You are probably aware that your smartphone can pinpoint your location for the weather, GPS, or local search. Hopefully, you also know that it means that your device can keep track of everywhere you go, and at all times. Do not be alarmed for this is the tradeoff you get for the features contained in your mobile phone. However, if this unsettles you that there is this much information regarding your movements on a day to day basis sitting on a database where it can be accessed by anyone with your password, here is how you can opt out.
For Android users, Google’s location service is broken into two features i.e. Location History and Location Reporting:
- Location History- This is a feature that keeps track of any addresses you navigate to or type in, or where you have been. For instance, it is how Google figures out where ‘work’ and ‘home’ are so that Google Now can give you traffic information for those places or estimate your commute time. While turning this feature off will still provide you with traffic information, it means that Google will stop trying to guess where you are going based on your previous searches.
- Location Reporting- This feature gives apps like Twitter, Foursquare, Google Maps, Google Now, and even your camera app access to your location. Whenever an app helps you find the closest restaurant, suggests local businesses, or helps you find something nearby, it is using Location Reporting.
To disable history or location reporting in Android:
- Begin by opening the app drawer and going to settings. Then, scroll down and tap on location before tapping on Google Location Settings.
- Next, tap Location History and Location Reporting, and switch the slider to off for each.
- To delete your mobile phone’s location cache, tap ‘delete location history’ under Location History at the bottom of the screen.
- Repeat this process for all Google accounts that you may have on your Android device.
Google makes this process pretty transparent and easy but the downside is that apps such as Google Maps and any others Google service that uses location data will not work, or they will prompt you to change the settings every time they want to access your position. If you do not mind location services but do not want everywhere you go put on the database, just leave Location Reporting enabled while disabling Location History.
With iOS, the situation is a bit more complex. Turning off location services should stop sending data back to Apple, but your location will still be cached on your cell, so anyone with access to your PC or your phone can see where you have been since iOS is known to sync such information back to iTunes. The only way you can have control is to jailbreak your mobile phone and install Untrackered app.
Untrackered is quite simple- just install it and it should clear your location cache and even better, prevent it from recording anything in future. It does not even show up as an icon on your home screen-just install it and forget it.
Location tracking is, undoubtedly, one of the best things about smartphones. However, if you are concerned about what might happen if your phone was stolen or lost, or do not like the idea of big brother knowing your whereabouts, the above simple tips should help keep your cell free of location information.