New Figures Suggest Apple's Location Privacy Controls in iOS 13 Are Working

Friday January 24, 2020 12:16 AM PST by Tim Hardwick

location iconSince the launch of iOS 13 last fall, third-party access to users' background location data has reportedly declined by 68 percent, according to Location Sciences, a firm that analyzes location data for marketers (via Fast Company).

The firm also found that foreground data sharing, which occurs only while an app is open, has fallen by 24 percent.

According to a separate report by Digiday, third-party apps are now seeing opt-in rates under 50 percent for collecting location data when they're not in use.

The shortage of GPS data has been put down to Apple's recently introduction of pop-up options that let users selectively control background location tracking on the fly.

In ‌iOS 13‌, iPhone and iPad users are periodically reminded about apps that are continuously tracking their location, complete with a map of those locations and options to "Change to Only While Using," "Always Allow," and "Just Once."

"As those particular options were made available to users, we do attribute that to the decrease in sharing," Jason Smith, Location Sciences' chief business officer, told Fast Company.

While the report indicates that Apple's new background location tracking options are having their intended effect, a recent report by The Wall Street Journal suggests that some developers are concerned that frequent location tracking reminders will hurt adoption of their apps.

Apple responded to the report by insisting that the changes were made to further safeguard user privacy.

"Apple has not built a business model around knowing a customer's location or the location of their device," an Apple spokesperson told WSJ, adding that Apple builds its hardware and software with privacy in mind.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
10 weeks ago
The thing is most consumers don't understand the differences which can in fact hurt developers and the customers experience of an app. For example, Apple provides Region Monitoring as part of their SDK which needs 'Always' location services to function, without it, it just won't work.

I am developing an app that requires Region Monitoring but I have no interest in the users location, in fact the location details never leave the device but to provide the necessary experience, 'Always' location services must be selected.

Don't get me wrong, if other devs have ulterior motives, which we know some do, then this is very welcome but for those devs, such as myself, who need Always location for a feature in the dev-kit that Apple provides, it's not good news.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 weeks ago


The thing is most consumers don't understand the differences which can in fact hurt developers and the customers experience of an app. For example, Apple provides Region Monitoring as part of their SDK which needs 'Always' location services to function, without it, it just won't work.

I am developing an app that requires Region Monitoring but I have no interest in the users location, in fact the location details never leave the device but to provide the necessary experience, 'Always' location services must be selected.

Don't get me wrong, if other devs have ulterior motives, which we know some do, then this is very welcome but for those devs, such as myself, who need Always location for a feature in the dev-kit that Apple provides, it's not good news.

Allowing Region Monitoring without periodic notification could be one of the changes Apple plans on making ?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 weeks ago
I don’t know how much difference it makes with having strict privacy on for consumers realistically. However I’m happy that Apple has taken this stand and is why I’ve been using iPhone for many years and have no intention in going anywhere else.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 weeks ago


The thing is most consumers don't understand the differences which can in fact hurt developers and the customers experience of an app. For example, Apple provides Region Monitoring as part of their SDK which needs 'Always' location services to function, without it, it just won't work.

I am developing an app that requires Region Monitoring but I have no interest in the users location, in fact the location details never leave the device but to provide the necessary experience, 'Always' location services must be selected.

Don't get me wrong, if other devs have ulterior motives, which we know some do, then this is very welcome but for those devs, such as myself, who need Always location for a feature in the dev-kit that Apple provides, it's not good news.

Apple should retool the system to be more precise. Such as, “Always on, but location details aren’t shared”.

My example may not be the best worded, but there should be a way for developers, such as yourself, to safely enable location sharing without compromising someone’s privacy.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 weeks ago
I wish there was a way to quickly always allow in the background for some apps to avoid constant notifications.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
10 weeks ago


some developers are concerned that frequent location tracking reminders will hurt adoption of their apps.


I have rather their adoption rate hurt then my privacy. I want to choose with whom I share my location when and how often. If they have a legit reason to ask for this in their app that benefits me then I share it, otherwise not.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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