One of the big points Apple has made since the inception of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 is privacy and security. These are pillars for the company and have been well before the latest release of their mobile platform. In this new release however, they are giving users visual indicators of when an app has accessed their iPhone or iPad’s camera and microphone. It is a subtle thing but it also helps you keep tabs on just want on your phone a particular app has access to on it.
The indicators come in the form of a green or orange dot above the WiFi and Battery indicator on your iPhone or iPad. If the camera is being accessed, you will see a small green indicator dot. If your microphone is being accesses, you will see an orange indicator dot. Take a look at the screen captures below from my iPhone. The first is the camera indicator captured when I was using the Camera app. The second is the microphone indicator when I was using the new Translate app.
Generally speaking, you probably don’t have to worry about seeing these all that often. iOS over the past few years has been vigilant about requiring developers to ask for permission to aspects of your iPhone, be it access to some of your data or to sensors and features of the phone itself. But, as we all know, it is not perfect and developers do end up getting access to aspects of your iPhone they don’t really need. Rarely is this malicious but rather more often a case of “its easier to ask for everything than ask for one particular thing” when it comes to permissions.
These indicators are just a visual reminder that the app you are using has access to your camera or microphone. But if you open up an app that has no real reason to need access to say your microphone, the visual indicator should serve as a red flag for you to go and investigate. It also shows Apple’s continued efforts, although not perfect, to inform their customers of security and privacy on their devices through little things like this in iOS 14.