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Your iPhone is tracking your movements and storing your favorite locations all the time

It comes as a surprise to many to discover that their iPhone is collecting a detailed history of places you visit on a regular basis. Here’s how you can find out what information your iPhone has on you, along with ways you can take control of it, or even delete it completely.

See also : iOS 11.4 tip: How to enable Messages in iCloud (and why you might want to keep this feature turned off)

The feature – which is called Significant Locations – is described by Apple as follows:

Allows your iPhone to earn places significant to you in order to provide useful location-related information in Maps, Calendar, Photos, and more. Significant Locations are encrypted and cannot be read by Apple.

Now, as is typical of many things in iOS, Significant Locations are not easy to find, and is unlikely to be something that you come across by accident.

This feature is buried all the down in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations. In order to gain access to this data you will need to authenticate yourself using the iPhone’s passcode, or using Touch ID or Face ID.

​Significant Locations

Significant Locations

​Accessing Significant Locations requires a passcode, or Touch ID/Face ID authentication

Accessing Significant Locations requires a passcode, or Touch ID/Face ID authentication

Once you’re in Significant Locations screen, you will be greeted with a list of places you have visited, which is then further broken down into more detailed locations, along with dates you were there. Tapping on any of the entries brings up a map showing the precise location, along with the times that you were at that location.

​A list of locations stored in Significant Locations

A list of locations stored in Significant Locations

Now, you may be like me and not care about this data being collected, and might even find it a useful record of where you’ve been over the previous weeks and months. But if you’re uncomfortable for any reason with this data being collected, then Apple offers several ways you can take control over it.

First off, you can turn this feature off completely by toggling the switch in the Significant Locations page in Settings. This prevents new data being collected, but it’s important to note that it does not delete data already collected and stored.

​Disable Significant Locations

Disable Significant Locations

To delete the data already collected you have two options:

  • Selectively delete the data by going into each entry, tapping Edit in the top-right of the screen, and removing the entries one at a time
  • Bulk deleting the data scrolling to the bottom of the listing on the Significant Locations page and tapping Clear History

Now that you know about this feature, what it does, and how to control it, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to controlling what data it stores about your movements.

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I'm a 50 year old PLC programmer from Burnley, UK. I severed my time as an electrician in the baking industry and soon got involved with the up and coming technology of PLC's. Initially this was all based in the Uk but as the years went by I have gradually worked my way around the globe. At first it was mainly Mitsubishi with a bit of Modicon thrown in but these days the industry leaders seem to be the Allen Bradley range of PLC and HMI’s.

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