What is that arrow? | What the Tech?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (WHAT THE TECH?) — When you look at your smartphone, you may not notice if an app is tracking your every move but there is a tiny icon to watch for.

There is an arrow that is almost always on your screen. It’s on the status bar right next to the time on an iPhone.

What is it and what does it mean?

The arrow represents an app that’s currently tracking your location. If it’s on the screen, an app on your phone knows where you are and where you’re going.

Some apps require a location to be functional, such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, weather apps – and apps to help you find gas or restaurants.

Some apps have no business knowing but some do anyway.

In Settings, go to “Privacy and Security,” then “Location Services” to see which apps track your location.

  • A purple arrow means that the app has recently tracked your location
  • A gray arrow means your location was tracked by the app within the last 24 hours

The camera app, for example, sees your location every time you take a photo. A radio station app, though? Pinterest? The news app Flipboard? Maybe not.

Here, you can change which apps have access to your location. Change the settings from “always,” to “never,” or “while using the app.”

A good idea to change some to ask next time or whenever you share.

System services on iPhones and Android devices require your location for things like “Find My”, “emergency calls”, automatically changing time zones, and most importantly, connecting from the nearest cell tower.

Others, you may want to say, stop following me.

Many apps not only track your location but share it with other companies. Mostly, apps will work just fine without seeing where you are.

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