While scrolling through your photos, you may notice your smartphone has created albums based on your location, tagged with eerie precision. How does my phone know that I was taking a photo of a certain cathedral, or that on one night in January I took a photo in South Slope and then another by 14th street?
It’s all about location tracking, which use your phone’s internal GPS and other sensors to track your whereabouts and feed that info to various apps.
For some, location tracking can be convenient: It helps apps like Google Maps and Uber know where you are to better deliver you information and services. But for those who have just seen Citizenfour, it could be creepy and invasive. And those people may wish to disable their location services.
Here’s how to do it:
On Apple’s iPhone or iPad: Go into your phone’s Settings tab, and then select Privacy. From there, select Location Services. You’ll see a string of apps that use location services. You can choose to disable them all by moving the slider at the top, or disable location services only for specific apps. Does Fruit Ninja really need to know where you are in the world? Probably not.
On Android: Open the App Drawer, go into Settings, select Location, and then enter Google Location Settings. Here, you can turn off Location Reporting and Location History. Location Reporting feeds your location data to various apps, while Location History stores your whereabouts for future use in searches and software like Google Now. You can also jettison your entire location history by selecting “Delete Location History” below Location History.
It’s important to remember that lots of popular apps like Google Maps, Foursquare and more are pretty dependent on having access to your location data to work to the best of their ability — turning off location services means losing some of your smartphone’s capabilities. But that just might be worth it if you’re ultra-concerned about your privacy.