Dodgy iPhone developers are using your iPhone’s location data to make money. This is how you stop your iPhone’s apps from sharing location data

Below you’ll find ways to stop individual apps from accessing your iPhone’s location data. This is very important stuff to know! However, you should also be aware your iPhone tracks and stores your Significant Locations all by itself, too. Be sure to read our guide on iPhone Location History to find out more.

iPhone’s Location Tracking Permissions

The latest versions of iOS have a multi-level location permission structure. It allows you to grant an app access to your location data with any of the four following permissions:

  • Never: this means the app will never be allowed to access your location data.
  • Ask Next Time Or When I Share: this means the app will prompt you to use your location when it next needs it or when you choose to share your location via the app.
  • While Using the App: this means the app will only be able to access your location when the app is actually open. It will not be able to continue to access your location when the app is only running in the background.
  • Always: this means the app has access to your location data every second of the day whether it’s open or running in the background. This setting essentially lets an app track every step you take all day long.

Note that not all apps may offer all four of the above permissions. Some apps may only offer three permission options. For exmaple, some apps might not have the “Always” option. That’s a good thing. So then you only will need to choose between the other options.

You’ll also see that now you can also choose to give an app access to your precise location or just your approximate location. If you give your app access to your precise location, it will know where you are within a few yards or meters. But if you restrict an app’s access to just your approximate location, the app will only know where you are approximately.

For example, precise location may show the actual address you are at, while approxmiate location might show what city you are in.

Stop iPhone Apps From Tracking Location

The good news is iOS allows you to assign all these permissions on a per-app basis, so you can give each app its own level of access. Here’s how to do just that:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Privacy & Security.
  3. On the next screen tap Location Services.
  4. On the next screen, you’ll see a list of apps that have asked for access to your location. Tap on an app to check its current location permissions.
  5. On the next screen, you can then tap to change the permission to Never, Ask Next Time Or When I Share, While Using the App, or Always. Select one option so a checkmark appears next to it.
  6. Choose to give the app permission to your precise location or not by toggling the Precise Location switch (green is ON, white is OFF).

Do iPhone Apps ACTUALLY Track Your Location Data? 

In 2018, the New York Times revealed that some app developers were taking part in a shady practice: making an app whose use requires access to your location and then selling your exact location data history to third-party advertisers.

And it’s not just small app developers that were doing this. As the New York Times reported:

“The Times tested 20 apps, most of which had been flagged by researchers and industry insiders as potentially sharing the data. Together, 17 of the apps sent exact latitude and longitude to about 70 businesses. Precise location data from one app, WeatherBug on iOS, was received by 40 companies.”

New York Times

So what should you do? If you are not ready to give an app, then at the very least you should restrict its access to your real-time location on your devices–see above on how to do that.