An orange light on your iPhone could mean an app is spying on you - what to do if that happens

The newest update has introduced new privacy and security features for users (Photo: Apple)The newest update has introduced new privacy and security features for users (Photo: Apple)
The newest update has introduced new privacy and security features for users (Photo: Apple)

With so much of our lives interconnected with our mobile phones, digital privacy has never been more important than right now.

The latest software update from Apple, iOS 14, has given iPhone users a brand new privacy feature - one which shows when apps could be spying on you.

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This is everything you need to know about the orange warning light on iPhones.

What does an orange light mean?

The orange light was introduced with the iOS 14 update, as part of the new privacy features.

The orange light, found at the top of your screen, is actually a recording indicator. It will light up whenever an app is using your microphone, so if you’re recording a voice note or using Siri.

A green light is a camera indicator, which appears whenever an app is using your front camera, so you’ll see it light up when you’re using Face ID, FaceTime or taking a selfie.

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But these lights also mean that users can keep an eye on which apps are using these functions, whereas previously it was more hidden.

Apple said, “Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values. Your devices are important to so many parts of your life. What you share from those experiences, and who you share it with, should be up to you.

“We design Apple products to protect your privacy and give you control over your information. It's not always easy. But that’s the kind of innovation we believe in.”

How to see if an app is using your camera or microphone

If you see either the green or the orange light in the corner of your screen, there is a simple way to check which app is doing the recording.

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Simply swipe down from the corner of your phone to open up the control centre.

This will show you a message which states which app is responsible for the notification. These could be Apple apps or third party apps you've installed.

How to check which apps have access to your camera and microphone

If you’re concerned about which apps might have access to your camera and microphone, then there’s an easy way to check - and to revoke their camera and microphone privileges as well.

Open your settings and then scroll down to ‘Privacy’. From there, tap ‘Microphone’ and you’ll be presented with the list of apps that have access to your phone’s microphone. You can toggle microphone access off for apps you don’t want to have access.

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Go back to your privacy settings and then select ‘Camera’, and, similarly, you’ll be able to see which apps can access your camera. Again, you can turn off access for apps you don’t want to have access.

If you change your mind and decide you do want an app to have access to either of these functions, simply follow the previously listed steps and turn access back on.

Have apps been caught recording people?

Some iPhone users have expressed their concerns on social media about certain apps that have triggered the orange light without the user recording anything themselves.

TikTok is one app that has been mentioned, with users saying the orange light appears when they open the app and disappears when they close it.

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One person tweeted, “Y’all, TikTok is listening to us, this orange dot appears whilst on the app and disappears when I leave TikTok, it comes up on Siri too as it means it’s using the mic.”

Another wrote, “Umm so you all know the orange dot means it’s using your microphone??? I logged into TikTok and I got this??? I’m not recording or using my camera…”

Others also reported similar issues with the YouTube app.

“@YouTube I am not sure if this is a bug, but after installing the ios14 beta the orange dot appears every time I use the YouTube iPhone app. The dot means that I am using the mic (nice feature @Apple). I didn’t use any feature in the app that requires the mic, I am a bit concerned,” tweeted someone else.

In June, early testers of the iOS 14 update also found that the warning light appeared when they used Instagram.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded, saying that the issue was a bug and released a patch update to fix it.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title The Scotsman 

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