How to Safely Lend Someone Else Your Phone

From the nephew who wants to play games for a few minutes, to the friend who wants to see your vacation snaps, to the stranger who needs to make a call, there are going to be people who want to borrow your phone.

That’s quite a privacy and security risk if you think about everything that your phone gives you access to: social media profiles, banking details, instant messenger conversations, photos and videos that you’d rather the world didn’t see, and so on.

However, there are ways to hand over your phone to someone else without having to worry about what they might get up to on it. You just need to make sure that you’ve taken a few precautions before the exchange takes place.

iPhone

Guided Access is built into iOS.

Apple via David Nield

(Apple via David Nield)

The feature you need to know about on the iPhone is called Guided Access, and you can enable it by opening up iOS Settings and choosing Accessibility and Guided Access. Turn the Guided Access toggle switch on and the feature is ready to go—just make sure you use Passcode Settings to set a passcode to protect Guided Access mode.

To actually turn Guided Access on, you need to triple-tap the home button if your iPhone has one, or the side button if it doesn’t. You can then tap Options to configure how Guided Access is going to work: You’re able to restrict access to the volume buttons, for example, and the software keyboard. You can even turn off touchscreen functionality and put a limit on Guided Access mode. Tapping Start launches Guided Access.

Whoever is using the iPhone is then locked into the current app, so you need to open up the app in question—the Phone app, a particular game, or whatever it is—before you triple-tap the button on your device to launch Guided Access. You get out of Guided Access with another triple-tap of the same button, at which point you’ll need the passcode that you set at the start.

The idea is that without the passcode, the person using your iPhone can’t get out of the app you’ve put them in—there’s no way to switch apps, open up the Control Center, or even turn the phone off. It’s worth being aware of the app that they’re in, though, and what they can do inside that app: If you’re showing someone your photos, they’ll be able to access all of them.

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