Accessing User Data and Resources
User privacy is paramount. To help people trust your app, it’s crucial to be transparent about the privacy-related data and resources you require and how you use them. For example, you must request permission to access:
- Personal data, including location, health, financial, contact, and other personally identifying information
- User-generated content like emails, messages, calendar data, contacts, gameplay information, Apple Music activity, HomeKit data, and audio, video, and photo content
- Protected resources like Bluetooth peripherals, home automation features, Wi-Fi connections, and local networks
- Device capabilities like camera and microphone
IMPORTANT Beginning in iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, you must use the AppTrackingTransparency framework to request the user’s permission if you want to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier. To learn more, see User Privacy and Data Use.
When you submit a new or updated app, you must provide details about your privacy practices and the privacy-relevant data you collect so the App Store can display the information on your product page. (You can manage this information at any time in App Store Connect.) People use the privacy details on your product page to make an informed decision before they download your app. To learn more, see App privacy details on the App Store.
Requesting Access Permission
Before you can use user data or protected resources, you must get people’s permission to do so.
Request permission only when your app clearly needs access to the data or resource. It’s natural for people to be suspicious of a request for personal information or access to a device capability, especially if there’s no obvious need for it. Ideally, wait to request permission until people actually use an app feature that requires access. For location requests, using the location button lets you give people an in-the-moment way to share their location; for guidance, see Using the Location Button.
Request permission at launch only when the data or resource is necessary for your app to function. People are less likely to be bothered by a launch-time request when it’s obvious why your app needs the information. If you want to perform app tracking as soon as people launch your app, you must display the system-provided alert before you collect any tracking data.
The system provides a standard alert that lets people view your request to access their private information or protected resources. You supply a description of why your app needs the items, and the system displays this description in the alert. People can also view your description — and update their choice — in Settings > Privacy.
Write copy that clearly describes how your app uses the data or resource you’re requesting. The standard alert displays your copy (called a purpose string or usage description string) after your app name and before the buttons people use to grant or deny their permission. Aim for a brief, complete sentence that’s straightforward, specific, and easy to understand. Use sentence case, avoid passive voice, and include a period at the end. For developer guidance, see Requesting Access to Protected Resources and App Tracking Transparency.
|Example purpose string||Notes|
|The app records during the night to detect snoring sounds.||An active sentence that clearly describes how and why the app collects the data.|
|Microphone access is needed for a better experience.||A passive sentence that provides a vague, undefined justification.|
|Turn on microphone access.||An imperative sentence that doesn’t provide any justification.|
Here are several examples of the standard system alert:
Using the Location Button
In iOS 15 and later, Core Location provides a button so people can grant your app temporary authorization to access their location at the moment a task needs it. Although a location button’s appearance can vary to match your app’s UI, it always communicates the action of location sharing in a way that’s instantly recognizable.
The location button grants your app temporary authorization to request the device location. If your app has no authorization status, tapping the location button has the same effect as when a person chooses Allow Once in the standard alert. If people previously chose While Using the App, tapping the location button doesn’t change your app’s status. For developer guidance, see LocationButton (SwiftUI) and CLLocationButton (Swift).
The first time people open your app and tap a location button, the system displays a standard alert. The alert helps people understand how using the button limits your app’s access to their location, and reminds them of the location indicator that appears when sharing starts.
After people confirm their understanding of the button’s action, they simply tap the location button when they want to give your app one-time permission to access their location. Although each one-time authorization expires when people stop using your app, they don’t need to reconfirm their understanding of the button’s behavior.
Consider using the location button to give people a lightweight way to share their location for specific app features. For example, your app might help people attach their location to a message or post, find a store, or identify a building, plant, or animal they’ve encountered in their location. If you know that people often grant your app Allow Once permission, consider using the location button to help them benefit from sharing their location without having to interact with the alert.
Consider customizing the location button to harmonize with your UI. Specifically, you can:
- Choose the system-provided title that works best with your feature, such as “Current Location” or “Share My Current Location”
- Choose the filled or outlined location glyph
- Select a background color and a color for the title and glyph
- Adjust the button’s corner radius
To help people recognize and trust location buttons, other visual attributes aren't customizable. The system also ensures a location button remains legible by warning you about problems like low-contrast color combinations or too much translucency. In addition to fixing such problems, you're responsible for making sure the text fits in the button — for example, button text should fit without truncation at all accessibility text sizes and when translated into other languages.
IMPORTANT If the system identifies consistent problems with your customized location button, it won’t give your app access to the device location when people tap it. Although such a button can perform other app-specific actions, people may lose trust in your app if your location button doesn’t work as they expect.
Using the Microphone in a ShazamKit App
ShazamKit enables audio recognition by matching an audio sample against the ShazamKit catalog or a custom audio catalog. In iOS 15 and later, apps can use ShazamKit to enable features like:
- Enhancing app experiences with graphics that correspond with the genre of currently playing music
- Making media content accessible to people with hearing disabilities by providing closed captions or sign language that syncs with the audio
- Synchronizing in-app experiences with virtual content in contexts like online learning and retail
If you need the device microphone to get audio samples for your app to recognize, you must request access to it. As with all types of permission requests, it’s important to help people understand why you’re asking for access; for guidance, see Requesting Access Permission.
After you receive permission to access the microphone for features that have ShazamKit enabled, follow these guidelines.
Stop recording as soon as possible. When people allow your app to record audio for recognition, they don’t expect the microphone to stay on. To help preserve privacy, only record for as long as it takes to get the sample you need.
Let people opt in to storing your app’s recognized songs to their iCloud library. If your app can store recognized songs to iCloud, give people a way to first approve this action. Even though both the Music Recognition control and the Shazam app show your app as the source of the recognized song, people appreciate having control over which apps can store content in their library.
For developer guidance, see ShazamKit.
Displaying Custom Messaging Before the Alert
Ideally, people already know why you’re requesting their permission based on context, but if it’s essential to provide additional details, you can display a custom message before the alert appears.
Make it clear that opening the system alert is the only action people can take in your custom-messaging screen. People can interpret a pre-alert message as a delaying tactic, so it’s critical to let them quickly dismiss the message and view the system alert. If you display a custom screen that precedes a privacy-related permission request, it must offer only one action, which must display the system alert. Use a word like "Continue" to title the action; don’t use "Allow" or other terms that might make people think they’re granting their permission or performing other actions within your custom screen.
Clarifying Tracking Requests
App tracking is a sensitive issue. In some cases, it might make sense to display custom messaging that clearly describes the benefits of tracking.
Never precede the system-provided alert with custom messaging that could confuse or mislead people. People sometimes tap quickly to dismiss alerts without reading them. A custom messaging screen that takes advantage of such behaviors to influence choices will lead to rejection by App Store Review.
There are several prohibited custom-messaging designs that will cause rejection. Some examples are offering incentives, displaying a screen that looks like a request, displaying an image of the alert, and annotating the screen behind the alert (shown below). For guidance, see App Store Review Guidelines: 5.1.1 (iv).