With iOS 11, Apple Will Tell You Which Apps Are Constantly Using Your Phone’s Location Data


With iOS 11, Apple wants to better inform people about which apps use location data while running in the background.

The new operating system brings with it a blue bar that appears at the top of your phone’s screen, that tells you which apps are constantly using your location data.

This update is an evolution from the forked arrow icon that previously appeared next to the battery life bar and keyboard lock icon, to tell you an app was using location data.

Now, when an app like Foursquare, Moves or Happn is constantly using your location in the background, a blue bar will appear saying: “Moves is Using Your Location”.

This type of bar previously appeared in iOS 10 in instances such as when you were navigating in Google Maps, but moved off the app by clicking the Home button.

Google Maps iOS 11

This is the breakdown of what the arrow, and the blue bar, signifies in iOS 11:

  • If the arrow is hollow, it means an app is requesting location data
  • If the arrow is solid, an app is receiving location data
  • If there is a blue bar, an app is constantly receiving location data.

This update comes alongside an important change around what location preferences apps must now offer to their users.

On iOS, there are three choices around how apps can access your location data: Always, While Using the App and Never.

Many apps, including Citymapper, Facebook, WhatsApp and Google Maps, allow you to choose from all three options, depending on how much access you want to give them.

The majority of the rest of apps, such as Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Bumble and Google Chrome, offer just two options: While Using the App and Never.

The third group, which includes Happn, Uber and Moves, only allow you to choose from two: Always and Never.

The important change is this – with iOS 11, Apple will now let users choose the “While Using the App” option, even if it wasn’t previously made available by the developer.

These two updates could pose a big problem for an app like Happn, which uses your location data in the background to discover the people you have crossed paths with in real life, or those that constantly run in the background for revenue-generating purposes.

And according to a slide from WWDC 17, 21% of location-based apps currently have their location preferences set to Always.

As has been mentioned in reaction to this update, despite definitely not a bug, this is a feature that could be tinkered with in subsequent betas before the planned September roll-out of iOS 11.

More on this story as we get it.