Wednesday, October 16, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iOS 13’s Forced “Find My” Notifications

Casey Liss:

Interesting: in Find My in iOS 13, the subject of a notification is told you set up a notification.

In Find My Friends in the iOS 12 era, you could quietly notify yourself about a friend without them knowing.

[…]

So for example, I know my wife is returning home shortly, and I want to finish up what I’m working on before she arrives. I could notify myself when she leaves her current location.

I can see why they thought this was a good idea, but I don’t think it solves the problem very well. The person being tracked has already consented and can revoke the permission whenever they want. They can also already see in the app when they are being tracked. Some sort of notification may make sense to remind people who have forgotten that they enabled this feature years ago. But a notification for every single use is really annoying. Many people use this feature to avoid bothering the person.

You can control whether Find My notifications are shown in Notification Center, but it doesn’t really help. If I turn off notifications to avoid being bothered when my wife is tracking me, it also means I won’t get notifications when she’s on her way home.

If your worry is that someone will gain access to your phone and start tracking you without your knowledge, that person would likely turn off the notifications, leaving you none the wiser. And, of course, they could still track you simply by leaving the Find My app open, without using the geofence feature. So how is this really improving privacy?

Dr. Drang:

I noticed this last week. I’m sure it’s considered a privacy/consent issue, but you’d think consent had already been given when they allowed you to follow them.

Nick:

This will be annoying for my wife, I set notifications for when she get to a certain location for dinner prep on my end. She says this will end up pissing her off if she can’t turn these off for me.

Tony Scida:

Yeah, I used this all the time in 12 to know when my kids were on the way with my ex so I could be ready. Don’t use it anymore because it’s not important enough to send a notification!

Maik Musall:

I use this a lot with my wife to facilitate family coordination. Despite this new hint, she says she doesn’t get a notification if I set one up about her leaving a place or something. Works as it did in iOS 12. We’re both on 13.

Kyle Howells:

This basically kills the feature for me. I’ll just try to remember to check the app frequently. Nobody I know will use notifications anymore either.

3 Comments

>you’d think consent had already been given when they allowed you to follow them.

Relationships end, and sometimes they end badly. It's good to have a reminder that this feature exists, and is enabled.

Maybe this notification doesn't need to be sent every time, but on the other hand, some of these comments read to me a little bit like "I was doing something slightly creepy, and now people will see when I'm doing it, so I'm not doing it anymore," which sounds to me like it's perhaps a positive outcome overall.

@Lukas
Yeah, there is an oddity to this feature that the change might actually be positive.

Yeah, basically I think this feature is a move against abusive spouses. Reminds me of this piece on the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/technology/smart-home-devices-domestic-abuse.html

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