iPhone users may have noticed that an orange dot and a green dot now occasionally appear in the top corner of their home screen. These dots, called indicator lights, they users to when an app uses their camera or microphone.
These new features came with the release of Apple’s iOS 14 operating system update, which introduced a number of new tools to help users protect their privacy, and force apps to be more transparent with how they use your phone.
When an orange dot appears in the top-right corner of your screen (right above your cellular bars), it means that an app is using your iPhone’s microphone. For example, if you’re recording a reminder using the Voice Memo app, the orange dot will appear. The orange dot also appears when making phone calls or using the Siri function.
When the green dot appears in the top-right corner of your screen (also right above your cellular bars), it’s an indication that an app is using your iPhone’s camera, or both its camera and microphone. This will appear when, for instance, you open Instagram and use the Stories feature to make a video, or when you place a FaceTime call.
When either dot appears, it’s easy to find out what app is using your iPhone’s microphone or camera. When one of the indicator lights appears, swipe down from the screen’s top-right corner to access the Control Center. At the top, the name of the app will appear, along with whether it used your phone’s camera or microphone.
For Android smartphone users, similar protections were rolled out with the release of the Android 11 operating system. It completely eliminates location, camera, and microphone access in the background. In other words, Apps cannot ask for these three permissions while working in the background. Similarly, in Android 10, if an app uses location in the background, you are notified by a location pin at the top-right corner.
If you still want to monitor apps that may or may not be using your camera or microphone on an Android phone, you can also install a free app called Access Dots that performs much like the Apple indicator lights function.
These indicator lights offer a convenient way to monitor if and when a third-party app uses your device’s microphone or camera without consent. If you find that an app is accessing your microphone or camera without requesting permission first, you should delete and report it.