More users worldwide are refusing to share location data with apps

The Airship report looked at mobile app user permissions for 700 million people across the globe.

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Mobile app users across the world are becoming more vigilant about what information their favorite apps collect, according to a study done by customer engagement company Airship.

The company examined mobile app user permissions for about 700 million users worldwide to learn how the industry was changing in response to the EU's GDPR law, which came into effect almost a year ago.

Globally, the opt-in rate for the sharing of location data fell nearly two percent overall despite massive increases in certain sectors, showing that users are more aware of which apps really needed certain data.

"In an era where consumers are becoming much more selective about the channels they opt-into and the data they share, push notifications continue to prove their value by providing customers valuable information at the precise time and place they need it," said Mike Stone, Airship's senior vice president of marketing, in a press release.

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The marketing industry was one sector affected the most by the GDPR, the report found. Marketers had to trim email lists to comply with the law but were finding other ways to get to customers. Businesses have turned to push notifications as their main way of interacting with customers in the US, sending an average of 36 to each user per month. That's an 18% increase compared to last year. In Asia, the figures were even higher, with users receiving almost 57 push notifications a month per user, the report added.

With the rise in push notifications per month, users were increasingly opting in to receive them. Two-thirds of app users worldwide were opting in to receive them, and with the massive rise in overall users across the world, businesses are sure to send even more.

"For today's 'show me' consumers, great customer experiences trump the best advertising campaigns," Stone said.

"These highly contextual, increasingly rich and actionable messages enable brands to build genuine relationships by proactively engaging and supporting customers at the moments that mean the most," according to the report

When it comes to privacy, users across the world have become far more aware and targeted about which apps they allow to track their location. Users now only share their location with apps that truly need it, like restaurant services, and entertainment.

"Among 15 industry verticals, Entertainment shot up from the fourth to the second highest average location opt-in rate. Food & Drink entered the top five for the first time due to rising adoption of mobile pre-order and delivery services among quick serve restaurants," the study stated.

"Both of these industries, and the perennial location leader — Retail — illustrate the willingness of users to share location data when it unlocks convenient, streamlined services that make their daily lives and out-and-about experiences better."

Airship said a number of different things factored in to why app use behaviors were changing. For things like location sharing, the difference between Android devices and iOS devices is stark. Android devices generally provide fewer opportunities to share your location and are more upfront about when an app can use the information.

Apple devices are more flexible, allowing you to share location data only while you use an app, something that isn't offered on Android devices.

The study also found that an increasing percentage of iOS users are rarely, if ever, prompted to provide location sharing data, showing that businesses were more aware of the implications behind even asking for it. Businesses, according to the study, are realizing that the question sometimes turns users away, meaning they really should only ask for it if it vital for the app to function.

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