iOS 14 Privacy: Users Can Give Apps Access to Limited Selection of Photos

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A new privacy feature in iOS 14 enables users to give an app access to a limited number of photos, instead of having to hand over the keys to their entire photo library.

The new app permissions feature was spotted in the iOS 14 beta by Benedict Evans, who shared a couple of screenshots of it in action.

When an app requests access to photos on a device, the user can now choose from three options: Select Photos…, Allow Access to All Photos, or Don't Allow.

An iOS privacy awareness pane explains it like so:
Your photos and memories are personal. Apple's new privacy controls let you decide what photos and videos you share. When an app asks for permission to access your photo library, you have the choice to select specific items or allow access to all photos and videos.
The change is a nice improvement to the current binary option of either denying an app access to your photos or allowing it to get at your entire library of images. It should come in especially handy for when users want to give an app one-off access to a single photo, for example.

Apple has been keen to promote the new privacy features coming in iOS 14. Other iOS 14 privacy highlights covered at WWDC 2020 include the ability to give an app your approximate location instead of your precise location, App Store privacy lists for all apps, clipboard restrictions, and camera and microphone access attempt notifications.

Article Link: iOS 14 Privacy: Users Can Give Apps Access to Limited Selection of Photos
 

audiophilosophy

macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2017
106
285
New Orleans
Finally! Long overdue. Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “write to” privileges to the stock Photos app while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library. For example, it annoys me that in order to let my eufy security cam app have the functionality to save recordings to Photos, I have to grant the app privileges to acces my whole Photos app library. The eufy app only needs “write to” privileges to my Photos! While watching all the improvements that Apple debuts the last few years to iOS, I can’t help but think that none of these new features should be new. They should have been correct right from the beginning, but they weren’t. Apple’s just patching stupidity they built into their products. There’s nothing innovative or revolutionary about that. And Tim Cook’s PR campaign that Apple cares more about your privacy really doesn’t hold up when the company, for many years, has granted 3rd party apps full (non-customizable) access to your entire Photos library. When I give Facebook messenger app access to my mic and camera, why can’t I set it to have access only when the app is open— and how is Apple assuring me that the app isn’t accessing the mic and camera while it’s running in the background? Because of things like this, I have stopped buying what Apple says about caring deeply about user privacy— it’s just a marketing angle that isn’t backed up with real actions that matter. I dumped all my shares of aapl Monday evening. The company is directionless and just trying to maintain where Steve Jobs left off.
 
Last edited:

xpxp2002

macrumors regular
May 3, 2016
242
407
Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “white to” priclidges to photos while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library.
Came here to say this. Write only access for apps that can save photos, but have no business looking at your other photos.

I suppose you could put a “dummy” photo in your library, set the app permission to only read that blank photo, and it’ll still be allowed to write new photos.
 

JosephAW

macrumors 68030
May 14, 2012
2,951
3,392
Hopefully this also applies to the camera as well. Some of my apps require you to take a selfie before continuing to make sure its you. After I take the selfie I have to go in and disable camera access each time.

Been using the hidden folder to hide photos that contain ID and and account information. Now with this new feature I don't have to wonder if these apps are rifling thru my photos or even the thumbnails.

Would be neat to have an advanced audit feature where you could look at a log of all the photo/mic/location/data an app has viewed/copied to itself and when.

I disable a lot of apps cellular data to stop ads and phoning home, would be nice to also block WiFi access too.
 

itsmeaustend

macrumors member
Apr 27, 2016
36
66
Hopefully this also applies to the camera as well. Some of my apps require you to take a selfie before continuing to make sure its you. After I take the selfie I have to go in and disable camera access each time.

Been using the hidden folder to hide photos that contain ID and and account information. Now with this new feature I don't have to wonder if these apps are rifling thru my photos or even the thumbnails.

Would be neat to have an advanced audit feature where you could look at a log of all the photo/mic/location/data an app has viewed/copied to itself and when.

I disable a lot of apps cellular data to stop ads and phoning home, would be nice to also block WiFi access too.
what app has you take selfies upon launch to verify identity?
 

applepai123

macrumors newbie
Sep 16, 2016
3
0
Oslo, Norway
Came here to say this. Write only access for apps that can save photos, but have no business looking at your other photos.

I suppose you could put a “dummy” photo in your library, set the app permission to only read that blank photo, and it’ll still be allowed to write new photos.
I think apps can do something like this in iOS 13 already. I have the SAS (scandinavian airlines) app and they can export pictures of boarding pass and other stuff, but have no reason to read pictures so they have the privacy option between "Never" and "App Photos Only"
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,191
10,534
I wasn't aware that allowing an app browsing access to the photos app could allow it to nefariously start uploading the library to its server..

I dont think that's possible on any version of iOS
 
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WannaGoMac

macrumors 68020
Feb 11, 2007
2,432
3,375
Finally! Long overdue. Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “write to” privileges to the stock Photos app while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library. For example, it annoys me that in order to let my eufy security cam app have the functionality to save recordings to Photos, I have to grant the app privileges to acces my whole Photos app library. The eufy app only needs “write to” privileges to my Photos! While watching all the improvements that Apple debuts the last few years to iOS, I can’t help but think that none of these new features should be new. They should have been correct right from the beginning, but they weren’t. Apple’s just patching stupidity they built into their products. There’s nothing innovative or revolutionary about that. And Tim Cook’s PR campaign that Apple cares more about your privacy really doesn’t hold up when the company, for many years, has granted 3rd party apps full (non-customizable) access to your entire Photos library. When I give Facebook messenger app access to my mic and camera, why can’t I set it to have access only when the app is open— and how is Apple assuring me that the app isn’t accessing the mic and camera while it’s running in the background? Because of things like this, I have stopped buying what Apple says about caring deeply about user privacy— it’s just a marketing angle that isn’t backed up with real actions that matter. I dumped all my shares of aapl Monday evening. The company is directionless and just trying to maintain where Steve Jobs left off.
If that makes you feel better about selling all your appl shares great. If you arent pleased with what Apple is doing for privacy (or it's reasons) just switch to Android, thats your only alternative (lineage OS).
 
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I7guy

macrumors Core
Nov 30, 2013
22,563
10,418
Gotta be in it to win it
Finally! Long overdue. Also, there should be a way by now to allow specific apps to have “write to” privileges to the stock Photos app while also not allowing “read” access to the entire damn photo library. For example, it annoys me that in order to let my eufy security cam app have the functionality to save recordings to Photos, I have to grant the app privileges to acces my whole Photos app library. The eufy app only needs “write to” privileges to my Photos! While watching all the improvements that Apple debuts the last few years to iOS, I can’t help but think that none of these new features should be new. They should have been correct right from the beginning, but they weren’t. Apple’s just patching stupidity they built into their products. There’s nothing innovative or revolutionary about that. And Tim Cook’s PR campaign that Apple cares more about your privacy really doesn’t hold up when the company, for many years, has granted 3rd party apps full (non-customizable) access to your entire Photos library. When I give Facebook messenger app access to my mic and camera, why can’t I set it to have access only when the app is open— and how is Apple assuring me that the app isn’t accessing the mic and camera while it’s running in the background? Because of things like this, I have stopped buying what Apple says about caring deeply about user privacy— it’s just a marketing angle that isn’t backed up with real actions that matter. I dumped all my shares of aapl Monday evening. The company is directionless and just trying to maintain where Steve Jobs left off.
I agree with some of the above, disagree with some of the above. All in all, there's a bunch of hyperbole. Privacy is not an all or nothing process. It's an evolving circumstance. One just doesn't flip a switch and declare privacy is done.

So yeah, TC PR compaign, does hold up to scrutiny. Apple is doing more than other companies to ensure the correct handling of your information. Also you are confusing, imo, privacy and security.

Since TC became CEO, the company did not implode as some predicted. That you dumped your Apple shares, you gave up future gains on the stock. How long are people going to keep saying Apple will implode? From WWDC it should be apparent they are anything but directionless, but maybe there is much bias out there.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,172
5,911
Toronto, ON
You mean this entire time, apps were able to view any photos in our library? My understanding of how the picker worked was that the photo library pop up was iOS and once you selected a photo, it uploaded that into the app. I even vaguely recall Steve on stage talking about it.
 

supremedesigner

macrumors 6502a
Dec 9, 2005
785
263
Gainesville, Fl
I wondered if they did this because of social medias such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc. that have full access (if you OK'd it) to it... I'm happy Apple implemented this new feature.

I did not allow any social media apps to access to my photos, camera, microphone and contacts. Period. But who knows if they 'bypass' the security settings...
 
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D.T.

macrumors G4
Sep 15, 2011
10,530
10,129
Vilano Beach, FL
You mean this entire time, apps were able to view any photos in our library? My understanding of how the picker worked was that the photo library pop up was iOS and once you selected a photo, it uploaded that into the app. I even vaguely recall Steve on stage talking about it.

It's two discrete considerations: one is a picker that invokes the file / image browser, the other is app level access to the photos library (which you explicitly allow via the prompt / privacy for 3rd party apps).

So like Chrome on my iPad doesn't have specific photos access, yet I can still open photos to choose a pic to upload, but Twitter has read/write access, so technically it can add a photo, or read any photo from my entire library (which, come to think of it ... is creepy ... o_O ) So an app, without photos permission, can still do things like open a file picker to upload something like a profile photo, but it doesn't have any persistent access after that operation.
 

cgsnipinva

macrumors 6502
Jan 29, 2013
332
223
Leesburg, VA
I agree with some of the above, disagree with some of the above. All in all, there's a bunch of hyperbole. Privacy is not an all or nothing process. It's an evolving circumstance. One just doesn't flip a switch and declare privacy is done.

So yeah, TC PR compaign, does hold up to scrutiny. Apple is doing more than other companies to ensure the correct handling of your information. Also you are confusing, imo, privacy and security.

Since TC became CEO, the company did not implode as some predicted. That you dumped your Apple shares, you gave up future gains on the stock. How long are people going to keep saying Apple will implode? From WWDC it should be apparent they are anything but directionless, but maybe there is much bias out there.

Spot on comment. I think Apple has been more proactive in the areas of privacy than other tech companies. At least they are designing and engineering tools into the OS and their applications to protect our privacy as best they can and still offer valued functionality that bear results. Most other technology firms don't even try.
 

ipedro

macrumors 603
Nov 30, 2004
5,172
5,911
Toronto, ON
It's two discrete considerations: one is a picker that invokes the file / image browser, the other is app level access to the photos library (which you explicitly allow via the prompt / privacy for 3rd party apps).

So like Chrome on my iPad doesn't have specific photos access, yet I can still open photos to choose a pic to upload, but Twitter has read/write access, so technically it can add a photo, or read any photo from my entire library (which, come to think of it ... is creepy ... o_O ) So an app, without photos permission, can still do things like open a file picker to upload something like a profile photo, but it doesn't have any persistent access after that operation.
That is creepy as hell.

2FDC0F4D-FB3C-40F2-8F42-D909CD13984B.png


All this time, all these apps had access to my entire photo library. I’m surprised Apple has allowed this for so long, given their intense focus on privacy.
 

MilaM

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2017
41
27
This is a very welcome change. I hate giving "social media" and messaging apps full access to my photo album. It's just to tempting to mine this data for locations and other meta data.
 
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