16 January 2014
How to stop your smartphone from tracking and sending your location
Photo remixed from an original by Yurchyks/Shutterstock.
Your smartphone tracks your location for all sorts of useful things—driving navigation, updating the weather forecast, and even live traffic updates. However, if you'd rather not have Google and Apple tracking that information—not to mention having it available on your phone for thieves to find—here's how you can turn off location tracking.
Location tracking actually provides lots of useful things to us, but while Google and Apple collect all that data anonymously, it's still stored on your phone (and in Apple's case, your computer). Anyone with the right tools could easily find out where you've been with your phone over a significant period of time, so if you're worried about this, you may want to turn this features off. Here's how.
Luckily, Android's location tracking is actually an opt-in feature. You may or may not have enabled it when you first set up your phone. To find out, head to Settings > Location and Security, and uncheck "Use Wireless Networks". This will make applications like Maps a bit slower to grab your current location, and it won't be quite as accurate, but Google won't be collecting any location data, nor will it be stored on your phone thereafter.
However, if you want to clear the previously cached locations from your phone, you'll need to rooted your device. Then after installing the free Location Cache app, you can view a map of your tracked locations on it, as well as clear them from your phone and disable the cache with one tap.
In iOS, the situation is a bit more complicated. Turning off location services will stop sending data back to Apple, but it will still cache your location on your phone, so anyone with access to your computer or your phone can see where you've been (since iOS syncs all that information back to iTunes).