Advertisers panic as iPhone users turn off GPS tracking

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iOS 13.3 in beta
iOS 13 has made it easier for users to shut down location tracking.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Location data, for a long time a river of gold that enriched companies with digital ad revenues, is starting to dry up as more and more consumers deactivate location tracking on their smartphones.

The growing shortage of GPS data became pronounced shortly after the launch iOS 13, which features a pop-up option to cut off tracking if your iPhone detects an app gathering data on your whereabouts.

Magnetic bands could mess with Apple Watch Series 5 compass

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Compass
Compasses and magnets don’t mix.
Photo: Apple

One of the best new features on Apple Watch Series 5 may not work well — or at all — depending on what type of band wear with your watch.

Like all compasses, the Apple Watch Series 5 compass is sensitive to magnetic interference. Cupertino warns customers on its website that some of its bands with magnetic clasps could adversely affect compass readings.

Stay away from these bands if you want your Apple Watch compass to work.

How to save gigabytes of data while traveling

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Nothing says
Nothing says "freedom" and "pioneer spirit" like a creepy abandoned canoe.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Summer! That time of year where you stay in somebody else’s home via Airbnb, crank up their air conditioning and wear a sweater in the house, even though it’s 90 degrees outside. Aka the season where you leave the limitless comfort of your home Wi-Fi, to venture out into the world using just a restricted cellular plan.

Summer revives that old pioneering spirit of hardship, the bare essentials of living, and of making do with whatever you have. And just like the original English and Spanish invaders of the modern-day United States, you’ll have to do without the comforts of on-demand GPS and automatic app updates.

Today we’ll see how you can stretch your meager data allowance while traveling.

iOS 13 lets you strip location data when sharing photos

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iOS 13 keeps your location private.
iOS 13 keeps your location private.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

When you send a photo to somebody in iOS 12 or earlier, you also share that photo’s location. If you upload a picture to a classified ad or auction site, you potentially show everyone exactly where you live. And if you send a photo to a friend or family member, they may share that image publicly (on Facebook, for instance) — and share your home address along with the picture.

In iOS 13, you can disable location sharing for any photo you share. Some annoying limits hurt this new feature, and you have to remember to do it every time you share an image or video, but it’s still a lot better than what we have in iOS 12.

Apple Watch’s GPS helps track down burglars

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App Home Screen Apple Watch Series 4
Crime doesn't pay. At least, not if the person owns an Apple Watch.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The GPS function on a stolen Apple Watch helped retrieve the device for its rightful owner, says a report from The Sacramento Bee.

After arriving back home to find her house had been burgled, the 25-year-old rightful owner contacted the police. They tracked the Apple Watch down to a local Walmart, where two suspects were arrested. It turns out that it’s never a good look to deny a crime while carrying a stolen watch in back pocket!

How to stop apps from tracking your location

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Wherever you go, your iPhone is tracking youR location
Wherever you go, your iPhone is tracking you.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Your iPhone apps can track your location. You already know that, but maybe you tell yourself that that weather app just uses your current location to give you an accurate forecast, or that your bike-routing and tracking app is just keeping a count of miles and calories.

In reality, any one of these apps may be taking that location data and selling it. One way to handle this is to keep up to date with the privacy policies of any location-aware apps you use, but that’s too much work for most of us. Instead, why not just deny them access to your location? On iOS, that’s easy, and it works.

Your GPS is about to become way more accurate

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Apple Maps, Waze, etc. will know just where you are thanks to Europe’s Galileo satellite system.
Apple Maps, Waze, etc. will know just where you are thanks to Europe’s Galileo satellite system.
Photo: European GNSS Agency

Phones and other devices located in the U.S. are now permitted to access signals coming from the European equivalent of the GPS system, named for the astronomer Galileo. This should make them significantly more accurate.

Recent iPhones have the hardware necessary to receive these signals, so it’s just up to Apple to add this feature.

GPS workout maps prove far more accurate on Apple Watch Series 4

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We took Apple Watch Series 4 to the running track for the ultimate test of GPS accuracy
We took Apple Watch Series 4 to the running track for the ultimate test of GPS accuracy
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch is pretty awesome at doing a lot of things. But mapping workouts isn’t one of them. At least, not until now. Back in 2016, I was pretty disappointed with the maps I got from my Apple Watch Series 2 (the first model that came with built-in GPS). When I tested it at my local running track, the maps it generated looked like random scribbles.

Fast-forward to today, and things look a whole lot better. Last week, I repeated that test with a shiny new Apple Watch Series 4 and got some very interesting results.