iPhone: What do the orange and green dots in the status bar mean?

iOS 14 includes several major new features and many minor changes and visual updates. You may have noticed some new indicators in the status bar, in the right notch of your iPhone, and wondering what they are for. These new status symbols appear as orange and green dots or circles that appear above the signal strength indicator.

It turns out that these points are actually informative indicators that help to reassure and protect your privacy. On MacBooks and iMacs, Apple has a physical green LED that sits next to the webcam. Although they appear next to the cell signal and Wi-Fi status indicators, they have nothing to do with network connectivity.

When you access the camera, the LED indicator will light up to let you know that an application in your system is monitoring the camera feed. IPhones and iPads don’t have physical LEDs, so Apple simulated the experience through software.

What does the orange dot mean on iPhone?

The orange dot means that an app on your phone is using the microphone. The microphone is listening and can be recorded. This can appear when you’re using Siri or Dictation, for example, and you need the iPhone to transcribe your speech to text. Assuming all apps are acting in good faith, the orange dot should only appear when you’re doing something that requires the microphone.

If the orange dot is displayed in contexts where it doesn’t seem like it should be required, it may indicate that an app is abusing your privacy. If you see it showing up when it shouldn’t, you can contact the developer to find out why it is being used. It could simply be a bug with the app, rather than intentional spy activity.

In previous versions of iOS, users weren’t sure when the microphone was accessible unless the app was in the background. When apps are recording the microphone in the background, iOS displays a red pill indicator on the left side of the notch. This behavior hasn’t changed with iOS 14, but now the orange light will appear on the right side of the notch at the same time.

What does the green dot mean on iPhone?

The green dot appears when an app is using the camera, such as when you take a photo. Access to the camera also implies access to the microphone; in this case, you will not see the orange dot separately. The color green corresponds to the LEDs used in Apple’s MacBook and iMac products.

If an app is accessing the camera when it doesn’t make sense, it could mean that the app is invading your privacy. iOS doesn’t know why an app needs to access camera hardware at all times, so your best course of action is to contact the support channels for the app you’re worried about. They can do something bad, in which case you can remove the app, or it could just be a bug.

Green light on does not mean the camera stream is recording and saving; all iOS knows is that the app can access the camera feed at that point. It doesn’t know what the app is doing with the data.

“Recently” control center

If you shoot the control center, a few minutes after using the camera or microphone, the control center user interface can tell you what happened. It will display the type of access (microphone or camera) and the name of the application that used the sensor. This provides an extra layer of transparency, in case you missed the little circular dot indicator.

Again, the system doesn’t know what the app is doing with the information it collects from the microphone or camera. The data can be used on the fly, it can stay entirely on the device, or it can be saved permanently and sent over the network.

The point is, if iOS draws attention to when these features are used, apps that access them unnecessarily will be named and humiliated by the community at large. Awareness brings change. Hopefully most iOS apps behave well and these status indicators will never show up when you wouldn’t expect them.

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