iOS 14 is only in developer beta, but it’s already exposing just how often some applications are checking users’ clipboards. The latest app to be scrutinized for this practice is Reddit, but the company says a forthcoming update will remove the code in question.
One of the new privacy features in iOS 14 is a banner alert that appears when an app is pasting from the clipboard and therefore able to read the contents of a clipboard. A video shared on Twitter by Don Morton shows that the Reddit app triggers this notification every time the keyboard is pressed in the app.
In a statement to The Verge, a Reddit spokesperson explained that this is due to a codepath that checks for URLs then suggests a post title. The company empathized that pasteboard contents are not stored or sent elsewhere and that an update coming on July 14 will remove the code completely:
“We tracked this down to a codepath in the post composer that checks for URLs in the pasteboard and then suggests a post title based on the text contents of the URL,” a Reddit spokesperson wrote in an email to The Verge. “We do not store or send the pasteboard contents. We removed this code and are releasing the fix on July 14th.”
As we’ve explained before, however, there is a new API available to developers that will help reduce the number of times a clipboard paste notification is displayed. This means an app could check to check the clipboard for text that looks like a URL.
If a URL is found, the app could copy the contents and perform whatever task it needed to perform — such as generating a post title like in Reddit. This would still trigger the iOS 14 notification, but if the test was false and the pasteboard does not contain a URL, the app could do nothing and avoid triggering endless clipboard notifications.
This API will help developers improve the experience in their app while also retaining functionality and protecting privacy. What remains to be seen is which applications will adopt the API versus which will simply avoid accessing the clipboard at all. You can learn more in Don Morton’s full blog post here.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.