apple spy snoop ios 7 settings iPhone iPad binoculars

What are the most important iOS 7 location privacy settings you should enable as soon as possible after upgrading or buying a new iPhone 5s, 5c or iPad?

It’s ironic that in iOS 7 or Android, Windows Phone 8 etc the Privacy settings are hidden away where they’re hard to find. So we’ve burrowed into the new iOS 7 Settings to help you secure your device from prying eyes, and also offer some top security tips for iPhone and iPad.

iOS 7 iPhone and iPad Privacy Location Settings

Where are the iOS 7 Privacy settings?

Go to the iPhone or iPad’s Home screen and tap the grey Settings icon.

Apple iOS 7 Settings Logo

Scroll down until you reach the block of options starting with General. Below General are Sounds, Wallpapers & Brightness, and Privacy.

Privacy Settings in iOS 7

So far, quite easy to find.

Tap Privacy.

iOS 7 Privacy Settings Location Services

Here you’ll find various function and app settings, and also Location Services, which we are going to discuss here.

What does Apple's iOS 7 Location Services track?

Location Services uses the iPhone or iPad’s GPS along with crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile phone mast locations to work out where you are at any given time.

If Location Services is On your iPhone or iPad will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby hotspots and mobile phone masts to Apple in “an anonymous and encrypted form” to augment Apple’s crowd-sourced database.

Your iPhone or iPad tracks where you have purchased or used apps. It monitors places you’ve been, as well as how often you go there. This information Apple assures us is not sent back to Apple without consent. But note that by enabling Location Services you are giving consent to the “transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and location search queries by Apple and its partners and licensees”.

Apple also uses this information to target geographically relevant ads using its iAd system (more below).

Location Services is where you can control which apps have access to your locational information. If you’re using a Map, travel or weather app or local services/shops finder then letting your device know where you are makes sense. Other apps can mind their own business.

You can turn off Location Services for individual apps and also for all web sites. To turn off Location Servcies for web sites flick the location switch for the Safari app in Location Services.

(Note: While you may turn off various or all Location Services it’s still working away in the background. In its Location Services & Privacy information Apple states that “for safety purposes” your location information “may be used for emergency calls to aid response efforts regardless of whether you enable Location Services”.)

Hidden privacy settings in IOS 7

There are Location privacy settings that are so hidden away that you’d hardly know they’re there, and we think it’s important that you do check out these secret settings.

Right at the bottom of the app list in Location Services there’s an innocuous option called System Services. Sound boring, right? Keep reading.

iOS 7 Location System Services

First, to make sure you know when apps are using your location make sure that the location Status Bar Icon is switched on. You’ll find a slider switch right at the bottom of the System Services page.

iOS 7 Apple location status bar icon

Now learn what each of the purple location items means in iOS 7. These will appear in the top right of your menu bar. If you think location is irrelevant to the app in question, go back to Location Services to switch it off.

Purple location services icons in iOS 7 iPhone iPad 

There are at least three settings here that are turned on by default and we don’t think some of them should be.

iOS 7 System Services hidden settings

Here’s three we recommend you switch off immediately.

iOS 7 System Services hidden settings disable

Diagnostics & Usage

As mentioned above, Apple uses your location information for a veriety of reasons. Yes, it’s supposedly anonymous but – and I don’t want to seem paranoid here – I don’t believe anything is truly anonymous these days. Disabling this data grab isn’t going to affect the way you sue your iPhone or iPad or any of the apps on it so why not switch it off.

Location-Based iAds

Apple collects, uses, and shares “precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device” just so it can fire geographically relevant ads at you. I think most of us can put up with ignoring irrelevant advertising if it means less of our personal information is collected, shared and used by Lord knows who.

Frequent Locations

Apple captures data about your “Frequent Locations”. Why? Apple says its uses this to improve its Maps app, but it’s also a massive invasion of your privacy. It monitors how long you stay in places – yet it’s not always accurate about where you are (much like Apple Maps). It’s handy if you get a knock on the head and lose all memory of where you’ve been but otherwise is just Apple sticking its long nose into your personal life.

If you’ve found any other secret settings in iOS 7, let me know in the Comments below or via Twitter @simonjary.

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