How to Protect Your Privacy on Your iPhone

iPhones can track you anywhere you go | © StockSnap/Pixabay
iPhones can track you anywhere you go | © StockSnap/Pixabay
Photo of Peter Ward
Tech Editor10 January 2018

We all love our smartphones. But many of us don’t appreciate the way they can track our every step. If privacy is a concern when you’re using technology, read on to find out how to make your iPhone a little less likely to spy on you.

Your iPhone is tracking your location pretty much all the time, but there are a few things you can do to stop it. Many of these involve location-based services that you may not know are running in the background.

Location, location, location

The Frequent Locations feature saves your most often visited places, so Apple can track traffic in those areas and give updates on travel times. Like most of these features, they’re designed to make your life easier, but actually end up tracking your whereabouts. You can turn this feature off by going to Settings, Privacy, Location Services, System Services, Frequent Locations.

There are three more location-based features that you may want to disable if you don’t want Apple knowing where you are and where you’ve been. These are Location-Based Alerts, which give you notifications based on where you are, Location-Based Apple Ads, which is fairly self-explanatory, and Location-Based Suggestions, which suggests apps that you might want to install on your phone based on where you are in the world. To halt any of these features, go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services, System Services and select the ones you want to disable.

Finally, there’s also the Find My Friends feature, which aims to help you keep track of the people you care about. When you have this enabled, your friends and family can also track you. To turn this off, select Settings, Privacy, Share My Location.

Location-based services collect a lot of data | © Pexels/Pixabay

Annoying advertising

There are several other features that don’t involve locations which you can turn off to stop Apple knowing every little detail about you. Apple collects information from your iPhone in order to serve up relevant ads on your phone. A lot of people are uncomfortable with their data and habits being tracked and used this way. To deactivate this, go to Settings, Privacy, Advertising and enable the Limit Ad Tracking switch.

That will halt Apple and the iOS tracking your data for the purpose of serving you ads, but it’ll still happen on your browser. Safari will enable all types of companies to track your usage, and to turn that off you just need to go to Settings, Safari, then enable the Do Not Track option.

Deleting the archives

Did you know your iPhone saves your deleted photos for 30 days? Most people do not, but if they did they might have a problem with it. Deleting a sensitive image should mean it’s gone forever, but in fact it ends up in your Recently Deleted folder. To make sure a photo is gone for good, delete it in the camera roll, then head to the Recently Deleted folder on your Albums tab, and delete it there too.

And you might have a similar problem with messages. The default setting on iOS 10 is to save your text messages indefinitely. That’s a long time for something potentially sensitive to be in existence, so if you value your privacy, you may want to head to Settings, Messages, Keep Messages and change the setting to 30 days or even one year.