iOS 13: App providers warn about problems

Privacy changes in iOS 13 may affect iPhone apps if users do not give permissions. Data loss is possible with relating apps.

New features in iOS 13 can affect the functionality of iPhone apps. Apple’s enhanced privacy measures bring changes to app access to location services, Bluetooth, and wireless information. If users do not provide the necessary approvals after installing the system update, some apps and services may not be fully usable, as app vendors emphasize.

Bluetooth access only after sharing

What is new, for example, is that apps require a share to access the Bluetooth interface. Apple will thus prevent Bluetooth from being used secretly to track the user. Apple’s sharing dialog therefore also states that the app ‘can also use Bluetooth to detect when you’re around’.

In the beta phase of iOS 13, it became clear that Apps like Amazon, Google Maps and Facebook also want to access the local radio. However, in order not to restrict the functionality of Bluetooth devices, users now have to give the associated App permission for access again. ‘Please continue to allow us access via Bluetooth’, writes the manufacturer Withings in a newsletter to customers, for example – only then is there a connection to the device to synchronize data, ‘nothing more’.

Warning of location access in the background

iOS 13 also informs users when an app has been granted permanent access to the site.

A map view also shows which location data has been sent to the app. Here the user has the possibility to switch off the background location – but under certain circumstances this also limits the functions of apps, such as thunderstorm warnings for the current location.

iOS 13 privacy problem

Individual developers of location apps criticized the change in advance, seeing themselves at a disadvantage compared to Apple’s location services due to the data protection measure.

In iOS 13, users can also specify for the first time that apps can only query the location once and have to query it again next time. Also the query of WLAN information, now requires permission to access the location.

Apple’s completely new reminder app can also cause problems: Apple warns you when you first open the app and update the database that other devices (and devices of users you share with) must also be updated to synchronize the new reminders. But in many cases this is not yet possible, since iOS 13 and iPadOS for all iPads will not be released until late September and Macs will not receive the new version macOS 10.15 until October. Until then the reminder app can and should be used in the old compatibility mode.

No CalDAV-sync with the new reminders App

Updating the reminder database also affects third-party apps that can access it to view and synchronize tasks. The developers of the 2Do task app warn that the migration could lead to data loss. When updating the database, all data from other apps would be deleted and CalDAV would be set to synchronize at the same time. Apps that use this standard to synchronize tasks would then be empty.

With an update, the Tasks app wants to ensure that there is no data loss. Users can also access an internal backup, which is created automatically if the user has not switched it off, as it is called in a support document.

Apple continues to support CalDAV to synchronize tasks via iCloud, but no interaction with Apple’s new iOS 13 reminder app is possible.

iPadOS and macOS 10.15 come later

Users of to-do apps who access the system-wide reminder database should therefore make sure to back up their data and ask the manufacturer before updating the database. Other task apps such as Fantastical have already released compatibility updates for iOS 13.

iOS 13.0 will be released on Thursday evening for the iPhone. System requirement is an iPhone 6s, iPhone SE or newer. In an unusual step, Apple has already announced iOS 13.1, which delivers additional functions and will be available for download on September 30th – together with iPadOS. A concrete date for the release of macOS 10.15 Catalina is not yet available, it should take place sometime in October.