Do you know which apps on your phone are tracking your location? You may be sharing your location with apps, not realizing you’re doing it. If so, you may be giving up both privacy and battery life on your phone.
When you load a new app onto your phone, it may ask for some permissions. In your eagerness to start using the app, you may agree to everything without bothering to consider exactly what permissions you’re giving.
But not all apps are created equal and some apps may ask to track your location, even when they don’t need to. You may have allowed an app to track your location without realizing you did so.
If sharing your location information with the app benefits you, great. If if doesn’t, well, not so great.
Apps that track location can mean you’re giving up your privacy and using up battery power unnecessarily. Better to review your apps now and see whether and when they can access your location.
In iOS 11, location permissions have changed significantly. After you upgrade to iOS 11, be sure to check your location permission settings to make sure they work best for you.
You should also check your location permission settings if you have an Android phone to make sure they work best for you.
Which Apps Should Be Able to Track Your Location
You may have apps that need your location for them to work, such as maps, weather, or traffic apps. Without having access to your location, these type of apps would not be nearly as useful to you.
Other apps, such as gaming apps, may not need your location to work properly. But they may still ask for your location information. These apps may be collecting data to sell to third parties.
Do you really need to share your location with crossword puzzle app in order to play it? Probably not.
Think about whether sharing your location with an app benefits you. If it doesn’t, then don’t allow that app to have your location information. Checking your location permissions takes just a few minutes but is an important task.
App Location Permissions with iPhone and iPad
Three Choices: Always, Never, While Using the App
On the iPhone and iPad, apps can ask for your permission to share your location three ways: Never, Always, or While Using the App.
Beginning with iOS 11, app developers who ask for location permission must offer “While Using the App” as an option.
Previously, apps could ask for your location to be shared Always or Never. This left you with a difficult choice of sharing your location with an app any time your phone was turned on, versus never, which meant not having any benefits of location services.
Now that all apps that request location permission must offer a third option, “While Using the App,” you have more control over when your location is tracked. You also can reduce the drain on your battery by changing app permissions from Always to While Using the App.
How to Check Your App Location Permissions
On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app, then go to Privacy => Location Services.
You can turn off Location Services for all apps if you don’t want to be tracked or if you want to preserve your battery.
You’ll also see a Share My Location option. If you want to share your location with friends in Find My Friends or in iMessage, then tap on Share My Location. You can choose which device you wish to share your location with others and review which friends you are sharing your location with.
Below Share My Location, you will see a list of apps with which you can share your location. Next to each app you will see the permission the app has to access your location.
If an arrow is next to the app, then that app has recently accessed your location.
Tap an app to choose whether you will allow location access to the app. And, if you do allow access, whether you will allow the app to access your location always or only while using the app.
Some apps offer an explanation why they need permission to access your location.
Check the settings for each app to make sure you give location access only when it will benefit you.
Android Location Services
If you own an Android device, you should check permissions to see whether you are sharing your location only with the apps that actually need that information to work properly.
For Android devices, you can check location permissions by going to Settings => General => Location. (Note that Android devices tend to vary greatly with their settings. If these instructions don’t work for your phone, search the Web for instructions for your phone if you can’t find Location settings on your phone.)
Here you can turn off the switch to prevent any apps from accessing your location, to save battery life or when you don’t want to be tracked. But you probably have some apps that will be much more useful if they can access your location.
Here you can also see the battery usage for each app that uses location services, so you can find any battery hogs.
You can also control how accurate you want your location to be. High accuracy means that the phone uses GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile networks to locate you. But this mode uses the most battery.
You can also choose Battery Saving mode that only uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile networks, but does not use GPS.
Device Only mode uses only GPS but not Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or mobile networks to locate you.
Setting Location Permissions for Apps
You can see which apps have permission to track your location and change those permissions. Go to Settings => General => Applications => Configure apps (or App Settings).
Tap on an app to see the information about the application, including location permission.
Tap “Permissions” to change location permission.
Have you reviewed which apps are tracking your location? Did you change any of your location permissions? Have you ever been suspicious of an app that wanted to track your location?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
* Phone with apps image courtesy of Saulo Mohana via Unsplash and Creative Commons