Apple will reportedly restrict background activity in WhatsApp, other apps in iOS 13

When Apple launches iOS 13 to the public later this year, the new software will reportedly include a major change for apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The Information has the report this week, outlining Apple’s intent to restrict background activity for apps that take advantage of the PushKit VoIP API to make internet voice calls from the app. That includes mega-popular apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, among others.

Limiting third-party app access to data on an iPhone has become a popular talking point for security concerns recently, and, as a result, Apple will apparently be cracking down on these apps in an effort to restrict access. Specifically, these third-party apps will see their background activities restricted in huge ways:

The change will restrict a feature that apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp used to make voice calls over the internet. Right now, the calling feature in these apps runs in the background even when it’s not in use, ensuring the apps can connect calls faster but also making it possible for them to perform other, unrelated tasks such as collecting data. Now, Apple is restricting that background access so that it can only be used for internet calls.

For WhatsApp, this change could lead to a lot of work for the developers moving forward. The app apparently uses the PushKit VoIP API to handle its end-to-end encryption for conversations, which means Apple’s impending change will require the developers to make bigger changes to address the alteration.

It may have a particularly heavy impact on WhatsApp, which has been using the internet calling feature in a variety of ways, including for implementing the app’s end-to-end encryption, the people said. Other messaging app developers, who have long relied on the internet calling feature to keep their apps running in the background on Apple mobile devices, will also have to rebuild their apps, said people familiar with the issue.

Meanwhile, Facebook isn’t too worried about the change. While Apple itself did not comment on the story regarding the new restrictions in iOS 13, a spokesperson for Facebook had this to say:

The changes to the upcoming iOS releases are not insignificant, but we are in conversations with Apple on how best to address,” the spokesperson said. “To be clear—we are using the PushKit VoIP API to deliver a world-class, private messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data.

That’s a pretty big change for iOS 13, and one that may cause some headaches for some users out there in the wild, depending on how the restrictions actually work in the real world.

What do you think of the changes?