How To: Disable or Reset Location Services for iPhone 2.0

iPhone 2.0 Geo Tagging!

Thanks to CoreLocation in the iPhone SDK, Apps can make use of WiFi, Cell, and A-GPS (for the iPhone 3G) information to keep track of where you are. Your Twitter feed can be tagged with your current location, or can show you just those contacts in a certain vicinity. A movie app can automatically fetch show times for all the theaters in a certain radius. A to-do app can pop up location-based (rather than just time-based) alerts, reminding you to help your mom change a lightbulb next time you're there, or ping you when you pass the electronics store so you remember to pick up that cable you need.

Convenient? You bet. Powerful? A game changer. Invasive? Er... Could certainly be.

What if you don't always want whereabouts broadcast, if you don't want everyone to know (or potentially be able to find out) where you are, when you're out shopping, where that picture of your child was taken?

Read on to find out how apps ask for permission to use your location, how you can change your mind and make them ask you again, or how you can turn off location services completely.

Apple enforces a policy that requires apps to pop up a requester asking your permission several times before defaulting to location aware status. In my tests, every newly downloaded app will ask for permission until it's agreed to twice. So, if you say "Okay" twice in a row, it will stop asking and begin using your location. However -- and unfortunately -- the same doesn't hold true for "Don't Allow". Using Apple's Camera and App Store apps, I said "Don't Allow" ten times in a row and it kept asking. Then said "Okay", "Don't Allow", and "Okay" again, and on the second "Okay" it stopped asking.

While Apple should, of course, allow users to just as easily default to a non-location aware state through some combination of repeated denials over time, they have baked in a couple of options for the privacy and security minded of us.

To disable Location Services completely, tap Settings, tap General, and then slide the Location Services switch to the "off" position. (You can always turn them back on when/if you want to use them later.)

To force apps to ask your permission again before using your location, scroll to the bottom of the General Settings, tap Reset, then tap Reset Location Settings. Next time you fire up Camera, Maps, or Apps like Twitterrific, Showtime, etc. they'll ask you again if they can use your current location, and you can agree or decline on a per-App basis.

And voila: control restored!

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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How To: Disable or Reset Location Services for iPhone 2.0

22 Comments

Isn't this the point of twitter. I never got it in the first place - but isn't highlighting your every move (or movement) for the world to see kind of an admission you don't really value your privacy?
I'm surprised that anyone with the thoughtfulness to worry about location services actually uses twitter. Both seem pretty creepy to me.

@Michael: I use Twitter, but I purposely never use it or any status microblog (Facebook, Pownce, Jaiku, etc.) to project my location. I consider that bad from both a privacy and a security point of view. I don't need someone knowing when I leave my house so they can rob it, or my precise geographic location so they can approach me announced (my real friends know where I am absent web status).
However, I spent many years informing myself about personal protection, so that's colored my thinking a lot.
What I do use Twitter for is to share information about what's happening in the industries in which I'm involved, and to network in general.
Call me MiniScoble :)

Rene! Loved this... very important and helpful. May be the most helpful yet (as I freak out about my privacy in regards to strangers being able to find me on the street and link me to whatever app I am using ex. Twitter.) Thank you!!!

By turning off location settings, will this prevent my iphone 3g from being tracked and my text msgs?

When I go to location settings, it is not highlighted so I can turn it on. Right now it is turned off and it will not let me turn it back on. Please help. Thank you.

I have the same problem...did you find a fix? It is not even lit up for me to swipe it to on it has always been off (location services)

I HAD THE SAME PROBLEM. I HAD MY RESPTRICTIONS TURNED ON. IN SETTING GO TO RESTRICTIONS. ENTER YOUR PASSWORD. GO TO LOCATION AND TURN IT ON TO ALLOW CHANGES. YOU SHOULD NOW BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO LOCATION SERVICES AND IT WILL WORK CORRECTLY

what if you can't remember your restrictions password? is that password something that you create yourself?

"While Apple should, of course, allow users to just as easily default to a non-location aware state through some combination of repeated denials over time"
AMEN!

I have been trying to change default pic of my location on my email account. i noticed that when i send emails from my iphone there is a little picture showing a map of my location in the upper right hand corner of every email i send. sort of like an account ID picture location type thing but the thing is, i never picked out this picture or was asked. i need to change is ASAP as it looks really unprofessional and more importantly dont want my address attached to every email i send. I have tried and i can't figure out how to remove this. any ideas? thanks!

I am having excessive battery discharge. How do I turn off location services, it is on and I can't turn it off. Have done a reset but still not operable. At the moment my battery is only lasting a few hours. Anyone having same problems? Thanks

I am having trouble accessing my Location Services, it appears to be greyed out and I cannot change any of my settings which means that I can't use Maps. Help!

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE UR RESTRICTIONS ON. GO TO SETTINGS, GENERAL, RESTRICTIONS. IF SAYS THEY R ON. ENTER YOUR PASSWORD GO TO LOCATION TO ALLOW CHANGES THEN GO BACK TO LACATION SERVICES AND U SHOULD BE ABLE TO NOW TURN IT OFF OR ON

How do I reset my iphone so that it really does use my current location? I have recently moved and it keeps showing my current location at my old address on maps which is really frustrating! Have tried resetting phone, and looking at the settings in location services but there isn't a specific reset in here? Arrgghh!

Hi all. I need some help regarding 'Location Services'. When I turn it off my chat app says it does not have any net connection. How can this be when It used to work before, when i switched off my 'loaction services'. But all of a sudden, it has no connection when the 'location services' is switched off?

I am having the same location services issue but I do not know my restrictions passcode as I purchased the phone from a friend and they have no clue what it is...Can anyone help?

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