iOS 13 is changing VoIP APIs preventing apps like WhatsApp from collecting background data

Facebook Messenger on an iPhone XS
Facebook Messenger on an iPhone XS (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • iOS 13 will limit background access for third party VoIP apps.
  • Currently, VoIP apps can access background information when they are running.
  • This change will affect Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat and more.

When iOS 13 rolls out later this year, it will introduce a new modification to third party VoIP APIs that will prevent messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat from collecting data in the background while the apps are open, according to a report from The Information.

When third party apps like WhatsApp are using VoIP, or voice over internet protocol, making calls using the phone's internet connection, they can also collect data in the background. The report doesn't specify what this data entailed, but it could have been location and other pertinent user information. Of course Facebook has denied it ever used this feature, but the door was still open and Apple is closing it with iOS 13.

Here's what Facebook had to say to the report:

"The changes to the upcoming iOS releases are not insignificant, but we are in conversations with Apple on how best to address," the spokesperson said. "To be clear—we are using the PushKit VoIP API to deliver a world-class, private messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data."

With iOS 13, the only background data these apps will have access to is for internet calling.

Facebook put on a brave face, but this could affect its two messaging services—it owns both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp—in a significant way. It will force it to redesign the app to account for the changes. WhatsApp already relies the APIs for many of its core functions, including end-to-end encryption.

It's unclear how or if the change will also significantly affect other third party apps like Snapchat and WeChat.

Lucky for Facebook, it is one of the biggest companies in the world, so it should update its app in no time. The report mentions it has held talks with Apple for the best way to update the apps with the looming change.

Meanwhile, Apple continues to sure up its products for its privacy-focus stance as it becomes even more of a heated topic for consumers.

Everything you need to know about iOS 13

Danny Zepeda