Why Your iPhone Keeps Asking About Background Location Use

A location message in the background showing a map on an iPhone with iOS 13.

You’ve probably seen a lot of messages about apps using your background location on your iPhone in the past few months. It’s not just you, it’s a change designed to reveal the amount of location data you share with apps.

This change aims to strengthen confidentiality: since IOS 13 launch, marketers collect 68% less location data in the background. This is what Location Sciences, a location-based advertising company, said Fast Company towards the end of January 2020.

Access to background location in iOS 13

If you had installed these apps before iOS 13 and given them access to monitor your location in the background, these apps accessed your location even before the update. That hasn’t changed – the only change is that your iPhone will notify you.

For example, a weather app can use your location to display nearby forecasts. A map application can use your background location to determine where you parked. And yes, many applications have captured this location data and sent it to marketers for advertising purposes.

From iOS 13, released in September 2019, this position sharing is less silent. An older version of iOS allows you to give an application the ability to “always” display your location and forget it. iOS 13 won’t let you forget. It will regularly display pop-up windows with the message “[App] used your location [number of] times in the background in the past [number of] days. Do you want to continue to allow use of the background location? “

To hammer home, iOS displays a map of the locations the app has received from your phone or tablet. Apple is trying to show how much you give access to this app.

When you see this prompt, you can press “Switch to only during use” and the app will only have access to your location when you open and use it. Or, you can press “Always allow”, consenting to continuous access to the location in the background.

A background location usage warning for Dark Sky on the iPhone home screen.

How do I turn off the location warning?

If you trust an app such as your favorite weather or map app, you may want to turn off location location prompts. Unfortunately, there is no “Don’t ask me again” option. iOS 13 will continue to ask you about apps using your background location, unless you tap “Switch to only during use”. iOS will not notify you of apps that can only access your location when you are using them.

The good news is that we have noticed that these prompts become less frequent over time. In other words, if you keep telling your iPhone or iPad that you don’t mind accessing the location of an app, you won’t be asked about it as often.

Enabling background location access has become more difficult, too

The Find My application requesting access to the location on an iPhone running iOS 13.Konstantin Savusia / Shutterstock.com

Apple made another change in iOS 13 that made accessing the background location more complicated. Applications can no longer ask you to access your background location with a pop-up when you open them. You can select “Allow when using the application”, “Allow once” or “Do not allow” in the pop-up window, but that’s it.

This “Allow once” option is new in iOS 13also: you can now give an application access to your location only once, and will need to request access to your location again in the future.

To allow an app to access your background location, you need to go to Settings> Privacy> Location services> [App Name] and select “Always”. Applications should ask you to do so rather than prompting for an access request.

Location access options for Dark Sky in iOS 13 settings.

Apple tries to prevent people from quickly agreeing to share their location without realizing the seriousness of the data they offer. You must do everything you can to allow access to the background location in a special way, just like when you are give “full access” to a third-party keyboard or activation of a third-party password manager.

RELATED: How to make iPhone apps always ask for location access

Do you need to allow access to the background location?

Whether you should “always allow” access is a choice you have to make yourself based on how much you trust the application and how you use it.

Applications may display a short message in this prompt, explaining why they are using your location access. For example, your weather app may indicate that the location is used to provide weather that applies to your current location at all times. Different types of apps have different reasons for asking for your location.

If you disable location access when you are not using an app, you will lose access to some of the features of the app that depend on background execution. For example, The tile allows you to track your lost itemseven when they are out of range of your phone. It does this by using the Tile app on the phones of other Tile users to locate nearby Tile trackers and share their physical location with Tile servers. Without access to the location in the background, Tile cannot do this.

Some developers call these anticompetitive changes

These changes are one of the reasons why Tile and other developers argue that these changes are “anticompetitiveBecause they hamper applications that depend on location tracking in the background always on. It is more complicated for users to enable background location access for an app like Tile, and iOS 13 will continue to display warning messages asking if users really want to share their location. they allow it.

This can be difficult for developers – and it would be nice if there was a way to tell iOS “don’t ask me anymore”, but changes to iOS 13 have helped many people take more control over their sharing of position.

RELATED: Did you just update to iOS 13? Change these eight settings now

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