Tech

Dear Apple: We Need a Snoop-Proof iPhone

Published On 05/27/2016 Published On 05/27/2016

Anyone who has ever experienced the special kind of horror of having your mom, spouse, or coworker (God, it could be anyone) swipe through your photos and stumble upon a photo they definitely should not see will 100% agree with this statement: the next iPhone needs to have a guest-mode feature.

Even if this hasn't happened to you, God willing, we're all packing classified information of some variety on our phones. There's a certain anxiety that engulfs you whenever you hand your phone off to someone else, whether it's to give them a closer look at a photo or show them a hilarious text exchange. Are they the type of snoop who will take the liberty of scrolling past said photo? Will they accidentally get a peek at the steamy sexts you've been exchanging with your boss?

Conversely, you can always tell when someone is really, really reluctant to relinquish control of their phone. They hold it out across the table for you to see something, and you reach to take it -- then there's that awkward moment when you realize they don't trust you enough to let go. 

What if there were a special setting you could enable on the fly to keep your private stuff from prying eyes? Of all the things we'd like to see in Apple's next big iOS rollout, a "guest mode" seems like a no-brainer.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Every time Apple drops a shiny new phone or operating system, they brilliantly solve some little quirk or problem. Most recently, it was Night Shift, a new lighting setting that adjusts the color temperature of your screen to minimize eye strain when you're staring at your phone at night. It's super easy to turn on and off -- just a quick upswipe of the finger and boom, it's right there between the calculator and timer. But who needs a timer anymore, am I right? That seems like prime real estate better served by a fancy new guest mode.

You're already familiar with the concept of guest mode. Any machine you've ever used in a library or computer lab is, by default, in guest mode. It grants you access to basic functions like the Internet or Word, but restricts you from making any major changes to the machine or network. It would be the same principle for an iOS version -- in Settings, you would customize a list of which features and apps are off-limits in guest mode (for example, Facebook, your Photo Albums, the swiping function) then you'd quickly enable it whenever you need to so a friend/parent/boss/jealous lover doesn't accidentally see something they shouldn't.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

But wait, hasn't Apple already addressed this issue with the Guided Access feature? Also known as "kid mode," there is a feature that lets you lock your phone in to a single app, which can only be manually disabled with a preset passcode. It's super-helpful for parents who like to babysit their children with iPhone games, but it's almost too restrictive in this case -- you don't want to arouse suspicion from a close friend or spouse when they realize you've locked them into one app. 

Kid mode also takes way too long to turn on (you have to go deep into your phone's settings to enable it). It's essential that guest mode be a quick draw, as easy as turning on Airplane Mode so as not to offend the other person or interrupt the natural flow of your conversation. 

We expect a lot from Tim Cook and co., but if we're going to continue loading the minutiae of our private lives onto our little pocket computers, some enhanced privacy settings would be nice. Any other ideas for what you'd like to see in the next iOS? Sound off in the comments below.

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist who totally has nothing to hide ever. 

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