Apple iOS 15: What's the green or orange dot at the top of my iPhone screen?

4 weeks ago 10
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(Pocket-lint) - When Apple launched iOS 14 in 2020 it came with a host of visual changes. We got widgets and an app library for the first time, but there also came a load of less obvious new features. 

With iOS 15, most of those still exist, including the privacy-focussed addition which you may have noticed: a green or orange dot randomly appearing at the top of your screen. If you have an iPhone X-model or a later model like the iPhone 11, 12 or 13 with a notch and FaceID, it'll show on the right side of the notch, near your Wi-Fi or phone signal indicators. 

What's the green dot on my iPhone? 

If you've ever owned a MacBook, this is a familiar feature: the green dot appears when your camera is active. If you've ever used video calling software like Zoom or Skype on your MacBook, you'll have seen this in form of a green LED light in the top bezel of laptop, right next to the camera. 

In iOS 15 it's not a light as such, just a green dot on your screen and it lets you know that your camera is activated and could be used for capturing video or stills. 

Any time you see this green dot, it's normally for good reason. For instance, if you're trying to record a live-stream to Twitter or sending a video or photo in a messaging app, or even when FaceID is being used to unlock your phone. 

When the green light is active, it also implies that the microphone is active too, because when you're using it for its intended purpose, you - of course - need audio too. For making those video calls. 

The time to look out for it is when it doesn't make sense for it to be active. If you're not trying to make a video call or capture photos/videos within an app and the green light comes from, it could be that the app is up to no good and you should either delete it or change its permissions within the settings app. 

What about the orange dot on my iPhone screen? 

Similar to the green dot, the orange dot in the same position is there to inform you when your microphone is active. You'll usually see it when you're using an app that allows you to record voice messages or make audio calls. 

If you spot it active at times when it doesn't feel like it needs to be active, that's worth paying attention to. It could be that the app is capturing audio when it doesn't need to be. 

For instance, if you open up Twitter and tap to create a new tweet, it shouldn't show up. But if you go to record a new voice message in that tweet, the orange dot will appear as soon as you start recording. 

Change which apps have access to camera or microphone

To disable access to your camera or microphone for specific apps follow the steps below: 

  • Open Settings app
  • Tap 'Privacy' 
  • Select 'Camera' or 'Microphone' 
  • Find the app you want to disable, and toggle it off

It's worth noting some features within apps will not work if they don't have access to that hardware, but you can always enable it again when it's needed.  

Writing by Cam Bunton. Originally published on 25 September 2020.

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