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How to use iOS 16’s new privacy and security features

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Apple’s new iOS 16 operating system launched today for the iPhone. The major new release includes an all-new customizable Lock Screen experience, the ability to send and edit messages already sent, and multi-stop routing in Maps as some of the most notable additions.

Since this is Apple, privacy and security are also important concerns. Here are the new features of iOS 16 in those areas, why they are important and how to use them.

[Photo: courtesy of Apple]

Protect your most private photos

  • What it is: With iOS 16, you can now lock your hidden and recently deleted albums in the Photos app behind biometric security Face ID or Touch ID, depending on which iPhone you have.
  • Why it’s important: We often have personal and private photos on our phones that we don’t want others to see, such as intimate images of partners or photos of a worrisome mole that we want to discuss with our doctor. The Photos app has long allowed you to move these images to a hidden album, but now you can lock that album behind Face ID or Touch ID so that no one with access to your phone can view them. The same goes for your “Recently Deleted” album.
  • How to use: Open the Settings app and tap Photos. Now toggle the switch next to “Use Face ID” (or Touch ID) to enable biometric security for these albums.

Keep your mind safe with lockable notes

  • What it is: As with the Photos app above, iOS 16 now also lets you lock notes of your choice behind Face ID or Touch ID biometric authentication.
  • Why it’s important: Some people use the Notes app for simple things like grocery lists. But others keep sensitive information, such as credit card PINs or Social Security numbers, written there for quick reference. Before iOS 15, you could lock individual notes in the Notes app behind a password, but iOS 16 makes it much easier by allowing you to lock them behind Face ID or Touch ID — no password to remember.
  • How to use: Open the Settings app and tap Notes > Password. Select the manual method you want to use to lock notes (your iPhone’s lock screen PIN or a passcode), then toggle the switch next to “Use Face ID” (or Touch ID) to enable biometric security for your selected notes.

Using Face ID in landscape orientation

  • What it is: Previously, you had to hold your iPhone in portrait orientation to unlock your iPhone with Face ID. Now with iOS 16, Face ID unlock also works in landscape orientation.
  • Why it’s important: It’s not safer, just more convenient. Many people use their iPhones with larger screens in landscape orientation for applications such as games and video watching, and now they no longer have to rotate the phone to portrait orientation to use Face ID. However, Face ID in landscape mode only works with iPhone 13 series and later.
  • How to use: After installing iOS 16 on your iPhone, just use Face ID as you normally would, but now in both landscape and portrait orientation.

Prevent apps from seeing what’s on your clipboard

  • What it is: When you copy something, such as text or an image, it lives on an invisible clipboard on your iPhone. Then when you open another app and paste what you copied, that app pulls the data from your clipboard. But now in iOS 16, apps need your explicit information before they can access information on your clipboard.
  • Why it’s important: Some apps have appeared to automatically retrieve information from a user’s clipboard without the user’s knowledge. This can give them access to sensitive details, such as parts of copied private messages.
  • How to use: In iOS 16, clipboard permission protection is automatically enabled. When you paste information into an app for the first time, you will see a popup asking if you want to allow the app to paste. If you deny permission, the app will not be able to see the information in the clipboard.

See which people and apps you share data with

  • What it is: In iOS 16, the new Security Check feature is a comprehensive privacy and security check that allows the user to quickly disconnect their data from people and apps “if circumstances or trust level change.”
  • Why it’s important: Over time, we may provide more of our information, such as location, photos, and calendars, to apps and people. It is possible to forget who has access to our location, for example if we granted it a long time ago. But with Safety Check, iPhone users can now quickly see and revoke access to their data which people, apps, and devices have access to.
  • How to use: Open the Settings app and tap Privacy & Security. Then tap Security Check. Finally, tap Manage sharing & access and the Security Checkup wizard will walk you through a review of your data.

Shut everyone down with Emergency Reset

  • What it is: In an emergency, iOS 16 allows you to revoke your data access from all people and apps.
  • Why it’s important: Our phones may reveal our location, travel route and other personal information to people and apps that we have previously granted access to. But Apple is aware that domestic violence often uses this data to track and monitor their victims. Now, victims who need to quickly flee an abuser can quickly cut off the abuser’s access to their data and immediately change their Apple account password.
  • How to use: Open the Settings app and tap Privacy & Security. Then tap Security Check. Finally, tap Disaster Recovery and the Disaster Recovery Wizard will help you revoke data access.

Quickly exit the security check

  • What it is: A way to hide that you are trying to use Safety Check on an abusive partner.
  • Why it’s important: Apple’s new Safety Check features are great security measures. But the company also understands that using the feature can put people in immediate danger if an abusive partner is nearby and looking over their shoulder. That’s why the company has a simple security measure called “Quick Exit” that automatically closes the Security Checkup and Settings app and returns the user to the home screen.
  • How to use: No matter what stage of security check you are in (Settings > Privacy & Security > Security Check), you can tap the “Quick Shutdown” button in the top right corner of the screen to quickly return to the home screen.

Enter Lockdown Mode

  • What it is: Lockdown Mode is an extreme security measure that Apple has designed for journalists, activists and other individuals who could be the target of hacking by state-sanctioned actors. Entering Lockdown Mode disables many iOS features, but also shuts down the most common vectors of malicious attacks.
  • Why it’s important: iPhones are important tools for journalists and activists, who are increasingly targeted by governments around the world. In these situations, the lives of victims themselves can be endangered.
  • How to use: Most iPhone users never have to worry about activating Lockdown mode. But anyone can access it by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > Lock Mode and following the on-screen wizard.

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