After updating to iOS 14 or getting a new iPhone with iOS 14 pre-installed, you will see orange and green dots appearing on the top of your iPhone every now and then. These dots appear on all supported iOS 14 devices, from iPhone 6S. to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and are there to protect you, but how?
One of Apple’s big goals with iOS 14 has been to improve user privacy, especially by adding more transparency to show you how your iPhone uses your data. You’ll see an alert when content is pasted from your clipboard, when apps use connected cameras, and when apps want to connect to your local network, and you gain more control over how apps interact with parts of your iPhone̵
But the simplest yet effective privacy and security update in iOS 14 is those orange and green dots, which tell you when an app is using your microphone or camera. An orange dot means an app is using your microphone and a green dot means it is your camera. When an app is listening to microphone audio and using the camera, the orange dot may flash briefly before turning solid green, but this is not always the case.
If you use the “Differentiate without color” accessibility setting, all microphone usage is indicated with an orange dot, but camera usage remains a green dot.
These indicators appear on the right side of your status bar at the top of the iPhone in portrait orientation. If you’re in landscape mode on an iPhone with Face ID, the dots don’t move from that position, so they always appear just to the right of the TrueDepth camera array. On models with Touch ID, the colored dots can move, causing them to remain in the top right corner of your screen in any direction.
It’s pretty obvious when an app on your iPhone is using the mic or camera, but if it’s using both, you might see that orange dot for a short second before turning solid green, as mentioned earlier. If you are live streaming, recording a video, or making a video call, it will show green. If you are only recording a voice memo or using the dictation feature on your keyboard, it will be orange.
Where the function really is useful if you see a point in the status bar for no apparent reason. For example, if you scroll through a social media app and you suddenly see an orange dot, you wonder why that app should use your microphone at that point.
While the App Store is pretty good at blocking malware and spyware, it is possible that you still have a shady app trying to eavesdrop on you, or that a malicious hacker has compromised your system and recorded your every move. In rare cases, an app running in the background may be able to access your microphone or camera and to determine which app it is, you can just open the Control Center, which will indicate at the top which app is using your microphone or camera.
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