New feature in iOS 13 gives users more control over apps that track their location

New feature in iOS 13 gives users more control over apps that track their location
Late last month, we passed along the results of an investigation conducted by The Wall Street Journal that showed how 99% of third-party iOS apps promoted by Apple in the App Store contained secret trackers. With Apple trying to set the pace when it comes to privacy for smartphone users, a new feature that will be found on iOS 13 could help iPhone users know which apps are tracking their location while running in the background. Images posted by 9to5 Mac show a couple of examples of how this new iOS capability will work.

It appears that iOS users will receive a popup notification from an app that is tracking them while running in the background. The notification explains why their location is being tracked; for example, the notification for The Apple Store app says "We'll provide you with relevant products, features, and services depending on where you are." The Tesla app says that it is tracking the user's location "to show your proximity to the vehicle (while the app is open), and to optimize phone key on your supported vehicles (while the app is in the background)."

The notification also asks whether users want the tracking to continue and the options are "Change to Only While Using," and "Always Allow." The former means that the tracking will only occur when an app is running in the foreground while the latter means that the user is giving the app permission to track his location in the foreground and background. The upcoming iOS build will also have an option to "Allow Once," which gives permission for the app to track a user's location this one time, which means that the app will prompt the device owner to make a selection again the very next time the app is open. The notification also includes a map showing the exact locations where a particular app running in the background has been tracking an iPhone user.

Apple says that its customers are not the product


Besides alerting users that a particular app is tracking them while running in the background, the popup also gives a developer the opportunity to try to convince users that they have a legitimate reason for tracking them. If the user buys it, he will select the "Always Allow" option. If not, the "Change to Only While Using" can be tapped.


Ever since Facebook got caught with its pants down in the Cambridge Analytics scandal (for which it will get fined as much as $5 billion), Apple and its CEO Tim Cook have come out very strongly in favor of user privacy with the executive stating several times that Apple does not make its customer the product. However, Apple customers are a product to the developers of third-party apps in the App Store. Some defend the practice by saying that those who install a free version of an app instead of the premium version should be allowed to have their location data collected and sold to advertisers; others say that there are no good reasons for allowing an app to track an iPhone user's location. Interestingly, the Journal found that premium apps track users just as much as free apps.

Last Monday, Apple unveiled iOS 13 during the first day of the WWDC annual developer conference. The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system will be disseminated sometime this September. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be the oldest models still receiving the update, which means that it most likely will get cut off from 2020's iOS 14. First things first; you can read about all of the changes coming to iOS 13, including the system-wide dark mode, by clicking on this link.

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16 Comments

1. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1175; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

I am just glad they are doing something about this crap. Looking forward to iOS 13

2. Mike88

Posts: 369; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

Google itself is theif and steals people's information for their political mission,, people should open their eyes and ditch unsafe Android as soon as possible

3. cmdacos

Posts: 4180; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

I think there's something wrong with your translator

9. MrMalignance

Posts: 296; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

Mike88, that's not true. Google tracks you to make money, not for politics. Anyone that tells you otherwise is full of it.

11. Mike88

Posts: 369; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

You are making a good point by their business perspective, but some of us has dark secrets too,, Google is one such big company with a very dark secret.. One big mission,, when Google with their big heart decided to provide smartphone to everyone no matter how rich or how poor, they weren't doing charity,, they have their own political secrets... They have helped political parties in many countries to become a super power in their country by using every citizens personal information.. You said they want to make money,, they actually want to make money to be the biggest force in the world that no one can stand against their mission.. If you are gonna trust Google, you are gonna self harm in long run

12. MrMalignance

Posts: 296; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

Too much conspiracy, too little proof. Every company has political preferences. Corporations tend to be blinded by money, so they back whoever makes them more money. I'm afraid you're giving Google more credit than they're due. They offered services to most manufacturers in order to make money. First they start as a helping hand, then move on to making money. That's the easiest way to become integral to tech. Become the base that people build on, that way they can't easily move past or around you

13. Vancetastic

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 17, 2017

Your hat is running low on tinfoil, buddy.

4. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

It felt nice that apple is putting more and more effort to make their software secure. This is the main selling key for me as I only trust apple with my data. They don’t just put features that compromise security and privacy. I do hope one day, apple makes their own social networking app to compete with facebook and video app to compete youtube. I hate their nonstop ads and marketing strategies.

7. fatTony

Posts: 115; Member since: Dec 20, 2012

I believe using Facebook or other social media sites is a choice the user alone makes so that's on the individual. You could also pay for YouTube Red if you so dislike the ads. Love them or hate them, these guys are running a business and will do whatever the law allows in order to stay viable, and that includes your beloved Apple.

10. MrMalignance

Posts: 296; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@fatTony: well said

5. cmdacos

Posts: 4180; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

When you're an adult, reminders for permissions is just spam. Use your head in the first place and you'll be fine without Papa Tim controling basic functions like your a child.

8. whatev

Posts: 2242; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

I love how apple disturbs you beyond your control and makes so bitter and makes your life so miserable, if only you knew the amount of time you waste hating on a brand that doesn’t care about your meaningless existence maybe you would rethink your purpose in life, and btw that red bum needs some cream, buy some at Amazon ;)

6. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1412; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

If an app asks for my permission to location access on Android and it's not in any way required by my reasoning for the app to work, then it won't get it or i might not even install it if there are alternatives.

14. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Could you explain why anyone, that reads this article, would give a flying f**k about what you do on Android?

15. MrMalignance

Posts: 296; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I believe the story was meant to suggest that a user could emulate the actions of the op. I hope that explains it sufficiently

16. FLOGROWN

Posts: 52; Member since: Oct 25, 2018

Is Simple Android is known for Malware and unsafe OS for anything what is so hard for Fandroids to understand

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