iOS 13 will show you a map of locations where apps have tracked you

Chris Smith

One of the main themes of Apple’s WWDC 2019 keynote last week was privacy. Apple unveiled several new features for its various operating systems showing a renewed commitment to privacy at a time where its rivals are also making user privacy a top priority. Location data also came up during the presentation, with Apple unveiling a new location-specific feature that lets you instruct an app to use your location information only once. After that, the app will have to keep asking each time it wants to track you. On top of that, Apple will show you a map of the location data an app has acquired, as well as an explanation of why each particular app needs access to your location.

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The screenshots below, via 9to5Mac, show the kind of notifications you might expect on your iPhone and iPad.

One of them comes from the Tesla app and reads:

Tesla uses your location to show your proximity to your vehicle (while the app is open), and to optimize phone key on your support vehicles (while the app is in the background).

The other app is from Apple’s own Apple Store:

We’ll provide you with relevant products, features, and services depending on where you are.

The popup notifications appear when an app is using your location in the background, and it features a map with the actual location data the app has tracked. The map detail is the kind of visual trick that will make you pay closer attention to apps that may be using and abusing your location data.

The report notes that Apple will continue to deliver these notifications for all apps that keep using location data in the background, offering users a better look at what apps might be tracking their whereabouts, and giving them options to change access from “Always” to “Only while using.”

Apple also explained that other platforms deal with location info differently. tvOS does not support Always, while watchOS doesn’t need it. macOS doesn’t have Always or When in use, and iPad apps for Mac may get Always as well as When in use.

iOS 13 also changes the way apps can read Bluetooth and Wi-Fi data to approximate your location. Apple is “shutting the door on that abuse,” Craig Federighi said on stage last week.

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