Protect apps from tracking your location with this helpful phone hack.

By Rachel Sylvester
Updated December 10, 2018

Aside from a wallet and house keys, the one constant in any person’s pocket is inevitably their smartphone. Today, as an increasing amount of Americans rely on their device for more than merely texting, the idea of leaving your home without the safety of your cell phone is impossible to imagine. But as tuned in as we are to our steady stream of news, conversations, e-mails and Seamless updates, it turns out there’s a more sinister side to our daily app consumption.

A recent report by the New York Times revealed the truth behind our cell phone usage, claiming that dozens of companies use our smartphone’s location to further the efforts of hedge funds and advertisers. The report went on to outline that the personal data of millions of Americans isn’t as anonymous as we once thought it to be, thanks in part to apps that track a consumer’s daily habits in an effort to sell location data and services to outside companies.

While it’s required for smartphone apps to outline any location data they may share with outside agencies in their privacy policy, determining the specific apps that are divulging your daily whereabouts can be tricky. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to turn off location sharing to help you keep your daily habits—Target runs and school drop-offs included—a complete secret. The easiest way to ensure your information isn’t being shared to the masses is simply to turn off location services on your smartphone. If you own an iPhone, you you can do this by navigating to your phone’s main settings screen and selecting the button that reads “privacy.”

iphone settings

Once there, you’ll be directed to a screen that lists “location services” at the top of the page. Select the location services button at the top and toggle the green button to turn off the functionality. Once you do that, location services will be disabled for all apps, but your location will be temporarily restored if you use specific features, like Find My iPhone or Lost Mode.

iphone settings screen

Android users can disable app-level permissions by navigating to their settings, followed by security & location, and lastly, the location tab. Once you reach the app-level permissions screen on your device, you’re then able to turn off your location for a single app by toggling to the left. Still concerned about how your daily cell phone use is impacting your personal life and safety? Test out these three ways to hack your phone so you actually use it less often.