Your iPhone will track locations that you visit frequently as a way to provide accurate and up-to-date location-based system services. Over time, frequent location tracking is able to guess potential destinations to provide useful information. Take, for example, estimated travel time in the “Today” view on your lock and home screen. It is able to do so even if an address is not connected to an event in the calendar.
This is different from typical location services settings, as this is not app-based but rather a system-based process that actually tracks and stores the number of trips taken to a specific location. For those that value privacy over location-predicted data, it may be best to turn this feature off. This article will detail steps to do so in great detail and explain further why data is collected and how it can be useful to you.
Disable “Frequent Location Tracking” on iPhone
1. Begin by opening the Settings app on your iPhone.
2. From here, search for “Location” in the search bar to jump to location settings.
3. Alternately, you can tap “Privacy,” then “Location Services.”
4. Scroll to the bottom of this page, past the app settings associated with location services. Tap “System Services.”
5. In system services select “Frequent Locations.” This is the last option before the “Product Improvement” grouping. Here you will be able to turn this feature on or off as well as view amassed data.
Some users are reporting through varying sources that frequent locations may not be available on older models of iPhone and their corresponding releases of iOS. Your mileage may vary.
What Frequent Locations Reveals
So, what does frequent location-tracking reveal? To you, a whole lot. To Apple and third parties? Thankfully, nothing at all unless you, the user, approves it. Backing this, Apple claims this data is stored securely and only on your device and therefore not backed up to iCloud.
Nonetheless, if this tracking concerns you, flip the provided switch. As previously mentioned, any predicted travel time will cease to be featured in the Today view. In addition, Siri won’t be able to accurately guess your commute details without direct input – like a calendar detail.
You can also view all the details of tracked frequent locations. For parents, this is one underrated option to view a child’s location out of concern for safety. The feature specifically stores an assumed address, the radius of the location based on that address, the dates visited, the time frame of the visit on those dates, and the sum number of visits to a particular location. These locations can also be viewed on a map by tapping a stored location.
Previously collected data will remain after frequent location tracking is disabled and must be deleted separately to truly wipe all data associated with frequent locations tracking. To delete this data, tap “Clear History,” and tap again to confirm.
The bottom line is that your iPhone is amassing location data for on-board predictive services, with no intent to distribute. While Apple could do this without leaving the option to disable frequent locations tracking, they provide this option as it furthers the brand’s reputability and trustworthiness from customers. Frequent location services can be a great tool or a nuisance altogether, depending on your point of view. Regardless, the option is there.