Your iPhone uses information from your cell service, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS to pinpoint its location, and since you almost always have your phone on you, your location as well. That information can be useful for a lot of things, such as letting others know where you are or finding your phone when it’s lost. Other times, it’s just more information that services and companies collect about you, creating privacy concerns.
The good news is you can tighten your controls so that apps are only accessing your location when it’s necessary.
Toggling your location settings differs from phone to phone, depending on what model of iPhone you have and what version of iOS it’s running. For example, there have been issues with restricting the iPhone 11’s location access, and you’ll need to use the Find My Friends app instead of the Find My app if you’re running iOS 8 through 12. We’ve addressed how to deal with all of that below.
Location data is useful for some apps (for example, if you want to order food) and necessary for others, like maps or ride-shares. However, if an app asks for your location and you don’t feel it needs the data, you can disable location services for that app. Here’s how to do that.
If you click “While Using the App,” then that app will have access to your location either when it’s open or when it’s in use in the background (denoted by a blue bar at the top of your screen).
For more ways to limit location access, click on “System Services” at the bottom of the “Location Services” screen. Here, you can toggle location access for a number of things, including Wi-Fi, time zone, emergency calls, and Apple News and App Store ads that are relevant to your location.
To check whether your phone is still collecting location data, go down to the very bottom of the “System Services” screen and toggle the switch for “Status Bar Icon.” This will display an arrow at the top of your screen when an app on your phone is accessing your location.
If you want to truly go off the grid, you can disable location services to prevent your phone from collecting any location data at all:
If you have an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro and have disabled location services for specific apps, you may find that you still sometimes see the arrow. According to Apple, this is because these models use ultra wideband technology, which Apple says is regulated, so the phones use location services to determine if they’re in an area where ultra wideband use is restricted.
The iPhone 11 requests location data when location preferences are set on an app-per-app basis, so switching off location services for your phone overall will stop these location requests since your phone won’t be able to collect any location data.
If you’re walking alone at night or you’re in an Uber by yourself, you might want a friend or family member to know your location in real time. If you have iOS 13 or later, you can use the Find My app to share your location with family and friends.
It will then start sharing your location. In order to switch it off, click on your contact’s name in the “Find My” app under “People,” then pull up the tab, scroll down, and click “Stop Sharing My Location” at the bottom. Confirm by clicking on the “Stop Sharing Location” button that pops up.
You can share your location through Messages as well:
Although you won’t have the Find My app if you’re not using iOS 13, you can still share your location with others by using the Find My Friends app. Find My Friends is automatically installed on iOS 9 through 12, but if you’re running iOS 8, you can download it for free from the App Store. In order to share your location with another person through Find My Friends, that person needs to have Find My Friends set up as well. To share your location:
To stop sharing your location, click on that person’s name, and then click “Stop Sharing My Location.” Click on “Stop Sharing My Location” when it pops up again.
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