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How to turn off location tracking on iPhones, Androids

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Q: Where do I turn off the constant location tracking in my smartphone?

Our smartphones have become a virtual human electronic tag that, instead of being installed under our skin, is in our pockets and purses.

Precise locations, dates, times, durations and what we did before and after opening an app or website are just the beginning of what’s being tracked.

The very design of the device allows this to happen whether we want it to happen or not. Your cellular provider, for example, always knows where you’re at on their network, because your phone is checking for the strongest cell tower roughly every seven seconds.

Turning off all of the location tracking systems on your smartphone would essentially render it useless, but you can somewhat control what gets shared or stored.

Personalized services

Both Google and Apple will espouse their ability to provide their users with personalized services by allowing your smartphone to constantly track your location.

For example, it can detect that it’s the time of day you usually leave for work and automatically estimate your commute time and best route based on the current traffic conditions.

Apple’s frequent location data is only stored on the iPhone, while Google stores your location history both on your Android handset and in your Google account.

For the most part, someone would either have to gain access to your smartphone or your Google account to see your detailed location history.

Keeping location data in perspective

Frankly, if someone does gain access to your smartphone or Google account, your location history should be the least of your worries. Your email account and its contents are far more valuable to a cybercriminal than your location data.

If your concern is that your spouse will be able to see your every move, then that’s a completely different situation that may be dictated by your relationship.

Whatever your reasons are for not wanting your location data tracked and stored, it’s pretty easy to turn it off.

iPhone frequent locations setting

Most iPhone users are likely familiar with the “Location Services” options in the Settings menu (Settings/Privacy/Location Services) that allows you to individually control which apps have access to your location services.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the listing of your apps, you should see an option for “System Services.” Tap it and look at the bottom of the next screen of options to tap on “Frequent Locations.”

You should now see a toggle to turn on or off frequent locations and the current history that’s stored on your phone with an option to clear it if want to wipe the data.

Google location history setting

Android users will need to adjust setting on both your smartphone and in your Google account.

Android devices have slightly different settings menus depending upon your device, so look for (or search for) “Google Location History,” which is usually under a privacy or location submenu.

When you toggle the switch to off, it simply stops storing your locations but does not delete your history.

For complete instructions to manage or delete your location history, go here.

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