iOS Permissions

Every so often, it helps to take a step back and examine the way things are being done. This applies to our day-to-day routine, or perhaps our workout regimen. I’ve also found that it applies to software.

iOS is no exception to this. Here is a software product that has been through vast changes since its creation. A good majority of the changes have been for the better, and iOS 8, which is mere weeks away, promises to bring more awesome goodies to the table.

But, from time to time, it pays to look at the way things are being done. We have to ask ourselves, “Is this truly the best way?”

I feel that we’ve reached that fork in the road when it comes to the way iOS handles permission requests for apps. As more features are added to our devices, more permissions are required for apps that wish to use these features. It’s gotten to the point that some apps require you to go through a whole checklist of permissions before you can even begin using the app.

The permission handling in iOS has become a frustrating affair. Not only do the numerous pop-up alerts annoy me, but it irritates me even more when I accidentally decline a permission because of speeding through the app setup process.

As discussed on today’s episode of Let’s Talk iOS, I’m convinced that there’s a better way to handle permissions in iOS. There’s a less intrusive, less frustrating way to handle requests for access to the various features on your device. Check out our video inside for an explanation of the problem, and a demonstration of the solution.

The best way to improve permission handling is to present all of the permissions that the app may request up front. Not only do you gain the advantage of equalizing the first launch experience across all apps, you reduce initial setup time, and make it less likely that mistakes will be made.

iOS Permission Handling

Out with the old, in with the new and improved

Instead of two, three, four, or five pop-ups on launch, you receive one pop-up containing all of the permission request toggles on one page. Users can then pick and choose which permissions they wish to allow, or they can deny all or approve all in one fell swoop.

This is how I propose that we fix permission handling in iOS. What do you think?

  • Mr.Coolfreak

    Wow that’s an awesome concept and makes a lot more sense, I know most people don’t even read the permissions, they just want to use the app and press any button. I wonder if this could be a jailbreak tweak.

    • hsusush

      Not really it kinda needs to be implemented by apple

  • Mike

    That is an android

    • Sort of. There are key differences (toggles).

      • James Gunaca

        Instead of toggles, from a UI standpoint, I think they should be checkboxes that you tap to add/remove. The toggles just don’t look good in this view (IMO).

        Kind of like you have checkboxes next to different iMessage e-mails/phone number.

        Otherwise, I think this is a good approach to permissions.

      • JamesR624

        Actually, with an xposed module (think Cydia for stock Android) you can have this kind of granular control.

  • Warmachine69

    This is nice! The conversation was funny on the podcast I sent you guys a joke via email

  • There honestly should just be an option within ios’s settings to choose always allow all permissions. Most people just do it anyway.

    • DarekSlaby

      That defeats the entire purpose of permissions. If there was an “always allow” option, malware apps would gain access to your info/mic/camera without you even knowing. Jeff’s idea is the best solution

      • Wait. Malware apps on iOS? This is news to me.

      • They get pulled quickly once Apple spots them and their review process helps to reduce the amount of them but yes there are malware apps on iOS even though the amount of them is small and most users won’t encounter them…

      • Indeed. Just read an article that spotted 3 total malware apps since the app stores inception.

      • DarekSlaby

        It doesn’t have to be malware but a rogue developer could easily make an app that wants to exploit users that would have “allow all” option turned on…you wouldn’t want someone taking pics and listening to your convos without your permission. That’s exactly what these permissions do….keep you safe.

      • I hear you. But I choose to allow everything every time I install an app. Also, how would one know if the developer is a rouge developer and they shouldn’t allow permissions? And if they did know, why would they download their app in the first place. Just saying. An accept all switch would work for me. I could always go back and choose to disable them if I wanted.

      • kron1k 

        Enjoy all the stupid notifications from freemium games

      • I don’t play games.

      • Falk M.

        Maybe you won’t know, but some apps don’t traditionally make use of certain features and if a game were to ask me for permission to my contacts you bet I will decline.

        There have been some instances where legit apps requested more than they needed, you know, that’s basically why we got these pop ups in the first place asking for permissions, it’s kind of a new thing on iOS and boy am I glad I have SOME control. Not like stock Android where the system tells you: this is it, those permissions are needed, install it or let it be.
        No denying and using the app, it’s all or nothing. (again, on STOCK Android)

      • DarekSlaby

        That’s because there is no “Always Allow” option.

  • Light

    Nice, background music.

  • White Michael Jackson

    Nice apple will implement in ios 12

    • Kamran Mackey

      Not true.

  • TeddyBearStand

    I think the popups are better in the sense that you know exactly WHEN something is going to be accessed. If you have all of the options at once, you won’t know why your pictures, camera, contacts, or microphone, for example, need to be accessed.

    • That’s a valid point, and probably the only downside to this.

      • TeddyBearStand

        Maybe status bar icons could resolve this, just how the location services icon works?

      • Hmm, I don’t think status bar icons are the answer. Maybe a description of why it’s requesting access via a link in the permission request? That’s a tricky one.

      • TeddyBearStand

        One popup alert isn’t a problem, its just when there are multiple alerts. So the alert should only collate in those predetermined multiple alert cases (like the camera and microphone, sort of intuitive).

      • Beta382

        This is a better idea. I agree with what you said about getting a popup for everything and getting overwhelmed with “why do I need to do all this”. Also, users react too quickly, so they might accidentally deny all when they didn’t mean to, because they were scared by all of the things it was asking for.

        It should ask for only what’s needed at that time, and if it is going to ask for multiple things at that time, *then* it can give a popup with multiple permissions.

      • I think the problem with popups is that they appear all at once when you first launch an app. If they only appeared when an app needs access and with a description of why it needs access the popups probably wouldn’t be much of a problem since no app needs access to your camera, calendar, reminders and motion data all at one time…

    • Niclas

      This is the exact reason why IOS does it like it is right now.
      It’s also the reason it will continue to work like it is.

      But I wish you could change permissions easier within an app.

      • taborneighbor

        Maybe with App Extensions in iOS8 this can be accomplished. Each app could pop un an in-app window directly to their preference pane in App Permissions and modify each aspect as you wish. Then immediately return to the app without leaving it.

      • Niclas

        Good idea, that would be neat.

  • Jeff Shaver

    I think it comes down to the “just-in-time” concept. I don’t believe you actually get those pop ups until the app decides to use that API. In certain cases, it does end up where you have 3-4 pop ups in a row. But most of the time it doesn’t. And like teddybearstand said, the multiple prompts are contextual, which helps us know what is causing the pop up. I agree that there is probably a better way to do it though.

  • mahe

    This popup gives you 1% more battery and allows you to travel back in time 😀

  • Mukund Bhatla

    Brilliant article and I wonder if there is a jailbreak tweak for this! A little off-side question, can anyone suggest me a good theme for iPad mini 1st gen, have come across many, but haven’t found a good one. Any suggestions will be appreciated 🙂

  • Nice but it’s lock like android , what we need something usefull and different in the same way

  • Lagax

    I don’t feel like this would add to my experience in a positive way. I like how a lot of apps handle it, take whatsApp for example (although it is badly developed etc): In the beginning it asks you for your contacts. (It does’t take a brain to understand why) When you want to take a photo for the first time they ask permission to your Camera, when you want to send a location for the first time it asks for your location.

  • Edvard Rølvaag

    I agree with you Jeff, it should be just like that. Dat discuss tho at Let’s Talk iOS! xD

  • Greg S.

    Great idea

  • Chris Rose

    I like the idea, & your mock up was great looking! Would be nice to see this as a tweak if at all possible.

  • DroidGuy360

    man, yall still using iphones? yall must still use big tube tvs too huh? and toaster ovens, and cd players, and toothbrushes. i feel sorry for yall.