Mobility

Tweak your location settings in iOS for more privacy

iOS is very secure when it comes to sharing your information with third-party apps, but you can view and tweak exactly what gets shared. Cory Bohon explains how.

Location

Whenever you launch an app that uses your location to provide you with more information (such as a weather app), iOS will prompt you to ensure that you're aware the app will be using your location data. In order to proceed with using the app, you must select to either decline the request to your location or accept the usage. There are, however, a lot more settings that you can tweak when it comes to your location and privacy. Here are some important tweaks that you can make to ensure the apps you use only get your location information if you want them to.

To see what apps currently have access to your location information, navigate to the following location:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Go to Privacy | Location Services
  3. Scroll to the listing of apps

In this listing of apps, you'll see the various location statuses to the right of the app name (Figure A). Here's a brief overview of what each of those statuses mean:

  • Always: The app will always be able to get your location—even when the app is closed, location information can be provided to it by iOS
  • While Using: The app is only granted your location when the app is in the foreground
  • Never: Your location data is never provided to the app by iOS

Figure A

Figure A

See the location data status of recently used apps inside of the Location Services privacy section.

You'll also see a small location icon beside some items in this list. A purple icon means that the app listed has recently used your location, a gray icon appears beside apps that have used your location in the last 24 hours, and an outlined icon means that apps are using your location through the iOS geofencing feature to get updates when you arrive or leave the geofence.

You can tweak the settings on an app-by-app basis very simply by performing these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Navigate to Privacy | Location Services
  3. Select the app you want to change the location privacy settings for

Once you're in the settings panel for the specific app (Figure B), you have the option of choosing between "Never," "Always," or if the app has been set up by developer, "While Using the App."

Figure B

Figure B

Change the setting for a specific app to ensure that location data is only shared when you want it to be shared.

If you select "Never," then iOS will never share your location data with the app when requested. If you select "While Using the App," then the app will only gain access to your location data when the app is currently in the foreground and in use. If you select "Always," then the app will have constant access to your location data (in the case of a navigation app, even in the background).

With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your location is only shared with the apps you want your location shared with, and you can disable location on certain apps that request to always use it to preserve battery life.

Do you have a location privacy setting tip? Let us and other's know in the discussion thread below.

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About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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