On an iPhone or iPad, you’ll see orange and green dots at the top right corner of the screen—above the cellular, Wi-Fi, and battery icons—when an app is using your microphone or camera. Here’s what you need to know.
These dots on your status bar are just like the colored green LED next to the MacBook’s webcam. They provide a visual indication whenever your iPhone or iPad’s microphone or camera is being used by an app. These orange and green circles were added in the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates, which Apple released in September 2020.
The Orange Dot Means Your Microphone Is Active
The orange dot indicator indicates that an application on your iPhone is using the microphone. For example, if you’re talking on the phone to someone, you’ll see an orange dot. If you record a voice memo, you’ll see an orange dot. If you’re talking to Siri, you’ll see an orange dot. You’ll see an orange dot when third-party apps are using your microphone, too.
If you see the orange dot when you don’t expect to, that could be an indication an app is abusing access to your microphone.
The orange dot doesn’t tell you what an app is doing with your microphone. It might be recording you and uploading it to a remote server, or it might simply be recording audio and saving it to your phone. All the dot tells you is that an app is using your microphone for something.
In older versions of the iPhone’s operating system—that is, iOS 13 and earlier—there was no indication when an app was using your microphone. You could allow or deny permission to use your microphone for each individual app, but you wouldn’t know when an app was using your microphone. Now, you’ll know for sure that Facebook isn’t listening to you while you’re using it—because your iPhone will tell you if it is.
The Green Dot Means Your Camera Is Active
The green dot indicator appears when an application on your iPhone is using the camera. For example, if you’re participating in a FaceTime call, you’ll see a green dot. If you’re recording a video, you’ll see a green dot. If an app is taking a photo, you’ll see a green dot.
Note that camera access includes microphone access. So, if you see the green dot, an app is using both your camera and your microphone. You will not see the green dot and the orange dot at the same time.
If you see the green dot when you don’t expect to, that could be a sign an app is abusing access to your camera.
The green dot doesn’t tell you what an app is doing with your camera. It might simply be providing a preview screen so you can take a photo or record a video when you choose. Or, it might be capturing your video and uploading it to a remote server. Either way, you’ll see a green dot—all it tells you is that an app is using your camera (and, potentially, your microphone.)
How to See Which App Was Using Your MIcrophone or Camera
If you see an orange or green indicator dot, you can quickly see which app is accessing your microphone or camera.
To do so, swipe down from the top-right corner of your iPhone or iPad’s screen—right above the dot. The Control Center will open, and you’ll see the name of the app using your microphone or camera at the top of the screen.
Even if the orange or green dot has vanished because an app only used the microphone or camera momentarily, you can swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen. You’ll see the app’s name followed by the word “recently,” indicating that a particular app was recently accessing your microphone or camera but isn’t accessing it at the moment.
How to Stop Apps From Using Your Mic and Camera
If you don’t like the way an app is using your microphone or camera, you have two options: You could remove the app from your iPhone or revoke its permission to access the microphone and camera.
To remove an app from your phone, long-press it on the home screen, tap “Remove App,” and tap “Delete App.” You can also find the app in your App Library, long-press it, and tap “Delete App.”
If you want to keep an app installed but don’t trust it with microphone and camera access, you can head to Settings > Privacy > Microphone and Settings > Privacy > Camera. Locate the application in each list and tap the switch at the right side of the app to remove its access to your microphone or camera.
If you change your mind in the future and want to restore the app’s access to this data, you can return to this screen and toggle the app’s camera or microphone back on.
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