How to Turn On Location Services on iPhone or Android

Knowing where you are helps many apps do their jobs

What to Know

  • iPhone: Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and move the switch next to Location Services to the On position.
  • Android: Tap Settings > Location and move the slider to On.

Here's how to turn on Location Services on iPhone (iOS 8 and up) and Android devices (most versions). It includes information on apps that request the use of location services.

How to Turn On Location Services on iPhone

You'll find Location Services in your iPhone's Settings:

  1. Tap Settings > Privacy.

  2. Tap Location Services.

  3. Move the Location Services slider to on/green. Location Services are now on. Apps that need them can start accessing your location right away.

    iPhone Location Services toggle

How to Turn On Location Services on Android

Location Services are turned on during the setup of your Android device, but you can also turn them on later by doing this:

  1. Tap Settings > Location.

  2. Move the slider to On.

    Android Location Services

About Location Services

Location Services is the name for a set of features that determine the location (or the location of your phone, at least) and then provide content based on that. Google Maps, Find My iPhone, Yelp, and many more apps use your phone's location to tell you where to drive, where your lost or stolen phone is, or where you can find restaurants within a quarter-mile.

Location Services works by tapping into your phone's hardware and data on the internet. The backbone of Location Services is usually GPS, which is usually accurate and available. To get better information about where you are, Location Services also uses data from cellular phone networks, nearby Wi-Fi networks, and Bluetooth devices to pinpoint where you are.

Combine GPS and network data with crowd-sourced data and extensive mapping technology from Apple and Google, and you have a powerful way to figure out what street you're on, what store you're near, and more. Some smartphones add a compass or gyroscope that determines what direction you're facing and how you're moving. 

What to Do When Apps Ask to Access Location Services

Apps that use Location Services might ask for permission to access your location the first time you launch them. When making this choice, ask if it makes sense for the app to use your location.

iPhone location tracking alert

Apple Inc.

Your phone might also occasionally ask if you want to keep letting an app use your location. It's a privacy feature to make sure you're aware of what data apps are accessing.

Apple's privacy options for this feature are more robust than Android's. The pop-up window lets you choose to allow the app to access your location at all times, only when you use the app, or never. It also shows where the app has tracked you to understand better what the tracking means.

If you decide to turn it off or wish to prevent some apps from using that information, you can turn off location services on your iPhone or Android.

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