iOS 16 and watchOS 9 – tuning under the hood
The latest iterations of Apple’s mobile operating systems – iOS 16, and watchOS 9 – don’t change much from a user’s point of view. Just another version of the systems for the iPhone and Apple Watch without much innovation. For programmers of applications targeting these Apple systems, the changes are visible, and while they are not particularly aggravating and purely optional for the time being, they are a harbinger of greater restrictions that we will probably see in future versions of the systems – and i suppose mandatory to implement.
The issue is naturally the further tightening of privacy policies to location-based services, which is of considerable importance for owners of applications whose functionality relies on these services, such as monitoring systems.
As you know, in order for iOS or watchOS to send location data in the background, the user must give consent. When first asking for location consent, iOS as of version 16 does not show the user the “Allow always” option at all – there is only “One time” and “When I use the app.” The “Allow always” box appears during the second question. In previous versions of iOS, this second, detailed question automatically appeared after the first call to the background location function. Now we have a significant change – it is iOS or watchOS itself that decides when to show it – the decision is made by the Neural Engine (artificial intelligence coprocessor). Thus, it has become possible that the Neural Engine will show the question only after some time, and until the user accepts the permission, the background location data will not be sent – this should be taken into account in the design of the application.
However, this is a relatively minor change from the point of view of the front end of the application. Much more interesting things are happening “under the hood” of system – Xcode (a developer’s program for designing applications for Apple systems) shows warnings even if checking whether location services are available on the system is done without the user first granting permissions. We’re not talking here about using location, designating a position, etc. – just checking whether location retrieval is available on the system, without actually using it, is enough for Xcode to warn about unauthorized access. And this can only mean one thing – in future versions of iOS and watchOS, just checking whether location services can be used will be even more limited and can be done after asking the user for permission.
At the moment, this is just an assumption, but if it were to come true, all systems and applications that base their functionality on determining the position of iOS or watchOS devices will require a redesign significant enough that it is already worthwhile to start considering these changes at least on a conceptual level.
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