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iOS 13 bug allows third-party keyboards to upload your data without permission

iOS 13 has had a turbulent first few weeks as users continue to discover a new glitch seemingly every other day. Apple has quickly come to the rescue by releasing iOS 13.1 a week early but it turns out, the update doesn’t squash all the bugs.

In a brief advisory, Apple has warned iPhone and iPad owners about a bug concerning third-party keyboards. The issue allows any installed third-party keyboard like Gboard or Swiftkey to grant themselves “full-access” permissions — without your authorization.

Third-party keyboard apps, like any other iOS app, come with a set of permissions. You have the option to authorize only the ones you’re comfortable with. The optional permissions, when granted, enable these apps to offer supplementary features such as smart suggestions, spell check improvements, and more. To facilitate these abilities, keyboard apps need to process and collect your personal data, including your SMS messages in some cases, and everything you type.

Until now, users had the choice to use keyboard apps minus these extra tools. But on iOS 13, they can take advantage of the bug and function in full-access mode. It is worth noting that the glitch will be misused only if the developer wishes to and that most likely won’t happen as long as you stick to reputed brands such as Google and Microsoft-owned Swiftkey.

That doesn’t mean you should be worried about the third-party keyboard you’re employing at the moment — especially when you have already granted it full-access permissions. However, if there are multiple keyboard apps on your phone and you only actively operate on one of them, it’s best to get rid of the rest until Apple figures out a fix.

You can either uninstall them or disable the app in the keyboard settings. To do the latter, head over to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Edit.

“This issue does not impact Apple’s built-in keyboards. It also doesn’t impact third-party keyboards that don’t make use of full access. The issue will be fixed soon in an upcoming software update.”, wrote Apple in a support post.

The issue impacts both iOS 13 and iPadOS and, no, updating to iOS 13.1 won’t help. Fortunately, iOS 13.2 has entered the beta phase and should be available soon.

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