Apple’s new iOS 13 mobile operating system introduces privacy changes that limit data collection practices when using the VoIP (Voice over IP) API, which has resulted in consequences for developers of apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
The Information reports that makers of the above apps – as well as other apps such as Wickr, Wire, Signal, and others – are now “scrambling” to revamp their code to protect key privacy features that may be compromised by the changes.
An Apple spokesperson told The Information that Apple is working with developers to ease their concerns.
“We’ve heard feedback on the API changes introduced in iOS 13 to further protect user privacy and are working closely with iOS developers to help them implement their feature requests.”
However, Julia Weiss, a spokesperson for Threema, told The Information that Apple’s changes may actually result “in the opposite of the privacy goals the changes were supposed to achieve.”
Apple’s new privacy rules limit the PushKit API – which is designed to be used for VoIP calls but has over time seen its use expanded to other purposes, such as collecting data and controlling encryption. iOS 13 limits the PushKit API to internet calls, all other uses have been eliminated.
WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging apps are currently using the VoIP APIs for decrypting messages in the background, and the new changes disable that capability.
While developers are working around the limitations, some developers say its a significant engineering effort. While the devs are exploring alternative tools, many say they are inferior to using the existing PushKit option.
Developers are facing an Apple-imposed April 2020 deadline to comply with the PushKit API changes. However, developers that want to take advantage of new iOS 13 features must follow the new restrictions sooner.