Encrypted messaging apps are having trouble with Apple’s iOS 13 privacy changes

Apple is continuing its focus on privacy in iOS 13, which will affect the encrypted messaging apps first. The apps have to significantly change how their apps work, the developers of apps scrambling to get it done ahead of the release of iOS 13 to the public.

According to a report from The Information, privacy changes are affecting far more apps than just Messenger and WhatsApp, with encrypted messaging apps also having to fix issues that would make functions within the apps fail to work on the introduction of iOS 13. Services including SecEMS, Signal and Wickr etc., need to be updated.

The root of the issue is that Apple’s decision to force developers away from using the PushKit API, which was originally designed for VoIP calls, but has since been used for data collection, and also for encrypting messages. That’s because some apps use PushKit to decrypt messages in the background.

While there are good reasons to use a background process such as this, the ability to have an app running in the background also opens up the possibility of other issues, such as apps collecting location data or other types of monitoring, as well as draining the iPhone’s battery.

The major change to PushKit is that it’ll now only be used for internet calls — and as such, developers won’t be able to use it for anything else, including message encryption and decryption.

Apple gave developers until April 2020 to comply with the changes — however if developers want their apps to make use of new features iOS 13, they’ll need to make those changes much sooner.

“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,” Apple said in the report.