iPhone and iPad apps need to ask permission to “find and connect to devices on your local network”. This request was related to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates. Here’s what that message means and how you should answer it.
Why apps ask to scan your local network
When an iPhone or iPad app wants to search your local network for devices and connect to them, it must first ask for permission.
A dialog box says that an app wants to find devices on your local network and connect to them while you are using many apps. You only have two options: “Don̵
If you grant access, an app can search the networks you connect to for devices. For example, an app that needs to connect to a smart speaker or a Chromecast needs this access in order to find such devices on your network and connect to them. If you do not allow local network scanning access, the local device will not be found.
However, some apps seem to request this access for unclear purposes. For example, the Facebook app asks for this permission – maybe so you can transfer videos to another device? We’ve seen this prompt in banking applications too, and we’re not sure why.
Apps could theoretically use this feature to collect data on your network. For example, they could discover the smart devices on your network and use this information to optimize an advertising profile about you.
Before Apple introduces this prompt, iPhone or iPad apps can do it in the background without your permission. Scanning isn’t new – the only thing new here is the command prompt.
Should you allow or deny the request?
If you want to use a feature that requires this app to find a device on your local network and connect, you should allow the request. Here are some examples of requests you should allow:
- Music apps when you want to connect to a smart speaker.
- Video apps when you want to stream to a Chromecast or other device.
- Smart home apps that find devices in your network and connect to them.
If you don’t plan to use a feature that requires it, e.g. For example, in Spotify, if you only want to listen to music through your headphones and don’t want to connect to a smart speaker, you can decline this request without a problem.
Even if you change your mind, you can quickly turn an app’s access to your local network on or off in the Settings app.
If you have no idea why an app might want to use this feature, e.g. For example, if an online banking app wants to search for local devices, we recommend that you decline the request. This protects your privacy and ensures that apps can’t collect as much data about your network and the devices you own.
How to control local network access later
If you later change your mind and want to give an app local network access or revoke app access to devices on your local network, you can change that later.
To do this, go to Settings> Privacy> Local Network on your iPhone. Any app that has asked for permission to access your local network will be displayed here. Apps with a green switch can access your local network, but apps with a grayed out switch do not. Tap the switch to allow or deny local network access for an app.