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Are apps really picking up the screen of your iPhone?



  iPhone XS Screen
Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

TechCrunch claims many iPhone apps "secretly record your screen". Is that correct? Well, somehow ̵

1; but their receptivity is limited. Apple attacks these apps now and requires more transparency.

An app can only record your activities In the app

Let's make that clear: iPhone and iPad apps can not record everything on which you do something on the screen of your phone. An app can only record what's happening in the app itself.

In other words, even if an app tries to record everything it can, it can only track the swipe, taps, and data that you enter in that app. The Expedia app was one of the few that was singled out here. So, if you're using Expedia, the app can record, type, and enter everything into the Expedia app. However, after you leave the app, it will not be able to see anything on your home screen or enter into another app. Apple's iOS operating system would prevent apps from constantly recording your screen, even if that's what you want.

The only person who can record everything on your screen is you – with the built-in screen recording tool in iPhones. Apps can not access it.

App developers monitor their own apps

 Expedia app on the iPhone

After this scary headline has been removed, we can see what's going on: monitor apps from many large companies, what you do in the app itself.

It should not be a big surprise that this is possible. If you're using an app like Air Canada, Hollister, or Expedia, this app can monitor everything you tap in the app itself. It can monitor how many seconds you are watching a particular screen. It can even record text that you type in this app. For example, if you enter a credit card number in the app before changing your mind, delete, and enter a new credit card number, the app can capture this first credit card number. Finally, you entered it into the app, and the app can monitor everything that happens in the app itself.

None of this excuses the bigger problem: that companies do this without revealing it to their customers. However, you should be aware that even if a company states that this is not the case in their app, each app can monitor everything that happens inside it and you have no way of knowing it. Apple is now trying to prevent this without your knowledge, which should give at least some app developers cause.

Web Sites Also Do This

This behavior is not limited to iPhone apps only. While you visit a website, you can monitor all activities on this website. This is often the case.

Websites can see what you have clicked, how long you have viewed an ad, and how much time you spent on different parts of the page. When you type information into a field on the site, a script that runs on the site can capture the text and send it to its servers, even if you did not press Enter or sent the text.

For example, this is the case used in online chat support interfaces. The support staff at the other end often see exactly what you enter as you type, even before you "send" the message. This should speed up the support.

Like apps on your iPhone, websites can only see what you do on the site itself. A tracking service may be able to track you on multiple websites if each site wants to embed the script. However, a website opened in a browser tab can not recognize what you are doing on another browser tab on your online banking website, or even that your online banking website is open.

The Real News: Apps Are Recording Their "Session"

  Glassbox Software Panel
Glassbox

The real news is that app developers monitor your usage of their apps in a very detailed way.

TechCrunch covered apps that use the "Glassbox" software App developers can embed in their apps. It uses "session replay" technology, which allows a developer to record and capture everything that you do in the app. This includes everything you tap, delete and enter in the app. The developer can "play" your use of the app, which is especially useful if you have encountered a problem. You could also use this data to see how people use the app and what features they use.

According to TechCrunch, the app analyst recently demonstrated that Air Canada does not properly "mask" session retries, exposing people exposed to the session, credit card information, and passport numbers. Air Canada employees with the session data may be able to see your private information. That's bad, but the threat is limited to company employees with whom you're already sharing data.

Apple requires transparency

  Apple logo in the shop window
Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock.com

Apps port This data collection was not in advance. Apps do not let you know that they are doing this in their privacy policy, not to mention the app itself! But let's face it, even if apps warned you about their privacy policy, would you even notice? Nobody actually reads it.

Apple has now taken note of this and will need apps to get user permission before that kind of data is captured. "Apps must request the explicit consent of the user and provide a clear visual indication for recording, logging, or otherwise recording user activity," Apple said in an email to TechCrunch.

So apps really pick up what you do? [19659005] Some apps have recorded what you are doing, but only within that specific app. For example, Expedia can record what you are doing in the Expedia app – but that's it. Even if private data is not properly protected and could be detected by users, the threat is limited to employees of the company that created the app.

Apple steps in and asks developers to keep this kind of tracking less secretive. However, apps still monitor many of the ways you can do them, even if they need to request approval first. It's more likely that developers just do not collect that much data. You may not be able to "play" your session, but you probably still know what features you are using.

Even the Apple operating systems themselves collect information about their "usage" by default. and sends this information to Apple. That's pretty common. The big news here is that apps were secret and collected more data than normal.


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