iOS, Privacy and App Setups

With my latest setup I looked to merge a privacy oriented app selection, the right privacy settings whilst also having a beautiful widget and app layout. (Some open source apps are ugly, there’s no denying they’re great efforts by lots of people but I can’t help loving gorgeous UI).

Background

Following some past successful posts on /r/iOSSetups before. I thought with my next post I’d go for something that’s important – especially in 2019 where Privacy has become one of the largest topics in the tech industry.

Whilst iOS is restrictive in customisation (it’s better now, but still behind Android in pure theming etc), there’s still a large degree of customisation that can be done.

With my latest setup I looked to merge a privacy oriented app selection, the right privacy settings whilst also having a beautiful widget and app layout. (Some open source apps are ugly, there’s no denying they’re great efforts by lots of people but I can’t help loving gorgeous UI).

The Phone

I’m running an iPhone X.

I’ve never been a release day guy, and before this, I’ve had a plethora of devices. My first device was a Galaxy S2. Since then I’ve had Nexus Devices, and started on iPhone at the 6S+ era.

I upgraded to the iPhone X after seeing the keynote and thinking; this is the new form, the new UI and is going to be where to get your foot in the door on what Apple is going to do with iOS 12 onward.

The Apps

The apps and why I’ve got them and where I’ve protected my data in the sight of apps which are known to take as much as possible.

Page 1

My Main Home Screen
  • Bear – I wrote this whole post in this app. When it comes to mark up of any kind, Bear is your go to. Privacy wise, they have a great policy where they cannot access any of your notes, whatsoever. Evernote has admitted they’ll look at users notes from time to time for “Machine Learning” purposes. Switch to Bear.Bear Privacy Policy
  • PocketCasts – If you don’t make an account they store nothing about you at all. If you do, the data is minimal, like account details, subscriptions and login attempts. Even that data is never shared, as dictated by the privacy policy here.PocketCast Privacy Policy
  • TimePage – This is one I’m going to say you need to be wary of. I was looking for a more complete Calendar app than the stock iOS app. TimePage is great in looks, features but it’s policy dictates it shares data with Google for Analytics. You can minimise this data though through other apps and specific settings usage.TimePage Privacy Policy
  • Slide for Reddit – I love Slide. Love it. Move other Apollo and your weird cult following, Slide is the way to go. I’ve made a post about this before with a brief example of the customisation available. It’s privacy policy is great too, it collects no info at all.Slide Privacy Policy
  • (Stock) Photos – Apple is great when it comes to privacy, with photo analytics and scanning all done on device, and allowing us to search by face, word etc. So I’m not going to add my photos to Google Photos for that. I pay to upload my photos to iCloud Photos – I would like to move away from this as we know Apple can access iCloud data and share it, but for now, this is better than the alternatives (DropBox, Google Photos, Box etc.)
  • (Stock) Safari – Apple has made leaps and bounds to user privacy in Safari. Some may opt to use apps like Firefox Quantum to protect themselves further. I instead use AdGuard Pro with custom DNS, Filters and Subscriptions to get the same features in stock Safari apps.
  • Slack – Sadly I have to use this for work, it utilises an Enterprise Account, so I’m not concerned about my Data or Messages being scrapped by Slack for analytics – we’ve paid to opt out of that with our license
  • Spendee – I’m trying to take more care of my Finances now, and this is the app I love the look and feature set of the most. I’ve reached out to them regarding their privacy policy – as they share data with Google, Facebook and ZenDesk. For the two former I believe it’s purely for setting up an account purposes (I used a private anonymous email I host myself). ZenDesk I believe is for support tickets. Will update once I get a response.Spendee Privacy Policy

Page 2

My Secondary Home Screen
  • Trello – Again, I have to have this for Work. It’s also under an Enterprise license, so I’m not worry about my personal data being scrapped by Trello. I’ve also limited Photos, Location and Other Access that Trello prompted me for. They are also owned by Atlassian so bear that in mind Trello Privacy Policy
  • Bitwarden – I’ve tried all the Password Managers, 1Password, LastPass, KeepPass and I’ve always come back to Bitwarden. It’s open source, rated secure in third party reviews, and you can self host the platform if you don’t want to use the cloud sync option. They have a great App, Browser Extensions and Desktop Apps. Their developers are also active on Reddit over at r/Bitwarden Bitwarden Privacy Policy
  • Twitterrific – Being Private doesn’t mean killing all social networks – it’s just about being clever with your Data. I use a third party Twitter app, which in itself takes the first step to limiting Twitter from collecting device data. Twitterrific itself has a great privacy policy which shows minimal data collection as well. Twitter on the other hand is a different story, but is one of two outlets I allow myself.Twitterrific Privacy Policy
  • Mail – I considered using FastMail but found it’s outdated GUI and next to no considerable benefit against Stock was not worth it. All my email comes through the stock app, and Email Privacy Testersays it’s pretty good – so going to stick with that for now!
  • (Stock) Shortcuts – Previously known as workflow, this is my custom shortcuts and scripts for day to day tasks. My current project is Reddit Removal Tools.
  • Feedly – RSS Feed as YouTube Replacement. Add in my YouTube Subscription RSS feeds into here and watch them using the in-app browser. If quality is an issue – just use my work desktop and Firefox to view.
  • Instagram – This is my crux. I want to get rid of it. Yes I know it’s Facebook, but it’s how I keep in contact with most family, my account is private, and I’ve limited microphone, location and as many in app permissions as possible. I’m considering the switch to VSCO, but my family isn’t on there, and I’d have a hard time convincing them to switch. One benefit of my Instagram account is that it was never linked to Facebook, I created it before that was a thing, so uses an old email. Ads are blocked using AdGuard Pro. Edit: turns out the lack of Ads in my instagram feed is a co-incidence with the time of enabling AdGuard. Thought they were linked, user /u/Martyn-Lee on reddit sent me down a rabbithole that shows it was not.
  • Discord –  I moderate a lot of subreddits, and all of them use Discord Groups to chat about what to moderate and do. I really don’t like discord’s user policy, but it uses an alias and anonymous email, so I have no qualms with them using fake personal data. When it comes to the app, I’ve limited what I can with their access permissions, but nothing shared on Discord is connected to my “real” life.

Dock

  • Messages – iMessage, secure and simple. Just don’t backup to iCloud – that’s when your data isn’t safe.
  • WhatsApp – oof. The Facebook app that people don’t even know Facebook owns. Sadly the majority of my family uses this and I can convince them all to move to iMessage or Signal. I’ve limited WhatsApp access to Microphone, Location and turned off App Analytics. Sadly you can’t avoid it entirely and Facebook will use your “metadata” where possible here. (Although I opted out when that option was still a thing!)
  • Apple Music – I’ve used Tidal and Spotify but I’ve always come back to Apple Music, purely because I love the system integration, and I’m kinda a fan of that white space (even though I know a lot hate it!) I am however interested to see what Dark Mode Apple brings to this app in the coming year.
  • Halide – I adore this Camera app, it’s developers are active on Reddit in iPhoneography, and it’s privacy policy is great as well, your data (geotags etc) are safe with this app.Halide Privacy Policy

Folders

If it’s in a folder it’s not important really. (With some caveats).

  • Bookmarks – Rather than downloading apps for sites I use, like IMDB, LinkedIn, I made them homescreen bookmarks. No data tracking as a result thanks to Safari and AdGuard Pro.
  • Apps – All the Apple stock apps that I need for Shortcuts, or handoff. I have faith these are not harvesting my Data due to community feedback on Apples Privacy Policies. That being said I have disabled all analytics and location sharing for the purposes of recommendations as well.
  • Life – I’m health conscious so have some Health Apps. Cardiogram to contribute towards health studies, AutoSleep and Lifesum as well. I use these to log my intakes and sleep, with anonymous user details and my “throwaway” email. This folder also contains my banking apps.
  • Utilities – This houses apps like AdGuard or System Utilities. It also has some work apps like FreshDesk for ticket monitoring. Finally, my wordpress management app and drone control app are here as well.

Widgets

The iOS Widgets
  • TimePage Monthly Overview – This gives me a quick view of a heat map of my week. The darker the circle, the more events that day. If you do show more, you get the heat map for the month, events that day (or the day you select) and the option to add events. Really good use of the Widget Functionality by Moleskine.
  • PocketCasts Up Next – I listen to a lot of podcasts, and have my unplayed and new shows automatically set to download and add to up next, so here I can quickly see what’s next, and what I can expect to listen to today.
  • Shortcuts – I use shortcuts daily and will do a write up on these in a separate article. Show more will give a full set of everything I have favourited to here.
  • Darkroom – This is the editing counterpart to Halide and has a great feature set – including hashtag posts. Saves me considerable time when posting that fresh look to insta.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the above, and it’s given you an insight into the small but great leaps into a privacy conscious iOS.

#ios #privacy

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