iPhones and Androids keep logs of their users’ locations, and FOX13 found many smartphone users were unaware of the features that track them.
The features keep a list of users’ locations, documenting the dates and times of each visit. The location setting isn’t an app. It’s automatically turned on when someone purchases an iPhone or Android.
“It's one thing if you go and download it and want to put stuff on,” Michael Carroll, an iPhone user, said, after learning about the feature. “I think it's a little different when they automatically got you.”
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FOX13 consumer investigator Kristin Leigh was surprised to find a list of places she recently visited on vacation, including Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana and Chattanooga, Tenn.
The log in her phone not only documented the cities Kristin visited, it also documented the hotels she slept in, the restaurants she ate at, and the family members’ homes she visited.
“What is the benefit?” Jacci Hooper, an iPhone user, asked, after learning about the feature. “Who else is getting that information? Those are my concerns.”
According to Apple, the "frequent locations" feature helps improve location services on iPhones.
“This data is kept solely on your device and won't be sent to Apple without your consent,” according to Apple’s website. “It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.”
Android, which is powered by Google, is a bit trickier. Users can turn off “Google Location History” in their settings, or by logging onto Google Timeline.
Similar to Apple, Google says the feature helps with its location services, adding that the information stored is “private.” For example, Google says the location feature helps with automatic commute predictions and improved search results.
“Location History helps you get useful information by creating a private map of where you go with your logged-in devices,” Google says on its website. “It’s easy to change or delete locations, days, or your entire Locations History. You can turn it off at any time.”
Despite both Google and Apple assuring customers the information isn’t shared without their consent, smartphone users told FOX13 the feature makes them uneasy.
“It probably was somewhere deep in those terms and services but that’s so long no one ever reads those,” Mason Hooper, an iPhone user, said, adding that he plans to turn off the feature.
If you want to turn off the feature on iPhone, follow these steps:
- In "Settings," select "Privacy"
- From the "Privacy" screen, select "Location Services"
- From "Location Services" scroll past all of your apps go "System Services"
- From "System Services," select "Frequent Locations"
- Slide the Toggle by "Frequent Locations" from right to left to turn off the setting
If you want to turn off the “Location History” feature on a Google/Android device, follow these steps:
- In "Settings," select "Location"
- From "Location," select "Google Location Settings"
- Select "Location Reporting" and "Location History," and move the slider to the left to turn the settings off in each page.
Cox Media Group