5 Ways Apple’s iOS 13 Public Beta Can Improve Your iPhone Privacy Right Now

June 25, 2019, 7:18 PM UTC

Apple’s iOS 13 public beta for iPhone has finally released to early adopters everywhere. Even though iOS 12’s sequel doesn’t officially launch until fall, Apple is offering an unfinished version of the software, containing most of the upcoming features. Unlike the previous beta release for app developers, the iOS 13 public beta (despite having a few bugs) is meant for average consumers. And if you’re brave enough to jump the gun, you’ll find some upgrades in your privacy settings.

Block unknown callers

iOS 13 beta’s ‘Silence Unknown Callers’ setting

Apple’s new call-blocking feature is sure to be one of the most popular additions to iOS 13. In the Settings app, under Phone, you’ll see a toggle titled, “Silence Unknown Callers” towards the bottom. Tap this and only phone numbers in your contact book will be able to ring your phone—all other callers go straight to voicemail.

Sign in with Apple

iOS 13 beta’s ‘Sign in With Apple’ login page

Apple made a big deal about their sign-on feature during their developer showcase in early June. Similar to sign-in options from Google and Facebook, Apple will let you sign up for new services using your Apple ID as a login. But what separates Apple’s solution from Google and Facebook’s is privacy: Apple can hide your email address from sites you sign up with, offering the site a randomly generated email address instead. The randomly generated address will forward messages to your actual address.

With iOS 13, Apple is mandating that third-party apps include a Sign in with Apple button. While most apps haven’t made the switch yet, the feature is built into the iOS 13 public beta. A site like Card Pointers allowed us to test the new service. After signing into our Apple ID account, we were taken back to the third-party site. Apple’s sign on solution allowed us to hide our email and even change our name to whatever we wanted.

Better privacy for location sharing

iOS 13 beta’s ‘Location Access’ permissions alert

iOS 13 improves the relationship between using third-party apps and keeping your location private. Beta users now have the option of giving an app access to your location just this one time. The feature, presumably, is meant to thwart apps that continue to track users, even if they switched location sharing to “On” one time long ago and eventually forgot about it.

iOS 13 beta’s ‘Location Access’ setting

In the Settings app, under the Location Services section of Privacy, a new option has appeared in iOS 13. Apps requesting access to your location have always had the option of “Always,” “Never,” and “While Using the App.” A new, fourth option, “Ask Next Time,” allows your iPhone to regularly check-in with you regarding location permissions, in case you don’t want your favorite ice cream app keeping tabs on your whereabouts.

Apps must ask for Bluetooth device access

iOS 13 beta’s Bluetooth permissions alert

If you’d prefer certain third-party apps don’t connect to your Bluetooth devices, you can now choose so. In the iOS 13 beta, when you have a Bluetooth device connected, a pop-up will note that the app would like to make use of Bluetooth. From here you can choose if the app can push sounds into your headphones, for example. Want to reverse a decision you made earlier? You can find a new Bluetooth section under Privacy in the Settings app.

iOS 13 beta’s Bluetooth privacy settings

Websites must get permission to use camera, microphone, and location

iOS 13 beta’s Safari camera privacy settings

Safari’s got a few new tricks in iOS 13. One of which pertains to how sites can use your camera, microphone and phone’s GPS chip. The browser will now remember your camera/microphone/location sharing preferences for each site. Or you can mass ban or allow sites from accessing these three data points in Settings under Safari. Simply scroll down to “Settings For Websites.”

How do I sign up to use the iOS 13 beta?

To install the iOS 13 public beta on your device, you’ll have to join Apple’s beta software program. Head to the portal on your iPhone here. Scroll down and you’ll see a bright blue “Sign Up” button. Here, Apple will ask you to log into your account. Once you do, scroll down. Under the iOS section, tap the link that says “enroll your iOS device.” From here, Apple suggests you backup your device (we do too). Once that is complete, download and install Apple’s beta profile (found here). This will allow you to update your iPhone to the iOS 13 beta from your Settings app, under General > Software Update.

iOS 13 is expected to officially release sometime this fall.

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