What Are iPhone Location Services?

Location services tell your apps where you are, but you might not always want that shared. Here's how to manage location services on your iPhone.

he We all know our phones are powerful devices. They’re basically computers we carry around in our pockets. But without GPS and Location Services, smartphones wouldn’t be nearly, well, as smart. Those components are vital to checking the weather, getting directions, or finding the closest grocery store. They also can consume a ton of data and battery power, and they can sometimes pose privacy risks. That’s why it’s important to know about your phone’s location services — and how to manage them.

How Location Services Works

Location Services uses satellites, cell towers, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth to locate your phone. Apps and websites use that information for location-based features like finding the nearest gas station or ordering an Uber. Some apps will ask you to keep Location Services on all the time, while others work just fine when Location Services are active only when you’re using an app. In either case, you can always check if an app is accessing your location by checking for the small, white or black triangular arrow at the top of your phone’s screen.

How Location Services Impacts Battery and Data

Always-on Location Services can be a serious drag on your phone’s power consumption. Why? Basically, your phone is constantly sending signals and pings via its GPS and cellular signal to towers and satellites to ensure your position is always exact for whatever app is using Location Services. This can also burn through your data plan if you’re not careful.

Here’s how to see what apps are using Location Services — and how often:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  2. Once there, you can turn all Location Services off by tapping the switch at the top of the screen.
  3. The smarter thing to do, though, is go app by app and adjust how they access your location. The best options are While Using the App or Never, depending on your preferences.
  4. Just remember that some apps — like maps programs — won’t work properly without access to Location Services.

It’s a good idea to periodically do some Location Services maintenance to ensure your apps and usage needs are up to date. Sometimes you’ll find an app using your location even if you haven’t used the app in a while, or you might find an app you use a lot isn’t working great and it could be because it needs location access.

Either way, being smart about Location Services will help you get the most out of your phone — and all the wonderful things it’s capable of.

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