Apple has filed for a patent (number 20210397647) for a “virtual photos library.” Despite the name of the patent, it involves a privacy control system for your photos.
About the patent filing
In the Apple patent, Apple says a privacy control system provided by an operating system on an electronic device can gate app access to privacy sensitive devices (e.g., camera/microphone) and privacy sensitive data sources (e.g., a photos library). When an app attempts to access a privacy sensitive device or a privacy sensitive data source, the user is prompted to allow or deny the access.
The indicated user preference may be remembered and continually activated by the privacy control system. However, Apple says a drawback to enabling access to a privacy sensitive data source is that access may be granted to the entire data source. For example, if a user allows an app to access a photo database, it may access all assets within the photo database. Apple’s idea is to enable limited access to a privacy sensitive data source — a virtual photos library — for a limited purpose.
Summary of the patent filing
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “Described herein are techniques to enable limited access to a photos library by enabling application specific virtual photo libraries. When an application requests access to the photos library, the user can select an option to enable or configure a virtual photos library, and then select specific assets (e.g., photos, videos) within the photos library to be selected for inclusion into an application specific virtual photos library.”