Following the new iOS 14 software update, which was rolled out to Apple products including iPhones and iPads around the world on Wednesday, September 16, many users have been quick to noticed new indicators in the status bar, in the right-hand notch, and are wondering what those are for.
These new status symbols show up as orange and green dots or circles that appear above the signal strength indicator.
It turns out these dots are actually informational indicators that help reassure and protect your privacy. On MacBooks and iMacs, Apple has a physical green LED that sits next to the webcam. Although they appear next to the cellular signal and Wi-Fi status indicators, they have nothing to do with network connectivity.
When the camera is accessed, the LED light turns on to let you know that an application on your system is watching the camera feed. iPhones and iPad do not have physical LEDs so Apple has simulated the experience through software.
What does the orange dot on iPhone mean?
The orange dot means that an application on your phone is using the microphone. The microphone is being listened to and could be recorded. This may show up when you are using Siri or Dictation, for example, and need the iPhone to transcribe your speech to text. The orange dot should only appear when you are doing something that requires the microphone.
If the orange dot shows in contexts where it doesn’t seem like it should be required, that may indicate an app is misusing your privacy. If you do spot it showing up when it shouldn’t, then you may want to contact the developer to enquire about why it is being used. It could just be a bug with the app, rather than intentional spying activity.
In previous versions of iOS, users would not know when the microphone was being accessed unless the app was in the background. When apps record the microphone when backgrounded, iOS shows a red pill indicator on the left-hand side of the notch. This behavior hasn’t changed with iOS 14, but now the orange light will appear on the right-hand side of the notch at the same time.
What does the green dot on iPhone mean?
The green dot appears when an app is using the camera, like when taking a photo. Camera access implies access to the microphone too; in this case, you won’t see the orange dot separately. The green color matches the LEDs used in Apple’s MacBook and iMac products.
If an application is accessing the camera when it doesn’t make sense, it may mean the app is invading your privacy. They may be doing something nefarious, in which case you can delete the application, or it may just be a bug.
The green light being on does not mean that the camera feed is being recorded and saved; all iOS knows is that the app can access the camera feed at that time. It doesn’t know what the app is doing with the data.
If you pull down on the Control Center, within a few minutes of the camera or microphone being used, Control Center UI can tell you what happened. It will show the type of access (either microphone or camera) and the name of the app that used the sensor. This provides an extra layer of transparency, in case you happened to miss the small circular dot indicator.
What else has changed as a result of the iOS 14
Following the roll out of the new iOS 14 software on iPhones and iPads, Apple users will now be able to continue watching videos or FaceTime call others while using another app.
Here’s a round-up from Apple of the other features
that have launched on iOS 14:
Translate is designed to be the best and easiest app for translating conversations, offering quick and natural translation of voice and text among 11 different languages.6 On-device mode allows users to experience the features of the app offline for private voice and text translation.
Siri expands its knowledge and answers complex questions with information sourced from across the internet. Keyboard dictation runs on device when dictating messages, notes, email, and more.
The Home app makes smart home control even easier with new automation suggestions and expanded controls in Control Center for quicker access to accessories and scenes. Adaptive Lighting for compatible HomeKit-enabled lights automatically adjusts the colour temperature throughout the day, and Face Recognition in compatible video doorbells and cameras uses on-device intelligence from Apple TV or HomePod to identify visitors. The Home app and HomeKit are built to be private and secure, so all information about a user’s home accessories is end-to-end encrypted.
Digital versions of car keys give users a secure way to use iPhone to unlock and start their car. Car keys can be easily shared using Messages, or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost, and are available today for compatible cars using NFC technology.8
Safari offers a Privacy Report so users can easily see which cross-site trackers have been blocked, secure password monitoring to help users detect saved passwords that may have been involved in a data breach, and built-in translation for entire webpages.9
Health has all-new experiences to manage sleep and better understand audio levels that may affect hearing health. A new Health Checklist that includes Emergency SOS, Medical ID, ECG, fall detection, and more offers users a centralised place to manage health and safety The Weather app keeps users up to date on severe weather events, and a new next-hour precipitation chart shows minute-by-minute precipitation when rain is in the forecast.11
Accessibility features include Back Tap, which offers a quick new way to trigger gestures, tasks, and accessibility shortcuts, sign language detection in Group FaceTime, and Sound Recognition, which uses on-device intelligence to notify users when the sound of a fire alarm or doorbell is detected. VoiceOver, the industry’s leading screen reader for the blind community, now automatically recognises what is displayed visually onscreen so more apps and web experiences are accessible to more people.