Recent studies show people look at their smartphones 58 times a day on average. Other
studies show the number of glances is closer to 100 times a day. No matter how frequently look
at your phone, you may have never noticed a pretty important icon on the screen. It’s a small
arrow at the top of the screen next to the time. iPhone users may not see it if the dynamic island
displays notifications or apps currently in use.
Go ahead and take a look. Do you see it? If you do, you may wonder what it means.
The arrow represents your phone’s location settings, namely if an app has access and is
currently using your location.
Some apps require using your location for their functionality. Navigation apps such as Apple
Maps, Google Maps, and Waze need your phone’s location in order to give directions. Weather
apps need to know where you are to give current conditions. Apps that search for nearby gas
stations, restaurants, coffee shops, and movie theaters require location as well.
Some apps though have access to your location that don’t really need it.
Apps like Pinterest, photography apps such as BeReal, ESPN, Flipboard, many radio station
apps, Snapchat, some smart home device apps, Amazon, and Walmart shopping apps ask for
your location as well.
To review apps asking for (and gaining access to) your phone’s location, go into settings, then
privacy. Tap the Location Services settings to see all the apps that want to track you.
Gray arrows designate apps that have accessed your location within the past 24 hours. A purple
arrow shows apps that have accessed your location within the last 24 hours.
You can restrict apps from accessing your location. You can authorize your location to apps to
only when you’re using the app, or set it to “ask next time or when you share”.
Furthermore, some apps require you to share your precise location. That makes sense for apps
such as Uber, Lyft, W3W, and navigational apps. Others such as radio apps, local businesses,
calendar apps, and photo album apps may only need your approximate location.
Many free apps not only track your location but can share the location information with other
companies. They won’t do that without your permission though, which you may have given it
when you first installed the app