New location settings will alert you when an app is tracking your whereabouts.

By Alexandra Schonfeld
Updated June 27, 2017
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Ever wonder why apps begin to push ads that correspond to restaurants and attractions in an area you've recently visited? How do they know where you are? Here's what's happening: Numerous apps on your phone—often without your knowledge—are keeping tabs on your location.

But this September, Apple’s newest iOS update will help combat this unwanted surveillance. iOS 11 will come equipped with a feature that displays a prominent blue bar across the top of your screen—like the green bar that appears when you're on a phone call—to alert you when apps are using your location. This will improve upon the alert—the small arrow near the battery icon that often goes unnoticed—used in the current version of iOS.

The new update will also give users the option to allow apps to access their location “always,” “never,” or “while using app”—the latter option was not always available on previous versions. If an app defaults to always using your location, the new blue bar will warn users that they are being tracked by that particular application.

The new addition of the blue bar will make users more aware of which apps are keeping tabs on them—and how often. On top of that, the addition of varied location setting options will ultimately give users more control over how much private information they're sharing with the applications they're downloading. And as an added bonus, restricting location services can improve battery life.

The new tool seems to be coming at just the right time, too. Last week, Snapchat drew criticism for one of its latest features—a map that showed user's exact location. Critics sighted safety concerns, especially for the app's younger users, due to the default sharing settings.