Feature Articles

4 location system services in iOS 9 and iOS 8 that you may not be aware of

By Ng Chong Seng - 9 Feb 2016

4 location system services in iOS 9 and iOS 8 that you may not be aware of

Deciding which system services can access your location data

Unlike Google, Apple prefers that your data never leaves your phone. But some data, such as location, needs to be shared for certain features to work. In fact, many people aren't aware that there are several fine-grained controls buried under Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. They're separated from the apps section because these are permissions you grant to the system (i.e., the device and Apple).

If you really, really hate to share your location data, here are four settings you can consider turning off.


1.) Location-based Alerts & iAds

If you use your iOS device to serve up reminders based on location, such as when you should leave for your next appointment, it's wise to leave the Location-based Alerts setting turned on. The Location-based iAds service on the other hand tracks your location and sends this data to Apple so that it's able to provide you with geographically relevant ads.


2.) Safari & Spotlight Suggestions

A lot of people are unaware that when you use Spotlight or Spotlight Suggestions in Safari, your location (along with the search query) is also sent to Apple. For the most part, this enhances user experience because the returned search results are more relevant. If you don't want your precise location to be known, you can turn this setting off. But know that Apple may still use the IP address of your Internet connection to approximate your location.


3.) Share My Location

Do you know that you can share specific location information, on a temporary or ongoing basis, with anyone that is using Apple's own apps like Messages (iMessage) and Find My Friends? Your family members can also use Find My iPhone to help find your device. While the sharing can be done directly in the respective app, there's also a global location sharing control under Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Here's also where you remove people you follow and choose the device from which you want to broadcast your location.


4.) Frequent Locations

One reason why your iOS device is able to do amazing things like predictive traffic routing is because it keeps track of places you've been to, including the time and frequency. Without your consent, this data won't be sent to Apple. If even keeping this data on your phone doesn't feel right to you and you don't mind giving up useful location-related information, you can go ahead to disable this setting.


Editor's note: This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of HWM.

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