iOS 6 protects contacts, photos from data-stealing apps

David Price
19 June, 2012
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One of the less trumpeted new features in iOS 6 is what Apple has called a “data isolation privacy initiative” designed to protect Calendars, Reminders, Contacts and Photos from unauthorised apps.

This seems to be a response to a minor uproar back in February, when it was widely publicised that a free ‘smart journal’ app called Path was harvesting the entire contents of users’ address books and storing it on the company’s servers.

Co-founder and CEO of Path, Dave Morin responded to the revelations by accepting that the allegations were true, but insisting that there was no underhand reason for doing so. Future versions of the iOS app would make this feature opt-in, he said.

It’s believed that other apps currently perform similar data-harvesting processes.

Under the new data isolation feature of iOS 6, however, an app would have to pop up an access dialogue box when attempting to access this data.

Gizmodo has highlighted the following text in the release notes of iOS 6:

“In iOS 6, the system now protects Calendars, Reminders, Contacts and Photos as part of Apple’s data isolation privacy initiative.

“Users will see access dialogues when an app tries to access any of those data types. The user can switch access on and off in Settings > Privacy.

“There are APIs available to allow developers to set a “purpose” string that is displayed to users to help them understand why their data is being requested.

“There are changes to the EventKit and Address Book frameworks to help developers with this feature.”


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