VoIP background data-gathering to be restricted in iOS 13

Privacy-centric changes mean voice-over-IP apps can’t run effectively while being used in the background

Changes taking hold with Apple's next major mobile operating system upgrade will see restrictions placed on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps used by swathes of organisations as part of their communications setup.

With iOS 13, messaging apps and software used for Wi-Fi powered voice calling will no longer be able to effectively collect data while users have them open in the background. Such apps can only run in the background for purposes of connecting calls when not actively being used.

This means the developers of widely used VoIP applications across UK businesses, like RingCentral or 8x8, may have to rewrite elements of the software in order to comply with the changes, according to The Information.

App developers will be given until April 2020 to make any necessary changes, despite iOS 13 aiming to be released to iPhones as soon as September this year.

This includes Facebook developers, who may have to rewrite elements of both Messenger and WhatsApp in order that these apps no longer collect data from users devices while running in the background.

The changes come as part of a wider push by Apple maker to bolster user privacy amid several controversies and public disputes with developers.

The company reprimanded Facebook at the start of the year for bending strict rules over allowing consumers to access internal apps aimed only at developers. The Research VPN app, developed internally by Facebook but marketed externally, absorbed swathes of user data when installed on iPhones, often in exchange for a cash incentive.

Apple has since unveiled plans to launch its own privacy-focused universal login feature, dubbed Sign In with Apple, which is set to debut in iOS 13.

This feature directly takes aim at social media authentication offered by the likes of Google and Facebook, which are "convenient" but "come at the cost of your privacy" according to the company's head of software engineering Craig Federighi.

The decision to restrict the way in which VoIP software operates on iOS 13 bears resemblance to Apple's plans to restrict the number of applications that are incompatible with its new desktop OS, Catalina.

More than 200 apps were discovered by an iOS developer to be incompatible with the latest iteration of macOS , which was announced at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

IT Pro approached Apple for a statement but the company did not respond at the time of writing.

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