Location services are a great way to let your apps know where you are so they can provide customized experiences for you. Sometimes, however, the use of location services can be confusing.
For example, when you see the arrow icon at the top of your device’s screen, it might be difficult to determine why an app would have recently used it. The arrow icon indicates that an app has recently requested your location information, but this does not mean that it is actively using it at this moment in time.
Location information can be used in many ways: by social media apps like Facebook and Instagram; by mapping apps like Google Maps; by fitness apps like Strava; and so on. Apps will use your location information more frequently than others—and some will use it very little at all—but no matter what kind of app you use, if its purpose is to provide services based on where you are or where you’re going, then it likely requires access to your location data.
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How to See Which Apps Are Tracking Your Location on iPhone
Apps on your iPhone can track your location, but you have to give them access first. Here’s how to check which apps can monitor your GPS location and revoke their access.
As important as privacy is, letting some apps track our location makes them much more useful—and sometimes it’s essential. It’s unreasonable to expect Google Maps to work as it should without Google knowing your location, but does that note-taking app need to know where you are? Maybe, maybe not.
Where you stand on these things is a personal decision, and it’s not one we’re here to argue. We’re here to show how to take control of which apps know your location, and when they’re allowed to track it.
It’s also important to remember that some apps need your location data to do their job. Revoking access to your location can stop some important features from working. Keep that in mind when checking which apps can and cannot access your data.
See Which Apps Are Using GPS in iOS 8
The steps in this article were written with an iPhone 6 Plus, in iOS 8. These same steps can be used on devices that are using iOS 7.
Step 1: Open the Settings menu.
Step 2: Scroll down and select the Privacy option.
Step 3: Select the Location Services option at the top of the screen.
Step 4: Scroll down and locate an app that has an arrow next to it. You might notice that some apps have a solid purple arrow, some have an open purple arrow, and some have a gray arrow.
Each different colored arrow has a separate meaning. You can see what each arrow means at the bottom of this menu, as in the image below.
If you no longer wish for an app to have access to location services, then you can turn it off. Simply select the app for which you want to disable location services –
Then select the Never option to prevent it from having access to your GPS information.
Are you running out of storage space on your iPhone? This guide can show you some common items to delete which can free up space for you to download new apps, music, or movies.
How to See Which Apps Are Tracking You
To see a list of apps that have requested access to your location data, open the Settings app and tap “Privacy.”
Next, tap “Location Services.”
The next screen will show every app that can request access to your location data. You can also see whether you’ve granted that access and, if so, whether the app can access your location at all times or only when you’re using it.
To drill into a specific app, tap it.
Here you can see three different options (and a tick beside the active one):
- Never: The app will never be allowed to access your location data.
- When Using the App: Whenever the app is open and active—in other words, when it’s on your iPhone’s screen—it will be allowed to access your data.
- Always: As the name suggests, if this option is selected the app will be able to access your data whenever it requests it.
How to Revoke Access to Location Data
If you decide that you no longer want an app to have access to your location data, you can revoke that access. Open Settings and again tap “Privacy.”
Tap “Location Services.”
Tap the name of the app for which you want to revoke access.
To ensure that the app can no longer access your location data, tap “Never.”
How to Tell When an App is Accessing Location Data in the Background
If an app is accessing your location data but isn’t active—in other words, if it’s accessing your location in the background when you’re not using it—iOS will display a blue notification along the top of the screen to alert you.
If you see this notification and don’t know which app is the culprit, tapping it will launch the app in question. You can head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, tap the app’s name, and tap “Never” or “While Using the App” to prevent it from accessing your location in the background.