard. This is a seemingly insignificant yet vital improvement to user privacy. For example, a third-party web browser such as Chrome will always read your clipboard so that you can start searching quickly, but not every app needs to do that. This is where the feature proves to be incredibly helpful.

Since the introduction of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, a number of popular apps have already been caught in the act of reading the clipboard for no obvious reason. TikTok, which was among the apps identified, has already made plans to stop the practice in response to the negative press.

3. Safari’s Integrated Tracking Report

Safari already featured the ability to block cross-site cookies and trackers coming into iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. This happened under the hood, but the browser now shows you a detailed report of all trackers (both blocked and allowed) via a feature called Tracking Report. It allows for increased transparency when browsing any website.

You can access the Tracking Report via the Website View menu introduced in Safari last year. Reported details include the total number of trackers blocked, a percentage of visited sites that used trackers, and the most contacted tracker across all sites. You also get a breakdown of trackers for each site that you’ve visited over a period of 30 days.

4. Password Security Recommendations

This year’s OS updates for the iPhone and iPad also bring security recommendations to the table. Your device will now check your saved (or synced) Safari passwords and other Keychain login credentials for breaches and duplicates.

If any of the saved passwords were involved in a known data breach, the Security Recommendations screen (accessible via Settings > Passwords) will alert you to the fact so that you can take adequate action quickly. The same goes for duplicate or commonly used passwords. Where possible, you can also upgrade login credentials to Sign in with Apple.

5. Upgrade to Sign in with Apple

Apple introduced Sign in with Apple last year, allowing for a convenient way to sign in to websites and apps. It’s also incredibly private — for example, Sign in with Apple lets you use an anonymized email address while masking the real thing to preserve your privacy. With iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can upgrade existing login credentials to Sign in with Apple as well.

The Cupertino giant provides developers with an API that can help support the transition. You can check the Security Recommendations screen and shift to Sign in with Apple for apps or websites that incorporate the feature.

6. Secure Face ID and Touch ID Logins

Apple has laid the groundwork to start supporting Face ID and Touch ID logins for websites in Safari once the stable iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 releases hit this fall. Based on WebAuthn, which is a component of the FIDO2 standard, this method will forgo the current system of signing into websites using a mix of biometrics and autofill data by purely opting for the former. In other words, you get to skip using passwords. This will not only make the process of signing into websites easier but also much secure.

7. Visual Camera/Microphone Indicators

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 provide even more transparency whenever apps access the camera and microphone of your device using colored status indicators. A green-colored dot indicates an active camera, while an orange-colored dot reflects a live microphone.

You can also view the name of the app using your camera feed or microphone audio by bringing up the Control Center — you also get to see the most recent app that accessed the camera or microphone. Over time, the added transparency should help stop apps from snooping in on you.

8. Apps Require Permission to Track

Previously, apps that featured advertisement trackers could use a random device identifier — which can’t be used to identify devices — to track users. Despite that, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 give you complete control over app tracking.

Apps now require your explicit permission to start tracking you across apps and websites. You will receive a notification that provides you with the option to allow or restrict any app from tracking you. You can always manage the permissions by heading over to Settings > Privacy > Tracking.

9. Find non-Apple Devices with Find My

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 no longer restrict the Find My app to locating only Apple devices. The Cupertino giant has released a draft specification that allows third-party accessories and products to participate in a ‘network accessory program,’ which means that it’s now possible to use the Find My app to discover other important devices as well. This is a huge boon for anyone using both Apple and non-Apple devices.

10. Precision Location Tracking

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 bring a new feature to manage apps that make use of aggressive location services, putting more control in your hands. The feature, dubbed ‘Precision Location,’ lets you determine between an app having your exact location or an approximate location.

For example, Apple Maps or Google Maps need to have Precision Location enabled to work properly. But not weather-related apps, where your approximate location should still do the job just fine. You can enable or disable Precision Location for apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

11. Hide Apps in App Library

The App Library is a huge addition to iOS 14 that helps you effectively manage the Home screen. However, it also doubles up as a privacy tool.

If you don’t want others to see a certain app in the Home screen, there’s now no reason to go hide it in an app folder — just chuck it into the App Library instead. Sadly, the feature is not available in iPadOS 14.

12. Permissions to Select Photos or Albums

Certain third-party apps require permission to your photos library to read or write images. However, this also poses a major risk to user privacy since nefarious apps can have ready access to sensitive or confidential photos.

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 limit potential privacy implications by limiting access to select photos or albums, making it much safer to use third-party apps on your iPhone and iPad. You can configure photo library permissions by visiting Settings > Privacy > Photos.

13. Preserve Privacy in Local Network

Apps can’t connect to or ping other devices — and track you that way — within a local network without your permission anymore. Unless an app really needs to find and communicate with other devices to function properly, there’s simply no reason to provide this permission. You can manage this feature by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Tracking.

14. Private Addresses for Wi-Fi Networks

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 come with a nifty Wi-Fi security feature that prevents network providers from tracking your iPhone or iPad.

Enabled by default, the Use Private Address setting within the Wi-Fi settings of any connection helps your iPhone and iPad throw out randomly generated Mac addresses. This serves as an anti-tracking measure whenever you connect to different Wi-Fi networks.

15. Supports Encrypted DNS

The stable releases of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are set to support encrypted DNS that take advantage of both the DoH (DNS-over-HTTPS) and DoT (DNS-over-TLS) protocols.

Strip away the jargon, and these protocols allow apps to perform and receive DNS queries and responses in an encrypted format for increased privacy. This helps prevent bad actors and malicious code from interfering and hijacking network traffic.

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 – Safe and Secure

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are arguably the biggest upgrades in terms of privacy and security in years. In addition to the features mentioned above, you also receive a host of other useful options such as auto-filling contacts, SMS spam filtering, and more. Don’t forget to check out our complete roundup of all the iOS 14 features and iPadOS 14 feature lists to know about all the new features you will be getting on your iPhone and iPad this year.