| Cult of Mac

Stop following me! Tweak iPhone location settings to keep spies at bay.


You can see all of the locations your iPhone thinks are significant and turn off the location features in Settings.
Your iPhone keeps track of locations you visit frequently.
Photo: Rawpixel Ltd, CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

If you’re uncomfortable with social media apps tracking your movements, here’s how to stop them using your iPhone’s built-in Location Services.

Or if you’re moving to a different city or to a new job, it can be annoying seeing travel suggestions to the wrong place. Resetting your location history will start from a clean slate.

If you find yourself traveling to a country with an authoritarian government, as everyone attending this year’s Olympics were, clearing your phone’s location history is a safe bet.

These moves may also protect you from shady data brokers, who spy on and sell your movements.

Here’s how to do it.

Advertisers panic as iPhone users turn off GPS tracking


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.

Find lost items anywhere in the world with GeoZilla GPS Tracker [Review]


GeoZilla GPS Tracker
The tiny GeoZilla GPS Tracker can be found anywhere cell phones work.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The GeoZilla GPS Tracker can find your dog if he gets out of the yard, even if he takes a plane to Reno. Or it can locate your lost luggage if the airline accidentally ships it to Australia.

There are plenty of tracking tags that can discover your keys in your living room, but the GeoZilla GPS Tracker uses built-in cellular-wireless access so it can be found anywhere.

Read on to find out if this is the ultra-portable global tracker you’ve been hoping for.

FCC tries to confirm carriers stopped selling phone location data


Apple Maps reservation OpenTable
You can’t escape your phone company tracking you, but the FCC can make them stop selling the information.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The CEOs of the big four US wireless carriers were asked by an FCC commissioner whether they’ve stopped selling their customers’ real-time location data, as they had promised to do.

Published reports in recent months indicated that the locations of Americans were being sold without their permission of even knowledge.

Military bans personnel from using location-tracking tech


Significant Locations
This information shouldn't fall into the hands of enemies.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Whether it’s our phones, our fitness trackers, or even something as innocuous as a dating app, much of the technology we use on a regular basis tracks our physical location.

Knowing the potential security risk this poses, the Pentagon banned deployed military personnel from using tech with active location-tracking features.

Your Google apps might snitch if you’re near a crime scene


Google Maps Feb 18 update
Google location data is being used by investigators, apparently.
Photo: Google

If you find yourself within the immediate radius of a crime that’s committed, you could find your personal data seized by police, with a helping hand from Google.

That’s the takeaway from a recent report about how Raleigh police have presented Google with broad search warrants, requesting user data from all mobile devices with a certain vicinity of particular crimes. In one case, Google was reportedly asked for unique data for all homes and businesses within a 17-acre area of a gun-related incident.

How to disable location suggestions in macOS Sierra


Location Based Suggestions
Here's what to do if you don't want localized suggestions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Much like Google offers personalized searching, macOS Sierra delivers location-based tips as part of its suggestions within Spotlight, Siri, Safari and Maps. That means Apple will try to recommend relevant services within your immediate vicinity.

If you don’t want this feature, however, there is a way to get rid of it. Check out our guide below to show how to do this — and how to turn it back on again if you change your mind.

Panic button app could save your life — or go terribly wrong


witness-iphone-app - 1
WItness gets you help from your own emergency contacts when you need it most.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

If you’re afraid of ever being in a dangerous situation without any witnesses or good samaritans nearby, you might want to consider downloading this new app appropriately named Witness. Calling itself the ‘panic button for the smartphone age,’ one tap broadcasts live video and your current location to a list of preset emergency contacts, who can then decide if it’s appropriate to take action.

Of course, if they do nothing, they could potentially have front-row seats to a very morbid and disturbing show.

Your location has been shared more than 5,000 times in the last two weeks


How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Smartphone users know that sharing personal data with apps can be part of the price of free apps, but when it comes to how frequently those apps give that data to third parties, the numbers will shock you.

A new study by Carnegie Mellon found that some smartphone users’ data is shared more than 5,000 times with third parties in a two-week period. Most people are totally clueless this is happening, but the study found that when people learn how much frequently data is being shared, they act rapidly to shut down the spread of personal info.