Orange and Green Dots on iOS screens: What do they mean?

If you updated your iPhone to the latest iOS 14 beta, you might have noticed that when you’re on a phone call, a dot will appear right above the signal bars: The dot could be orange or green, and in this post, we will explain what they mean, and how this is a security feature that even guys like Snowden would look with good eyes in a world where online privacy is crucial to everyday life.

One of the features that the new iOS brings in the appearance of these nearly unperceivable dots of different colors that pop up at the top of the screen.

The Orange Dot

The Orange dot is Apple’s new way of telling the iPhone user that the microphone is in use and that is recording. This means that when this dot pops up, the user could be asking Siri a question, doing some dictation, or in the case of privacy, an app might be… you know —spying on you. If that’s the case, you could easily identify the app, close it and probably delete it because who wants anyone listening to your conversations?

The Green Dot

The Green Dot, in this case, bears a similar point of information for the iPhone user, it means that the camera is working and will pop up when you unlock the phone with Face ID. This handy information tool will also show when you use a video app like WhatsApp, Facetime, when you take photographs, etc. If the camera is on —front or rear— the dot will inform you of this activity, so no sneaky Chinese spy app can go around with shenanigans when it comes to your camera.

The Weak Spot

If you take privacy as a critical issue, you can notice that despite the efforts of tech companies like Apple in convincing you with dots and pointing them out in their fancy keynote speeches, the sensation of feeling safe in a world where surveillance is now a common thing. Data privacy isn’t a luxury, it is a basic fundamental aspect to your individuality.  What you do on the web, what you do with your phone, whatever you do on the internet is nobody’s business, and tech companies and the government should respect that.
Like Edward Snowden expressed nearly a year ago to Joe Rogan in his Joe Rogan Experience podcast, your phone would be safe from surveillance if it had a physical button that would turn on or off the recording and geolocalization aspects. Tech companies enable government agencies with software like XKEYSCORE and other mass surveillance tools to tap into your phone, take pictures, and extract your data without your consent, let alone leaving a trace.

For Apple, the dots are just the beginning, this is a company that unlike others, has a reasonably reputable record for respecting your privacy when it comes to safeguarding your devices: Across the years, the Cupertino-based consumer electronics manufacturer implemented different security measures to lock your phone: From passwords to fingerprint scanning, to face ID.

Alberto Zambrano
32, Millennial from Venezuela with a focus on tech, medicine and geopolitics