We used to download apps, enable permissions, and share data without giving it a second thought. These days, most people want more control over their info.
And what about all those apps on your phone? It’s easier than ever to see if they know exactly where you are — and stop it if you want to.
Your location is yours to protect
Some apps need to know where you are to work correctly. Many that don’t need it request access, and you probably said yes when you installed it.
On your iPhone or iPad, follow these steps to change your overall tracking preference:
- Tap Settings, navigate down to Privacy and tap Location Services.
- If the first slider is turned on, it means that apps can track you.
- Slide it off if you universally want to deny your device from using Location Services.
The list of apps displayed under Location Services has access to your location and how frequently it is used. Tap on a specific app if you want to change the settings. You can choose Never, Ask Next Time, While Using the App or Always.
To take advantage of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, change its settings by tapping Settings, tapping Privacy, selecting Tracking, and toggling the Allow Apps to Request to Track off.
On Android, first check to see which apps have access to your location:
- Swipe down from the top of the screen and press down on Location. If it’s not there, search your Settings menu and find Location.
- Tap App permission. You will see a list of apps that can access your location any time, only while it’s in use, or when you give permission.
You can change app permissions here, or try this method:
- On your home screen, find the app’s icon. Touch and hold the icon for the app you want to adjust.
- Tap the Info icon > Permissions > Location.
- Choose from All the time, Only while using the app, Ask every time, or Deny.
Things to keep in mind
Turning off location services disables your smartphone from tracking your location, but there are some disadvantages. The most obvious one is that apps like Maps, Uber and your weather app of choice won’t be able to determine your exact location.
To get around that, you can either change the setting so that apps only use your location when using the app or manually switch it on or off as needed.
Ending location tracking entirely can be a pain. Android and iOS provide built-in options to minimize and limit ad tracking if that’s more your speed.
Stop ad tracking, too
These changes won’t stop companies from tracking your phone activities. They won’t limit the number of ads you see — but they will allow you to reset your advertising ID and unlink any targeted advertising profiles associated with your gadgets.
That means fewer creepy ads that make it clear advertisers know what you are up to online and what your preferences are.
On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:
- Go to Settings > Privacy.
- Tap Apple Advertising. Toggle Personalized Ads to Off.
- Go to Settings and tap Google.
- Tap Ads. Toggle on Opt out of ads personalization.
We think of our gadgets as helpful tools that make our lives easier, but they can also be turned against us. The data your devices collect is so valuable it could be used against you in a criminal trial, requested by police or even bought by the government through a data broker. I sit down with technologist Bennett Cyphers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and he reveals all the secrets you’re losing — and which devices do the most stealing.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The , the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at