How to Make Sure Your iPhone Isn’t Giving Your Apps Access to Photos and Other Personal Data

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images / Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Many iPhone users don't think twice before installing a new app. Tapping the download button in the App Store is easy, and forgetting about the program when you're not using it is even easier. But purchasing an app isn't the same as buying a knick-knack in real life and tossing it in your closet; depending on the permissions you grant, seemingly inconsequential apps may have access to the most private corners of your device. If you want to safeguard your privacy without wiping your iPhone clean, here's what you need to do.

According to Gizmodo, iOS has made some recent changes to its policies to create more transparency for users. Before you download an app, you'll now notice privacy labels in the description in the App Store. If the app collects data you don't feel comfortable sharing, you can choose not to install it in the first place.

There are also ways to protect your privacy regarding programs you've already set up. When an app wants access to a different part of your phone—such as your photos, camera, microphone, or location—it will ask for your permission to use it once the need arises rather than asking for every permission at once. This will give you a chance to assess each permission individually and deny access to the functions you wish to keep private.

For apps that have been sitting on the sixth page of your home screen for as long as you can remember, controlling what they can and can't do is slightly more complicated. Software you haven't used in years may have freedoms you have no memory of granting. To edit them, open Settings on your iPhone and scroll down to find the app you have in mind. Tapping on the name will bring you to a list of what that app can and cannot access. Some permissions can be taken away by simply toggling them off, while others give you more options. If you only want Instagram to have access to the most recent photos in your library, for example, you can go to Photos in the permissions list and opt for Selected Photos rather than All Photos. From there, you can hand-pick the pictures the app is allowed to use.

Location sharing for certain apps can also be adjusted to your comfort level. Certain apps need some location data to work properly, like your weather app, but instead of sharing your exact GPS coordinates, you can limit the program to your approximate location. You can ask the app to only track your location when it's open or when using certain widgets as well.

Every smartphone user can benefit from reassessing their digital privacy. Even if you trust the apps you download, your data could be used against you in the event of a security breach. Here are more steps you can take to keep your devices safe.

[h/t Gizmodo]