Some wallpaper apps try to access your camera roll in order to save photos there. Is it safe to do so ? What am I giving developers once I allow them access to my camera roll's photos ?

I'm just concerned a bit regarding my privacy. What are they allowed to do with the photos ? Are they encrypted or plain .img files that they can view ?

2 Answers 2


Whether it is safe or not depends on whether you trust the app and the developer's privacy policy or not.

When you give access to an app to photos (either through the prompt that comes when the app tries to access photos or through Settings > Privacy > Photos), the app gets access to write new photos/images to your Camera Roll and to read all your photos on the device in an unencrypted form.

The date and time when each photo was taken is embedded within the photo. Plus, if you have enabled Location Services for the Camera app, then an app that has access to the Camera Roll can also find out where you took the photos.

How the app then treats the photos and the associated metadata (like date/time and location), if it uploads or sends them elsewhere, is left to the app. For example, once you give permission, iOS apps for popular services like Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr and Google+ can upload all your photos to their services. With iOS 7, these apps can also be allowed to do it in the background (when you're not actively running the app). Most users wouldn't even actively know which photos are being uploaded and when.

From the Data Management in iOS page of the developer documentation:

Similarly, your app can load, display, and edit photos from the Photo Library, as well as use the built-in camera to take new photos.

So far, Apple has not implemented any granular settings in iOS within Privacy > Photos to restrict read access to specific photos in the photo library.

  • 1
    Hmm, it seems like some apps can abuse this power and handle our photos in a way that is deemed unacceptable.
    – Render
    Oct 29, 2013 at 16:18
  • Yes, they can. So far, Apple has not implemented any granular settings within Privacy > Photos to restrict read access to specific photos in the photo library.
    – M K
    Oct 29, 2013 at 16:24
  • Thanks for clearing this out. I will refrain from allowing such access from unpopular apps then !
    – Render
    Oct 29, 2013 at 19:44
  • 2
    Following on the thread, did Apple implement a bit of privacy here?
    – Red M
    Oct 30, 2017 at 4:09
  • @MK and @RedM: Since iOS 11 (possibly earlier?) an app needs no special permission to use the iOS Image Picker to access a specific photo. That's because it's handled by the OS, and the user implicitly grants permission by choosing the photo. See the note about UIImagePickerController in Requesting Authorization to Access Photos. Some apps (Insta-cough-gram) insist on requesting full permission anyway, even when they don't need it. But this is all set to change again in iOS 14 with PHPicker.
    – Kal
    Oct 7, 2020 at 4:58

That is the purpose of asking you to allow access to your photos. Allow only the apps that you trust. In general if you set in security&privacy settings to allow apps only from the mac app store and certified developers, you have little to concern about.

  • Do you know what kind of access do we give developers ?
    – Render
    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:23
  • We do not give access to the developer, we give access to his app to use our photos within the app or save photos to our photo library.
    – Nikos M.
    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:43
  • 1
    Can this be abused ? Is the app limited to certain use of the photo library ? Can the pictures be accessed or exported to another location ( online server ) ?
    – Render
    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:46
  • 2
    This doesn't really answer the question, evident from the fact that the OP re-asked it in comments. And there are no settings regarding allowing apps only from the App Store / certified developers on iOS, which is the subject of the question.
    – Dan J
    Oct 29, 2013 at 18:16
  • 1
    There is no setting in iOS for that? Actually all apps in iOS are from certified devs and all apps are reviewed by Apple, so there is less to concern than the mac.
    – Nikos M.
    Oct 29, 2013 at 18:20

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