While I do eventually get used to the changes that come along with each operating system update on my iPhone, I have to admit that it can be a little stressful at first! Like many of you, I’ve grown increasingly protective of my digital privacy, and encountering mysterious new features after updating my phone (especially when it isn’t readily apparent to me what a new feature does or means) only makes me feel more apprehensive!
That’s exactly what happened a couple of months ago when I downloaded the new iOS 14 update to my phone. Almost immediately, I encountered a feature that I had never seen before and didn’t understand what it meant.
I noticed that a little colored dot sometimes appeared near the top of my screen. Sometimes the dot was orange, while other times it was green, and sometimes it disappeared completely!
I quickly realized that I was far from the only person who had questions about those little colored dots. So I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all, and I’ll be sharing the results of my “investigation” here with all of you today! :-)
The iOS 14 Update: Aesthetics, Privacy, And More
The newest operating system update for iPhone (iOS 14) came with a lot of changes that many people have appreciated. For instance, you can now customize your home screen with widgets to suit your personal style and preferences, and I certainly had fun getting creative with my home screen design! (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out this blog post for more on that.)
iOS 14 also provided iPhone users with a number of privacy enhancements reflecting Apple’s recent push to give their customers more control over their data. These enhancements included additional options that allow users to limit apps’ access to your photos and location data, and new icons that alert users to microphone and camera usage.
The latter privacy enhancement turned out to be the answer to the mystery of the colored dots!
Why Do Colored Dots Sometimes Appear Near The Top Of My Screen?
If you’ve noticed these new colored dots at the top of your phone screen, you’ve probably also noticed that they appear only at certain times and in when you’re using certain apps. That’s because these dots only appear when an app is using your phone’s camera or microphone, giving you a chance to investigate if you happen to see them pop up when you aren’t expecting them.
What Does A Green Dot Mean?/What Does An Orange Dot Mean?
When a green dot appears at the top of your screen, that means your camera is active and being used by one or more apps. You’ll notice it pop up when you’re using the Camera app or making a Zoom or FaceTime call.
An orange dot, on the other hand, means that your phone’s microphone is actively being used. You’ll see an orange dot at the top of your screen when you’re talking on the phone, when you activate Siri, and when you’re recording voice memos.
The green and orange dots are meant to increase your awareness of when your camera and microphone are active, because knowledge is power, after all! And you can take this knowledge one step further by figuring out which apps are using them, so you can shut them down or adjust your privacy settings as you see fit.
Find Out More In The Control Center
When you see an orange or green dot at the top of your screen, you can find out which app or apps are responsible by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen. This gesture opens the Control Center, which will display an orange microphone symbol or a green camera symbol along the with the name of the app that’s using them.
If you see an app listed there that you don’t want to have access to your camera or microphone, you can go into the settings for that app to restrict access. But most of the time, I find that the microphone and camera indicator lights are on when I expect them to be (plus they serve as a good reminder to shut those applications down completely when I’m done using them!) :-)
So there you have it, the mystery of the colored dots has been officially solved. Not only am I happy to have my answer, but I’m glad to have this new feature on my phone so I can have more control over my digital privacy!
Want Even More Smartphone Hacks?
- For even more clever hacks that will make your smartphone more useful and easier to use, check out the other posts in the “iPhone Hacks” series!
- Click here to explore the “iPhone Hacks” series archive.
Do you get confused by new features after updating your phone?