Beware if you see this little spot of light in the corner of your phone's screen

Beware if you see this little spot of light in the corner of your phone's screen

Do you see a little dot of light in the top right corner of your smartphone screen? Be careful, an app may be trying to spy on you, using your phone's camera or microphone without your knowledge.

What does a colored dot in the corner of your phone screen mean?

When you're using your smartphone, whether Android or iPhone, a green dot may appear in the top right-hand corner of the screen. It's not there to signal that the smartphone is switched on or that its battery is sufficiently charged, no. It's a sign of something else entirely and can help you make sure that everything is running smoothly on your mobile. This pinpoint of light acts as a telltale: it's there to indicate the activity of the microphone or the camera, two "sensitive" components of the smartphone. This is a security measure taken both by Google in Android (since version 12) and by Apple (in iOS 14 and later). In fact, when you launch the camera app, a small camera icon in white on a green background appears at the top right of the screen. It then turns into a simple green dot so as not to interfere with screen legibility.

This green dot also appears as soon as the smartphone's microphone is in action. On the iPhone, the dot related to the microphone is orange. Its purpose is to inform you that the camera is in use or that the microphone is active. For the geolocalisation services: the iPhone uses the blue dot to show you that your current geolocalisation is being shared in an app.

Nothing to worry about, then, if you yourself initiate this action after launching the camera app or, for example, the recording app on your mobile. On the other hand, be careful if you don't remember opening an application that is supposed to use one or other of these devices. A malicious application may have taken control of it in order to monitor you without your knowledge. It's worth noting that, on some models, the green (or orange) dot remains lit on the screen even if the smartphone is locked, should an app continue to use the camera or microphone. A good way to know you're not being spied on. Simply wake up the device, turn on the screen, and check for a colored dot in the top right-hand corner.

How do I know which app is using the camera or microphone?

The green or orange dot in the top right-hand corner of the screen is an indication that the device's camera or microphone is being used by an app. But Android and iOS go a step further than this simple indication. They allow you to identify which app is using either or both of these devices.

  • On Android, pull down the notifications pane, then tap the green icon. The active device and the name of the app using it are displayed. Simply tap on this name to bring up the app's file.
  • On iOS, the operation is pretty much the same. Slide your finger down from the top right edge of the screen to display the iOS Control Center. The list of apps currently active appears at the top of the screen. Tap on the app name to see the list of apps that use it.
iOS Control Center camera
© iPhone

The presence of this bright spot on the smartphone's screen guarantees a little privacy. It is activated as soon as the microphone or camera are active. While malicious apps may have access to these peripherals, they cannot modify the behavior of this system-specific, particularly secure light spot and this is reassuring!