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iOS privacy & location services

For iOS 8 and 9 mobile devices

 

iOS 8 and 9 give you control over which apps have access to information stored on your iOS device. For example, you can allow a social-networking app to use your camera, allowing you to take and upload pictures. You can also grant access to your contacts, so a messaging app can find any friends that are already using the same app.
 

You can modify privacy settings in Settings > Privacy. You can select a type of data from this list to see which apps have asked for permission to use that data. An app won’t appear on the list until it asks permission to use your data. You can add or remove permission from any app that has asked for access to data. An app can use your data only if you have given it your permission.
 

With your permission, Location Services allows apps and websites (including Maps, Camera, Weather, and other apps) to use information from cellular, Wi-Fi, Global Positioning System (GPS) networks, and Bluetooth to determine your approximate location.
 

For example, an app might use your location and your recent location searches to help you find nearby coffee shops, theaters, and restaurants. Another app might use your location data to provide a list of popular apps in your immediate area. You must enable Location Services on your device and give your permission to each app or website before it can use your location data. In iOS 8 and 9, if you turn off Location Services and then use Find My iPhone Lost Mode, your device will turn on Location Services for as long as the device is in Lost Mode. When you turn off Lost Mode, Location Services will return to its previous state.
 

For your safety, the location information in your iPhone may be used for emergency calls to aid response efforts regardless of whether you enable Location Services.
 

Depending on your device and available services, Location Services uses a combination of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS to determine your location. If you’re not within a clear line of sight to GPS satellites, your device can determine your location using crowd-sourced Wi-Fi and cell tower locations or iBeacons.
 

Apps that can show your location on the screen, including Maps, show your current (approximate) location using a blue marker. If your location can’t be determined precisely, you’ll see a blue circle around the marker. The size of the circle shows how precisely your location can be determined—the smaller the circle, the greater the precision.
 

When Location Services is active, a black or white arrow icon appears in the status bar.
 

Maps, directions, and location-based apps depend on data services. These data services are subject to change and might not be available in all geographic areas, resulting in maps, directions, or location-based information that might be unavailable, inaccurate, or incomplete. Compare the information provided on the device to your surroundings and defer to posted signs to resolve any discrepancies.
 

The first time an app tries to access your location, even in the background, it will ask for your permission. You’ll see which app is asking for permission to use your location, and the app’s developer may also explain how their app uses your location.
 

Some apps will ask to use your location only while the app is in use. An app is considered “in use” when you’re actively using it in the foreground, or when it’s in use in the background, which the status bar will indicate.
 

Other apps will ask for access to your location even when the app isn’t in use. When you allow an app to always use your location, iOS will remind you which apps are able to use your location after an app uses your location in the background.
 

You can turn Location Services on or off at Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can turn Location Services on either during the Setup Assistant process or later through the Location Services setting. You can individually control which apps and system services have access to Location Services data. When Location Services are off, apps can’t use your location in the foreground or background. This will limit the performance of various Apple and third-party apps.
 

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
 

When you turn on Location Services, you also turn on location-based system services such as these:

  • Traffic: If you’re physically moving (for example, traveling in a car), your iOS device will periodically send GPS locations and travel speed information in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting a crowd-sourced road traffic database.

  • Popular Near Me: Your iOS device will periodically send locations of where you have purchased or used apps in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple to improve a crowd-sourced database. This database may be used to offer geographically relevant apps and other products and services.

  • Frequent Locations: To learn places that are significant to you, your iOS device will keep track of places you have recently been, as well as how often and when you visited them. This data is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.

  • Location-Based iAds: Your iPhone will send your location, including travel speed and direction, to Apple to provide you with geographically relevant iAds.

  • Spotlight Suggestions: When you use Spotlight or Spotlight Suggestions in Safari, the location of your iOS device at the time you submit a search query to Spotlight or Safari will be sent to Apple to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services. If you turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions, your precise location won’t be sent to Apple. To deliver relevant search suggestions, Apple may use the IP address of your Internet connection to approximate your location by matching it to a geographic region.

  • Location Based Alerts: Your iOS device will use your location to provide you with geographically relevant alerts, such as a reminder to call someone when you get to a specific place or when to leave for your next appointment based on where you currently are.

  • Share My Location: You can choose to share your current location with others, on a temporary or ongoing basis, from within certain apps, such as Messages and Find my Friends.
     

The crowd-sourced location data gathered by Apple doesn’t personally identify you.
 

To reset all of your location settings to the factory default, go to Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset Location & Privacy. When your location and privacy settings are reset, apps will stop using your location until you grant them permission.

 

Read more about privacy and location services for iOS devices.