Most of us used to press “OK” or “Allow” when the installed app asks for permissions to access your phone features. The app could ask permission for accessing your camera, microphone, location services or even tracking your activities across other apps. Over time these permissions get accumulated and you will not have any idea which apps are accessing the phone’s features. The latest iOS version tries to resolve this problem by providing an App Privacy Report. If you are not aware of this, here is how you can enable App Privacy Report on your iPhone and analyze app permissions. You can also learn more about managing app permissions in iPhone to revert unnecessary permissions granted for apps.
App Privacy Report in iPhone
The latest Android version offers a comprehensive Privacy Dashboard. You can use this to analyze all the permissions you have granted to installed apps on your phone. Apple iPhone offers similar feature called App Privacy Report. This is a very useful feature to find which apps are accessing the features in your phone.
If required, you can also download the app usage data and analyze the details with the help of your developer. However, this is only a report and based on your findings, you may need to take necessary actions manually.
Enable App Privacy Report
By default, we have noticed the feature is disabled on iPhone. You have to manually enable to start using the report.
- Tap on “Settings” app and then go to “Privacy” section. You can also open the search by pulling the screen down on the settings page to find “privacy” settings.
- When you are in “Privacy” settings page, scroll to the bottom and tap “App Privacy Report”.
- Finally, tap “Turn On App Privacy Report” to enable the report.
- Any time later, you can go to same section and disable the report by tapping on “”Turn Off App Privacy Report”.
Data Available in App Privacy Report
After enabling, the report will start collecting the data whenever an app is accessing the feature of your iPhone. The report collects the following types of data:
- Data & Sensor Access
- App Network Activity
- Website Network Activity
- Most Contacted Domains
Let’s explain these sections with examples so that you can easily understand how to make use of these collected data.
Data and Sensor Access
Most probably you will be using one of the social apps like WhatsApp or Facebook. You might have forgotten the permissions granted for WhatsApp app when you have installed it many years back. You can open WhatsApp app and see the activities recorded in privacy report.
- When you open app, the report will show it under “Data & Sensor Access” section.
- Tap on the app to find it accessed your photos, contacts and camera permissions.
- You can tap on the permissions to further get the detailed access report for the past 7 days.
- For example, WhatsApp access your phone contacts almost every time you open the app.
Remember, this section of privacy report will record the activities only when the app tries to access your phone data or sensor. Therefore, you must use the phone for few days after enabling the report to collect sufficient data for analysis.
Network Activity Monitoring
As mentioned, there are two networking activities recorded in the report – one is from the app and other is from the websites. Remember, some apps like news apps may load the website content inside the app. In such a case, you will see the relevant details under both sections.
Also, the network activity section is independent of app permissions and includes the websites you visited in Safari. For example, we have accessed semrush.com in Safari and the report shows the website under “Website Network Activity” section.
When tapping on the site, it will show further details of the “domains contacted by the website” and “apps the viewed the website in”.
On other hand, we use “Sudoku Blocks” app which is a game showing under “App Network Activity” section. Tapping on it will show a list of domains the app tried to contact when playing the game.
Most Contacted Domains
This section will show the frequently contacted domains by apps and websites with a count. This is another way to make use of the app privacy report to find which domains are accessed without your permission. In most cases, you will see domains related to Google advertisement, fonts and Apple iTunes (for checking in-app purchases). Tap on any of the domain name to find which apps accessed the domain.
This is useful to find if the app/website is trying to contact any malicious domains on its own. In such a case, you can delete the app and report to Apple about the abuse.
Other Options in Privacy Report
You have few more options in App Privacy Report.
- It is possible to share or download privacy report as NDJSON file for further analysis. Simply tap on the share icon showing on top right corner of “App Privacy Report” settings page. This will open up sharing options in iPhone using which you can download the file to phone or share with your contacts.
- In addition, you can also opt to share analytics data with Apple by enabling “Share iPhone Analytics” option under “Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements” section. You can also view the analytics data file in .ips format which you can share with developers if required for further analysis.