Skip to Content
Smartphones & gadgets

Your iPhone is secretly mapping you, here’s how to stop it

At this point, the idea of privacy in our digital world seems like, at best, a farce. Really, as we continue to learn about our devices, we see more and more that they are tracking us in many ways, including some that we never thought of.

Our iPhones are no different, unfortunately. Even without help from apps like Facebook, they do a good job of following your every move.

This information may not lead to you dumping your iPhone because, after all, it may be the simple price of having a device that does all the phone can do. However, it’s certainly something to take into consideration going forward.

There are no secrets kept from an iPhone

At least, not in terms of where you have been. Ever wonder how the iPhone is able to, upon you getting in your car, automatically pull up directions to work? Or, when you leave work, how it knows you are heading home?

It’s not only part of location services, but a separate and more in-depth thing called “Significant Locations.”

Want to know how to access it and, if you’d like, turn it off? Here are your steps:

  1. Open your iPhone’s settings
  2. Tap on “Privacy”
  3. Find and tap on “System Services”
  4. Scroll down until you see “Significant Locations” and tap on that

Note: There’s an additional step in iOS 12. Go to “Privacy,” then “Location Services,” scroll down to “System Services,” then “Significant Locations.”

At that point, the phone will ask you to log into your phone. Once you do, you’ll see a list of locations it knows you’ve been.

Now, some of them may seem a bit off to you but that’s because the location is not always precise. But tap on a place and it will open up a page with more specifics, including a map that shows where it thought you were.

Even if it didn’t peg you exactly right, it will have you in the area.

You can turn it off

Individually, you can edit locations so they will no longer be stored in your phone. To do that, tap on any city it had you in and then, on the next screen, tap on the “Edit” button in the upper right-hand corner.

That will bring about a red circle next to the location, which you could then tap on to remove it.

Then again, if you’d like to turn off Significant Locations altogether, you just need to scroll to the top of the page that lists the city locations and tap on the green button on the top-right in the tab.

Why does the phone track us like this?

According to Apple, this feature exists so that the phone can learn the places that are significant to us and therefore be able to provide personalized services, like predictive traffic routing and improved Photos Memories.

That said, it certainly seems like an invasion of privacy and one that could lead to some real problems. If the phone is tracking our whereabouts, who else may know about them?

According to Apple, no one. They say the data that goes between your cloud-connected devices is encrypted. Unless someone steals your phone and password, there is nothing they can do to access it.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment with the ad-free Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the Tech Forum.

Join Now