O Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and other applications must be redesigned to work in the iOS 13: the new system of Apple puts more limits on the API used to VoIP calls, which until then allowed data collection in the background. The company has been highlighting privacy as a differentiator of its products, including the iPhone.
Facebook says in a statement to The Information that “the changes in the next version of iOS are not insignificant, but we are talking to Apple about how to best address them”.
In addition, Facebook promises that it does not collect data through the VoIP calling feature: “let it be clear, we are using the VoIP PushKit API to provide a private and global messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data”.
iOS 13 limits data collection during VoIP calls
IOS offers an API for developers called PushKit: it wakes up the iPhone when it receives a notification, opens the corresponding application and allows it to run in the background. This is useful for VoIP calls, as it consumes less battery power than maintaining an always-on connection to a server.
Apple explains that “PushKit notifications never display alerts, nor add a number to your app’s icon, nor play sounds”. That is, the user does not know when the application with PushKit is running – and he may be in the background collecting data.
On iOS 13, PushKit only allows an app to run in the background to make VoIP calls and nothing else. Developers have until April 2020 to adapt their apps on the App Store.
Some apps like Snapchat and WeChat use PushKit to stay active in the background and receive messages faster; they will also have to adapt.
A few years ago, Apple discovered that Facebook was using the API for VoIP calls in its main app, even after Messenger was separated into another app in 2014. The company stopped this practice in 2015, saying it was a bug.
Messenger, for making calls over the internet, still uses PushKit: “what it does in the background, whether it be accepting calls, listening all the time or updating the content of the main app, everything is unclear to Apple”, explains Phillip Shoemaker, former head of the team that analyzed apps from the App Store, The Information.
With information: The Information.