iOS Should Have A Permissions Screen

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Super Mario Run being played on an iPhone 7
A woman playing Super Mario Run on an iPhone. Image credit: Denys Prykhodov.

Apple has been leading the pack on user privacy for smartphones and tablets for years, and App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in iOS 14.5 is one of the most prominent examples of that so far. Despite offering a significantly higher security and privacy standard than Android, iOS users would still benefit from having a permissions screen.

The Android permissions screen differs from Apple’s privacy nutrition label because it is not only on the user’s device, but it also provides a concrete list of which areas of your phone an app is accessing — whether the app vendor discloses it to the app store or not.

Apple’s privacy labels tell you what an app might do with your data in layman’s terms (which Android fails to do) based at least partially on what the app vendor told Apple. There are several permissions that should be considered alarming that you can see on Android phones.

For example: Permissions that enable an app to intercept all of your SMS messages. This jeopardizes your SMS 2FA codes (not that you should be using them). Permissions are privileges requested by an app (and even granted without the user’s permission in many cases), and they provide solid (indisputable) evidence of which areas of your phone an app is accessing.

A combination of a permissions screen and Apple’s summarized privacy label would be ideal for users that are checking not only the privacy level offered by the app, but whether it is potentially harmful to the user’s device or sensitive information that may be on it.

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