Why turn off precise location on iPhone and how to do it?

Why turn off precise location on iPhone and how to do it?

When it comes to protecting your privacy, one of the first things you may be advised to take care of is location sharing. If you’ve had an iPhone for a while, chances are some of the apps you’ve installed on it have access to your location. While sharing your location data is one thing, revealing your specific location to some apps is not going to be a good idea.

In this post, we’ll discuss when your iPhone might need access to your precise location and why you should turn it off to protect your privacy.

When does iPhone need your precise location?

Precise location is useful when you need to share your specific location with an app that needs to narrow down your exact coordinates. By default, apps you’ve given location access to in the past will have access to your specific location down to the lane, street, or building you’re in. Of those installed on your iPhone, only a few apps require access to your precise location.

If you’re traveling, you may need to give your preferred navigation app access to your precise location. Whether it’s Apple Maps or Google Maps, these apps will need to know your precise location in order to provide turn-by-turn directions and help you find a nearby restaurant or gas station. Similarly, taxi and food delivery apps will also require access to your precise location so that their service staff can reach your location on time without asking you for directions.

The ability to toggle precise location access has only been on iPhones since the iOS 14 update. Before that, users could only decide whether or not to share their location with an app. When someone shared their location to an app on iOS 13 or earlier, the app would have access to their specific location, down to its exact coordinates.

Why should you disable precise location on your iPhone?

Not all apps on your iPhone need access to your specific location. Unless you’re using a map app to navigate or want to book a taxi or order food, most of the apps you may have installed on your device have nothing to do with your precise location. For example, a weather app shouldn’t need you to share your precise location, since the weather data can stay the same over a larger region, such as a city or town. Similarly, streaming services do not need to access your precise location to determine what regional content to show you.

Unless you frequently share your whereabouts with someone, you don’t need to provide precise location access to messaging apps or social media. Although many of these apps can claim to improve your user experience when you share your exact location, it makes no sense for such apps to know your exact whereabouts.

How to turn off precise location on iPhone

If you no longer want apps on your iPhone to be able to access your exact location, you can revoke this access at any time. There are two ways to turn on precise location for an app on your iPhone.

Method #1: Use Settings

The easiest way to disable precise location access for an app is through the iOS settings. To turn off Precise Location, open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Inside Settings, scroll down and select Privacy & Security.

On the privacy screen, touch location services on top.

To toggle precision location, you will need to enable the location services toggle on top.

Once enabled, you’ll see a list of apps that have access to your location or have requested access in the past.

To disable precise location for an app, select the app you want to revoke access to.

On the next screen, you should be able to see the type of location access the app has been given. Unless you’ve chosen the Never option under “Allow location access,” you should be able to configure your fine location settings. To disable precise location, turn off the precise location until it turns gray.

The selected application will no longer be able to know your exact whereabouts.

Method #2 – In App Location Alerts

For apps you’re opening for the first time or those you’ve set to share your location only when prompted, you’ll see location alerts on your iPhone screen. In this alert, you will be able to grant the app access to your location once, while the app is in use, or deny access. You can also decide whether or not to share your specific location from within the alert itself.

To turn off precise location, open an app that you’ve set to share your location only when prompted. Depending on the application that is loaded, you may need to visit a feature/option that requires location access to receive a location alert.

When the location alert appears, you should see a map appear over all the available options. If you see a dense blue dot within this map, it means that the app will be able to know your specific location if you give it location access.

To disable pinpoint location, tap the Precise: On button in the upper left corner of the map.

Maps within the location alert will now display the Accurate: Off label.

You will now see that the map within the location alert is now zoomed out and the dense blue dot no longer appears within the map. Instead, you’ll see a larger light blue circle that represents the approximate location data that will be shared with the selected app.

You will need to repeat the steps in any of these methods to disable precise location in other apps installed on your iPhone.

What happens when you turn off precise location for an app?

So, you disabled precise location for an app; What happens next? When you disable precise location for an app, the app will now get coarse coordinates that span a few kilometers in diameter, so you may see a large blue circle appear within a location alert. When an app requests your location, your iPhone will generate a random coordinate within this circular region to share your general location.

The circular region would not reveal its precise location, as it could be anywhere within the location. This circle will be generated so that its actual coordinates are not necessarily at its center. iOS will recalculate your approximate location multiple times every hour.

The circle radius of your approximate location will vary as you move around a place and the places you visit. For example, the radius of the circle will be smaller if you drive through a region that has multiple towns/cities. This radius will be greater if you are traveling through open space away from towns and cities.

Can you disable precise location for all apps entirely?

No. iOS does not give you the option to turn off precise location for all apps at once. When you visit the Location Services screen, you need to turn off the Precise Location option for all the apps installed on your iPhone one by one.

You can stop sharing your precise location to all apps at once only if you completely disable Location Services within iOS settings. However, the downside is that no app on your iPhone will be able to access your location even when it is active.

So, if you want to disable precise location for all apps without disabling location access completely on your iPhone, you will need to disable the feature one by one for all the apps you have installed.

I don’t see a Precise Location option within Settings. Why?

If you can’t see the precise location toggle using Method 1 above, it could be because the app you are trying to disable Precise Location inside may not have the basic location permission of your iPhone. As shown in the screenshot below, if you have chosen Never for “Allow location access” for an app, the Precise Location option will not appear below.

The Precise Location option only appears when an app is set to access your location at least once or while an app is active. To make the Precise location switch visible, open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Inside Settings, scroll down and select Privacy & Security.

On the privacy screen, touch location services on top.

If Location Services is enabled, you should now see a list of apps that have access to your location or have requested access in the past. From here, select the app where you can’t see the Precise Location switch.

You should see the precise location switch for an app when you select any of the following options under “Allow location access” within Location Services: Ask next time or when I share, While using the app, While using the app or widgetsY Always.

From here, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to turn precise location on or off.

That’s all you need to know to turn off precise location on your iPhone.

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