DNS (iPhone/iPad) accountability explained

Understand the differences with accountability through DNS

Posted by Cam on April 27, 2020

Internet accountability works a bit differently on iOS. On all other platforms, we’re able to detect when you visit websites by asking the browser application which website you’re visiting. This isn’t possible on iOS, however through using DNS, we can achieve a similar goal with subtle differences.

What is DNS?

DNS is the “phone book” of the internet.
When you type in “truple.io” to a web browser, the web browser asks another computer on the internet, called a DNS server, what the address is for “truple.io”. Once it gets the address of “truple.io”, it can connect to it and show you the website.

Truple is able to provide internet accountability and filtering by acting as a DNS server–aka the phone book of the internet–for your iPhone or iPad. Our DNS server will act as a normal DNS server, but also record what website you were trying to access.

What differences can I expect?

There are three major differences between how internet accountability works for iPhone/iPad vs other platforms.

  1. Your iPhone/iPad will remember the address for specific websites for a while–typically anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 day. This means if you go to “google.com” and then an hour later you go to “google.com” again, you may only see the first occurance recorded.
  2. Apps, websites, and other services on your iPhone/iPad will also use Truple’s DNS server, and we may record those events too. For example, if you open up the Netflix app on your iPhone, the app itself will send the DNS request to Truple asking for “netflix.com”’s address on the internet. Truple will record this–which is both good and bad. It’s good because it’ll provide a degree of accountability for the apps you’re using. It’s bad because a lot of those events are sent without you realizing it. We’ve attempted to reduce the noise as much as possible, and will continue to improve it over time.
  3. Extending off of #2, it can happen that an advertisements loaded through apps/websites you visit may cause websites you didn’t visit to appear as though you did.

Why is it this way?

Apple has iOS so locked down they don’t even allow you–the user–to grant any app access to the information necessary in order to provide accountability in the same way it’s able to be provided on all other platforms. This forces us to find creative–yet not necessarily perfect–solutions like recording internet activity through DNS. If you find this isn’t satisfactory, we’d encourage you to consider switching to android. The difference in quality of accountability is night and day. With that being said, we believe this is the best way to provide accountability on iOS. It is the only way to record the web traffic across all apps & browsers, plus it allows you to continue using the web browsers and apps you wish to us.

What else can I do?

If you’d like further protection consider doing the following:

  1. Setup parental controls on your device to prevent uninstalling the app.
  2. Enable screen time limits on your device.

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