Apple’s iPhone software now allows users to be discovered by others.

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Apple’s latest iPhone software update included a default setting called “Discoverable by Others,” which has sparked concerns among users who fear their names and locations are being shared without their consent. However, The Wall Street Journal reported that this setting is related to Apple’s new Journal app introduced with iOS 17.2, designed to help users document and reflect on their daily activities like visits to new places, photos taken, songs played, and workouts completed. The app includes a Journaling Suggestions API that recommends writing topics based on user data, but Apple assures users that this information is not shared with the company.

Users have expressed frustration over the “Discoverable by Others” feature being enabled by default, even if they opted out in the Journal app. Some have speculated that Apple is sharing personal information with others or corporations, leading to warnings on social media to disable the feature for privacy and safety reasons. Apple’s Journaling Suggestions & Privacy page on its Legal website emphasizes that users have control over their entries and that all Journal entries are end-to-end encrypted when stored in iCloud, ensuring that even Apple cannot access them without the user’s passcode. A report from Yahoo! News clarified that the feature tracks nearby devices and contacts for writing prompts but does not store or reveal any personal information to others.

To enhance security and privacy, users can disable the “Prefer Suggestions with Others” and “Discoverable by Others” features in the Journal app settings, making Journaling Suggestions less specific. This adjustment aims to prevent the sharing of personal data with nearby users via Bluetooth, aligning the app’s functionality with AirDrop while ensuring user consent is required before any information exchange. Despite these concerns, representatives for Apple have not yet responded to inquiries regarding the default settings and user privacy issues.

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