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Apple might force Facebook to change how its apps handle voice calls

Starting with iOS 13, apps will no longer be allowed to run VOIP in the background.
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AMY OSBORNE via Getty Images

A change coming in iOS 13 could force Facebook to change Messenger and WhatsApp. As The Information reports, Apple will no longer allow these apps to run Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) in the background when it's not in use. At the moment, apps like Messenger and WhatsApp run VOIP continuously in order to connect calls faster, but doing so could also allow them to do other things, like collect user data. According to The Information, Facebook may have to redesign its messaging apps in order to comply.

The change could have the biggest impact on WhatsApp, which allegedly uses VOIP to enable end-to-end encryption. But Facebook isn't alone. Other messaging app developers use VOIP to keep their apps running in the background, and they'll have to adapt to these changes, too. The update will be part of the September iOS 13 release, but developers have until April 2020 to comply.

In a statement provided to The Information, a Facebook spokesperson said:

"The changes to the upcoming iOS releases are not insignificant, but we are in conversations with Apple on how best to address. To be clear—we are using the PushKit VoIP API to deliver a world-class, private messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data."

When Apple first announced the change at its Worldwide Developers Conference, it said doing so would help it protect privacy and improve the performance of its devices. But some say the change is a way for Apple to challenge Messenger, which competes with iMessage. As previous reports revealed, the practice of running apps in the background also drains phone batteries. Theoretically, prohibiting apps from continuously running VOIP might improve battery life, as well as protect users' data.

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