iOS 13 Has an Important Bluetooth Privacy Feature

Bluetooth icon

Jared Newman writes about the iOS 13 Bluetooth privacy feature. When an app needs to access Bluetooth, iOS displays an alert so you can allow or deny the request. Bluetooth can be used to track you, which is why Apple added the feature. I’ve seen these alerts a couple of times running the iOS 13 public beta. I disagree with Mr. Newman though; I don’t think it’s too confusing. Just think about the app and whether it legitimately needs Bluetooth. For example, if you need to connect a device to your iPhone, you’ll need Bluetooth. But apps like Google Maps and YouTube don’t need Bluetooth (and I’ve seen alerts and denied them both).

Prior to iOS 13, apps could use Bluetooth to collect detailed location data from users without explicit permission, using tracking beacons in retail stores and other public locations. Even if users had denied an app access their location data, Bluetooth could have provided a workaround.

Check It Out: iOS 13 Has an Important Bluetooth Privacy Feature

One thought on “iOS 13 Has an Important Bluetooth Privacy Feature

  • I’m with Jared: it’s confusing. Like him, I’ve seen the scary pop up a lot, and contacted a developer or two, who say something to the effect of “no way did I mean my app to use Bluetooth”. This means it’s getting pulled in by frameworks that some apps don’t use for their Bluetooth capabilities. Refactoring required? I also suspect that some apps that have already asked to use my location (and been duly allowed or denied) are being forced to ask again because the location frameworks use Bluetooth. If this is the case, Apple needs to bundle Bluetooth-for-location in with the “use your location” permission, so reducing the number of times the “use Bluetooth” dialog appears.

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