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Home / Tips and Tricks / Why do so many apps ask for your location and what do they really need?

Why do so many apps ask for your location and what do they really need?



Smartphone data privacy is usually top of the list. The thing is, so many apps now ask for your location, that we never really think about why they're even being asked.

Recently, the New York Times published a Bombshell report detailing how many location data apps you have (it's more than you think) and how they use that data to make money through targeted advertising. This concept is nothing new and is already widely known, but the report goes into much more detail than what we have seen before.

RELATED: Do you know how much you share your location?

However, before you jump frantically into your phone's settings and turn off location data for each app, you should know which apps have location services enabled and which are not. And more importantly, you should know why some apps even need it.

Why apps ask for your location

There are various reasons why they do this Ask for your location. Some apps need your location to work properly, others are a great way to improve the app, and others do not need your location at all.

Instead of going through every single existing app and telling you why they want your location, here is a general breakdown of the different app categories, starting with the obvious:

  • Weather: Using your location can Weather apps will accurately forecast your region, especially "hyperlocal" weather apps like Dark Sky.
  • Maps and Travel: Navigation applications require your location for turn by turn directions. Most travel applications use your location to find cool places nearby. In addition, carpools (like Uber and Lyft) use your position so that the drivers know where they are going to be picked up.
  • Health & Fitness: Running and other training apps use your position to track your runs, including distance and time.
  • Social: Social media apps ask for your location if you want to "check in" or check out in a cool place.
  • Smarthome: Your location is used for geofencing Devices in your home are automatically turned on and off when you leave or go home.
  • Shopping: A variety of retail store apps ask for your location for simple things, such as: For example, finding a nearest location.
  • Camera: Interestingly, camera apps can also use your location data to insert the location into the EXIF ​​data in photos.
  • Games: Few games require your location, but some (like Pokemon) Go) is heavily dependent on it.
  • Streaming: Most live TV channel apps require your location to confirm regional power outages and certain features, especially for sports streaming apps.

Which apps need your location and which not?

You Now Know Mostly Why Apps Ask for Your Location It's time to explore the topic and wonder which apps our locations need and which they do not.

Technically, only a few apps need your location. Most of the time, it's just an added convenience and bypasses a manual step that you would otherwise have to do.

For example, you could manually enter your zip code for many different apps that would normally use your phone's GPS (such as weather apps and shopping apps). Sure, it's a bit more uncomfortable, but you would not specify your exact location every time. But most of the time it's easier and faster to find out where we are and that's fine.

Some apps, however, are completely useless, without resort services needing to be activated the largest Without knowing the exact location, Google Maps would have no idea when to turn left at 300 feet into that street ,

Running and cycling apps are another example. Technically, you do not need to tell your apps your location, but without it you could not track your outdoor runs. At this point, the app would be useless.

For apps where you can not completely disable location services, you can make the least amount of adjustments to the settings so that the app captures only your location data when you do this. The app must be opened and running. This at least limits how much location data is collected by these apps.

Even if the location services are disabled, you are not completely clear.

If you've disabled the location in many of your apps, it does not mean that there's no other way to find your location. [19659002] Once connected to the Internet, this may reveal your approximate location. Services can use your IP address to bring your location to your zip code. Of course it's not as accurate as the GPS on your phone, but it's something.

And as mentioned above, even if you have not enabled any location services in your weather app, you still need to enter a city or city zip code to get the prediction. Although apps may not know your exact location, they still have a good idea of ​​which city you live in and what areas you should be in regularly.

Also, it's not uncommon for apps and services to continue tracking you even after you turn off location tracking settings.


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