Many apps today require users’ permission to use their location to work properly like, Google Maps, Uber, etc. However, many users are unclear about how location-sharing works. Also, they are unaware that they can opt between sharing their “general” or “exact” location.
Types of Location-Sharing
There are two types of location data users share with apps. The first, general location, gives apps a radius of users’ current location but not an accurate address. Hence, an app will know the neighborhood of a city a user’s in, but not the pin-point address.
The second, precise location, gives the app the user’s exact location. Generally, it is not bad, but that depends on the app. For instance, navigation apps should know a user’s exact location. Similarly, sharing the exact location is handy when tagging a restaurant, bar, or other place.
But that shows that only a handful of apps need to know a user’s precise location. For instance, social media apps don’t exactly need users’ current location.
Should Users Share Their Precise Location?
Sometimes, sharing precise locations can give additional arsenal to hackers or cybercriminals against users. The reason is that since it shares users’ exact whereabouts, someone can use social media posts to track them.
Thankfully, it isn’t public information, as long as a user’s account is private. In addition, social media apps do not share users’ precise location (although they have it) until they tag it in a post. However, sharing exact locations concerns privacy more than security.
If the exact location is on, users share their specific whereabouts with all the companies interested in selling them stuff. And that can get pretty annoying at some point. So, it’s better to turn off precise location.
How to Change Precise Location Settings on the Phone
Unfortunately, users don’t exactly see the precise location button when they open an app for the first time. It is hidden in the mini-map (in iPhones) and set to “On” by default. So, users need to disable it from the beginning before choosing the main location setting, like whether they’d like to share their location with the app all the time, only when using the app, or never.
But, users can also tweak this setting if they have already granted these permissions beforehand. Thus, they can easily manage the exact location settings on iPhones (running iOS 14 and later) or Android devices (running Android 12 and newer).
For iPhone: Open Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Choose the app to manage > Toggle off Precise Location
For Android: Tap and hold the app to manage > App Info > Permissions > All Permissions > Location > Disable Precise location (and enable Approximate location)