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Security & privacy

Privacy pro tip: New way to see exactly which apps are spying on you

It’s September, and that usually means we’ll see both hardware and software releases from Apple. The tech giant recently put out updated versions of its operating systems, new iPhone 13 models, and some new entries in the iPad family. Look for Apple Watch Series 7 later this fall.

Apple’s iOS 15 comes with new privacy options and more versatile FaceTime, among other features. Tap or click here to check the best new iOS 15 features.

Developers are pushing privacy features more and more lately, which is a good thing. Thanks to iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, both the iPhone and iPad offer more options to protect your personal information. Not only that, but you can spy on those who are spying on you! Read on for more.

Here’s the backstory

A new iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 feature called Record App Activity allows iPhone and iPad users to learn what apps are doing to track their data over a certain period of time.

With this feature, you get a summary of the access apps have regarding network resources and data. This includes:

  • When apps access certain types of user data such as photos, media library, screen sharing, location and contacts.
  • When apps access your microphone and camera.
  • When apps contact network domains and how many times they access them. This includes websites you visit from within an app.

You can use the summary to see how much access your apps have and take steps to change it if needed. The system keeps a record on your device over the last seven days of app activity. You need to use an app long enough for the Record App Activity tool to thoroughly test the app’s data, resource and network accesses.

Get things started


You have to turn on the feature to get your summary reports. Here’s how: Open Settings > Privacy > Record App Activity and slide the toggle next to Record App Activity to the right to enable the feature.

You’ll have to wait a few days for a report to be generated. Tapping Save App Activity will let you export the report as a JSON file, which takes a bit of technical knowledge to access and interpret.

To see the report within Record App Activity:

The App Privacy report is easier to understand and navigate, but it is not yet available for iOS 15. Once it gets implemented in a future update, you’ll find it by going to Settings > Privacy > App Privacy Report. This report will be available after you toggle on Record App Activity.

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