Apple Plans To Restrict How Apps Implement Internet Voice Call Functionality


Apple Inc. is making a change to its mobile operating system that will restrict a feature that apps like Facebook Inc’s Messenger and WhatsApp use to make voice calls over the internet.

The calling feature in the apps runs in the background even when not in use, which means the apps can connect calls faster while performing other tasks such as data collection, according to the report. The report said that Apple is restricting the background access to apps while users make internet calls. The change may have a big impact on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Both use the specific Apple developer tool in question as a kind of workaround to iOS restrictions, so that an app can run features in the background while it’s not being actively used.
For example, WhatsApp, per The Information, uses the current VoIP call tech for implementing end-to-end encryption. The Information reports that Snapchat and WeChat also relied on the current VoIP tech for purposes beyond voice calls. Regardless, Apple is positioning itself as a privacy-first company willing to actively go after practices it deems unethical, even if it means intensifying feuds with Silicon Valley rivals.

Both Apple and Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple’s move will force the social media giant to redesign its messaging apps, the report said, citing two people familiar with matter, adding that it may have a heavy impact on WhatsApp, which has been using the internet calling feature in a variety of ways, including for implementing the app’s end-to-end encryption. At WWDC, Apple also shared that it would be tightening rules around enterprise certificates on its devices, after a report earlier this year found that Facebook was using the certificates to distribute VPN software that was siphoning user data in exchange for monthly rewards, which is a violation of Apple’s developer terms.

The Information reports that developers have until April 2020 to update any apps making use of the VoIP API to take into account Apple’s new restrictions.