Has your iPhone, iPad or Android ever surprised you by informing you that you’re a 10-minute drive from home? Find out how it knows this and how you can make it forget.
Over the last couple of years, Google and Apple have both introduced features that can determine where you live and work, among other things. At some point in time you would have opted into these features, possibly by rushing past a checkbox to see any goodies the new version of iOS or Android offered
The way your device determines where you live and work is by looking at your GPS information over a few days and making some educated guesses. For example, if you sleep somewhere every night, you probably live there. And if you leave this location and go somewhere for eight hours each weekday, this is probably where you work. These services can make some more guesses about favourite restaurants and other locations you visit as well.
Apple stores all of this information on your device, whereas Google stores it all in the cloud. The purpose of this is harmless enough (on the surface anyway): your smartphone or tablet will know where you’re going based on the day of the week and the time of day, so if you open up your smartphone as you hop in the car, it’ll instantly be able to tell you what the traffic is like, and possibly show you a quicker route.
As always, this convenience comes at a cost. If someone was to gain access to your iPhone or iPad, or to your Google data, they could quite accurately find out where you will be at any given time. If you don’t want Apple or Google knowing this much about you, or you’re worried about the data falling into the wrong hands, you can disable these ‘services’.
iPhone and iPad
On Apple devices this feature is called ‘Frequent Locations’, and it can be accessed by opening Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Now scroll down and tap System Services, located near the bottom, and then tap Frequent Locations, again located near the bottom. On this screen you will be able to see Apple’s list of locations you frequent, and you can deactivate the service by tapping the slider next to Frequent Locations to the off position.
On Android devices, this feature is called Google Now, and it attempts to pull together information from other services such as your email and calendar. To turn off Google Now, open up the Google Settings app on your device (this is not the same as the regular settings app you have; you will find it with other apps you have installed). Once you have found and opened the app, tap Search and Now > Now Cards. Then tap the slider next to Show Cards to the off position.