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Your iPhone records the places you visit without your knowledge with GPS

Your iPhone records the places you visit without your knowledge with GPS

One of the main criticisms of mobiles has to do with the fact that thanks to them we are always accessible. Through a call or with the GPS of the phone itself. Precisely, the location and GPS functions of the iPhone are in the eyes of everyone: users, security experts and cybercriminals. And it is that an invasive app will always want to access the location of your mobile. It’s more. Your iPhone’s own iOS system accesses and saves this information in several ways. One of them, quite unknown, is called Important Places.

For years, Apple has focused on protecting and defending the privacy and security of its users’ data. With a special focus on iOS, the iPhone’s operating system, there are more and more things that we can block, accept or deny in the privacy section of the phone. And one of those most delicate aspects has to do with our mobile location. Practical information for us but that can fall into the wrong hands.

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So if you have an iPhone, you can give apps one by one permission to use your location. With various levels of permissions. It is also possible to do this with the iOS system itself, which is known as system services. These features also use iPhone GPS and we can stop them if you are concerned about your privacy. And, finally, we will know the function. Important Places which stores your mobile location for use in iOS apps and is not known to many.

Turn location services on and off for apps

Since Settings > Privacy > Location you can control which apps access your mobile location. Information provided by your iPhone’s GPS along with other data provided by Bluetooth and WiFi. You can directly disable location sharing by clicking the Location button or configure each app one by one. Also, every time an app wants to use your location, iOS asks for it.

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To make control more personalized, there are four levels of privacy: You can prevent access to your location always, have it ask you every time it needs to, access it when it needs to without asking you, or finally have access to your location always.

And when this happens, you will see a notice at the top of your iPhone screen. A hollow arrow when an app receives the location of your mobile “under certain circumstances”, according to the iOS system itself. A purple arrow indicates that an app has recently used your location. Finally, one gray arrow indicates that an app or service has used your location “in the last 24 hours”.

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iPhone GPS and system services

In addition to third-party apps and apps that come with iOS, there are other system services that sometimes require your iPhone’s GPS to know your phone’s location. You’ll find them in Settings > Privacy > Location > System services. You can disable them one by one if you are concerned about your privacy, but make sure you know what you are doing, as each of those disabled options will affect the behavior of iOS and from your iPhone. If you notice these changes for the worse, you are always in time to activate them again.

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Specifically, the system services that need your iPhone’s GPS data have to do with the Find my iPhone function, with the search for nearby mobile networks, with the function of sharing your location in different applications, such as Messages or WhatsApp, the control and management of devices through your iPhone through HomeKit and much more.

As with applications, third-party or iOS, when those services use the location of your mobile, an indicator in the form of an arrow appears. And optionally, you can also see that arrow at the top of the screen, just like with apps. You can turn it on from Settings > Privacy > Location > System services > Status bar icon.

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What do we do with the important places

At this point, you know the most important thing about how iOS uses your iPhone’s GPS. But an option that is somewhat hidden and that can draw attention to those who are jealous of your privacy. It’s known as Important Places and it’s found in Settings > Privacy > Location > System Services > Important Places. In English it is known as Significant Locations.

As indicated by the iPhone itself, when this option is activated, “it authorizes the iPhone and the devices connected to iCloud to remember the places that are important to you”. The rationale is to “give you useful location information in Maps, Calendar, Photos, and other apps.” And for our peace of mind, iOS tells us that “important places are end-to-end encrypted and cannot be read by Apple.” Not only that. When you want to access them, iOS will ask you to enter your secret code or use the Touch ID or Face ID.

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These Important Places are mobile locations that your iPhone’s GPS has detected repeatedly over time. And that iOS deduces that they are places that you visit with some regularity, so it should be taken into account. Your habitual residence, your place of work, where your parents and/or friends live, where you usually shop, etc.

If you still don’t want me to save this information, you can disable Important Places by clicking the corresponding button. You can also click Clear History to delete old records. How will this affect iOS, your iPhone or your Apple Watch? In different ways. Two examples: you won’t be able to get predictive traffic routing on apple maps AND Photos won’t be able to create albums or collections of photos of a specific place or date.