Even though Apple claims privacy to be one of its core values, the iPhone doesn’t operate without location tracking. There are many built-in mechanisms that rely on or are enhanced by location access, such as Apple Maps and Find My iPhone.
The good news is that you can disable location services on your phone either for the entire system or specific apps. Here’s how.
1. Go to Settings
Many built-in iPhone mechanisms either rely on location access to function, or are enhanced by it, such as Find My iPhone and emergency calls. Using a few simple tricks you can turn off these services to prevent others from tracking your location or using your phone to spy on you.
The first step is to go to your Settings, which can be accessed from your Home screen by tapping on the icon or going through your Control Center. From here you can customize a variety of settings, including privacy. The settings for Location Services are found in the Privacy tab, which can be accessed by scrolling down from the top of the screen.
When you tap on the settings for Location Services, you will be presented with a list of all apps that have access to your location. For each app, you can choose one of three options: Never, Ask Next Time or While Using the App. Never will disable the app’s access to your location permanently, Ask Next Time will prompt you each time the app wants to use your location so you can grant access on a case-by-case basis and While Using will enable the app to utilize your location while it is open.
You can also toggle which system services, such as time zone information and location-based alerts are enabled or disabled. You can even disable the option for Apple’s Product Improvement reporting if you wish to prevent any data being sent back to the company.
This will not stop someone from using your phone to track your location or spy on you, however. Any app with your location services enabled can do this, as well as the cellular service providers and even law enforcement agencies with a warrant. If you are concerned about this, it is best to either keep your iPhone off, or use Airplane mode when it is in your possession.
The most effective way to protect your privacy is to disable the location services altogether, which can be done by enabling airplane mode and then selecting that feature from the Control Center or on the lock screen. This will stop all of the built-in mechanisms from being able to use your location, though you will need to manually activate them again when needed.
2. Scroll down to Privacy
It is likely that you enabled location services on your new iPhone when you first set it up. This feature uses Wi-Fi and cellular data to provide apps with information about your current location. This is useful for a number of different purposes, from displaying nearby restaurants on your map to giving you driving directions and ensuring that the time displayed on your device matches your local time zone.
However, it is possible to take more control of your location settings and limit the ability of apps to access this information. The best way to do this is to use the settings menu, which can be accessed through the Home screen or by tapping on the app that you wish to change.
Initially, you will see an overview of your location settings, with a master switch that can be turned off to disable all apps from using location services. If you are worried about your privacy or just want to save some battery life, this is a good option to start with.
Then you will see a list of all the apps that are currently using location services, with three options: Never, Ask Next Time or While Using. Never is a no-go, but Ask Next Time and While Using allow you to decide on a case-by-case basis whether an app needs your location.
You can also choose to disable location services for your phone itself, which can be helpful if you are concerned that someone might have access to your device and is tracking your movements. Finally, there is an option to limit ad tracking, which can also help to reduce the amount of information that is collected about you.
While Apple proudly proclaims that your privacy is one of its core values, it’s important to remember that the company can’t prevent others from accessing and selling your personal information. Thankfully, the latest iOS features a number of updates that help protect your privacy, including a new setting that will notify you when apps track your location in the background. To find this setting, head to Settings and scroll down to Privacy.
3. Scroll down to Location Services
The good news is that Apple’s privacy features give you a lot of control over how your location data is used. This includes the ability to limit how much information an app has access to when it’s running in the background. While this doesn’t completely hide your location from other people, it can help with things like battery usage and preventing accidental sharing of your location when you’re not actively using an app.
You can find this option in Settings, under Privacy. From there, you’ll see a list of the apps that can use your location. You can also choose to only allow certain apps or widgets to use your location when you’re using them. To do this, scroll down to the individual app or widget and select Never, Ask Every Time, or Only When Using.
It’s worth pointing out that disabling location services this way will also disable them on your paired Apple Watch. This can be helpful if you want to ensure that you don’t receive notifications from an app when it leaves or arrives at a pre-determined location, such as the ones some parents set up to alert them when their children leave and arrive at school.
However, it’s important to remember that even with location services disabled, law enforcement can still look up your iPhone’s location in some circumstances. This is because your phone is constantly emitting signals that can help narrow down your location based on which cell towers you’re connected to.
Additionally, the location tracking on your iPhone will only work if it has power and is connected to a Wi-Fi network or cellular network. If either of these aren’t available, your iPhone will be unable to determine its location and will use GPS instead.
If you’re having trouble with an app that uses location services, try restarting the iPhone or enabling Airplane mode to clear any cached data. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to reset your location and privacy settings. This will restore the default settings that came with your iPhone and will likely solve any issues.
4. Tap Turn Off
Many apps need to know where you are in order to work properly. However, it is also a privacy concern. If you want to protect your location or conserve battery life, there are several ways to revoke the permissions that apps have for this information.
Apple makes it very easy to disable location services on an iPhone. You can do so with a few taps in the Settings app. Once the feature is off, no one will be able to see your real-time location. However, you should be aware that if you turn this off and then use Find My iPhone to locate your phone, the feature will be restored.
When you first set up your iPhone, the device asks if you want to activate location services. If you don’t choose to do so at that time, you can enable the feature later by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
If you have Screen Time enabled on your device, you will need to enter a passcode to change these settings. This way, even if you forget to turn off Location Services, it will be difficult for someone to do so.
On the Location Services page, you can view all the apps that have requested access to your location. Find an app that you want to limit, such as Weather, and select Never. You can also select While Using the App, which allows the app to access your location while you are using it, or Ask Every Time, which will require you to approve the permissions each time the app wants to use Location Services.
Disabling location services on an iPhone can help to protect your privacy, but it doesn’t stop your GPS from being tracked by your ISP or other service providers. To really protect your privacy, you should consider a VPN. A VPN, such as AVG Secure VPN, channels all your online activities through a private, encrypted tunnel, making it impossible for snoopers or hackers to track your location or activity. Try it for free today. No credit card required.