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Location Services on iPhone: Full Guide


Jul 12, 2024 • Filed to: Virtual Location Solutions • Proven solutions

person using location services on iphone

Location services on iPhones aren’t typically something that many people consider. It’s just something you automatically enable the first time you boot your device, and then you never think about it again. However, there’s much more to location services than meets the eye.

There are countless ways to customize them, improve how you manage the data they collect, and get more use out of them.

Explore this thorough guide to iPhone location services and learn how to make the most out of them.

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Part 1. What Are Location Services on iPhone?

This feature allows your device (and the apps that come with it) to track where you’re located at any given moment.

Some apps will activate these services in the background to give you continual access to their features, such as sharing your location information with friends or family. Others will use them in the foreground, giving you access to features that wouldn’t otherwise be functional, such as determining the closest route to a destination you’re going to.

Whatever the case, location services will use data from GPS, Bluetooth, cellular towers, and WiFi hotspots to assess your current location.

Part 2. Main Functions of Location Services on iPhone

location services on iphone

Though it often doesn’t seem like it, location services have many functions and capabilities. The main ones include:

  • Improving local search results;
  • Assessing traffic conditions;
  • Providing accurate weather forecasts;
  • Determining travel routes;
  • Offering accurate navigation;
  • Using Find My;
  • Automatically adjusting Date & Time;
  • Playing location-based games;
  • Recommending events;
  • Sharing location with friends and family;
  • Receiving alerts;
  • Receiving proximity-based notifications;
  • Making transactions using your device.

These are just some examples of what location services on iPhone are mainly used for. Depending on the apps you have and what you’re using your device for, the functions and capabilities of these services can significantly expand.

Part 3. Location and Privacy on iPhone

Though location services can be pretty useful, especially if you’ve lost your device and need to use Find My iPhone's last location, there’s no denying that this can all raise privacy concerns. What apps are tracking your location? Why? Is it necessary?

In a nutshell, most apps will require your location for a specific function, such as the ones mentioned above. However, many apps don’t need this data and are just collecting it for marketing purposes, for instance.

That’s why Apple allows you to customize your location and privacy settings with the utmost ease.

Primarily, you can fully customize which apps can use your location and when. You can choose between:

  • Never
  • Ask Next Time or When I Share
  • While Using the App
  • Always

For instance, for Find My app, you’ll want to choose “Always”, since you’ll need this option turned on if you ever misplace your device. However, if you’re using a third-party photo editing app, there’s usually no reason for it to track your location, so here, you could choose “Never”.

In addition to allowing you to customize which apps can use your location, Apple also keeps you notified of when they’re doing so by using icons of a specific color.

A hollow arrow, for instance, means that the app in question will receive your location information only under certain circumstances. A purple arrow indicates that an app has recently used your location, while a gray arrow shows that the app’s used your location in the last 24 hours.

Part 4. Examples of iPhone Apps That Use Location Services

apps using location services

Now that you understand what iPhone’s location services are, their main functions, as well as how they affect your privacy, it’s time to look into some of the apps that will use these services regularly:

  • iOS – necessary for some built-in features;
  • Find My– necessary for locating a lost device;
  • HomeKit/Apple Home– necessary for turning home accessories on/off when you enter/leave your home;
  • Maps– necessary for navigation, traffic notifications, and routes;
  • Motion calibration/distance apps– necessary for tracking fitness activities;
  • Date & Time– necessary for automatically adjusting date and time settings based on your current time zone;
  • Games like Pokemon Go– necessary for location-based games that require you to move about your neighborhood;
  • Social media– necessary for tagging your location in posts;
  • Apple Pay– necessary for improving the accuracy of business names;
  • Ride-sharing apps– necessary for determining pick-up points;
  • Weather apps– necessary for improving forecast accuracy;
  • Dating apps– necessary for recommending matches based on location.

As a general rule of thumb, allowing built-in Apple apps to track your location is safe, as it’s mostly done to improve features and services. However, be careful which third-party apps you allow to access your location data, as they are much more likely to misuse this information.

Part 5. How to Turn On/Off Location Services on iPhone

Though the easiest thing you could do is turn on your location services as soon as you boot up your new phone and then allow all apps to use it freely, you’ll want to be careful.

After all, not every app needs this information, and not every app will keep it safe. So, there’s no need to keep your location services on at all times or allow all apps to use it.

To better manage your location services and turn them off or on as needed, you just need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy & Security;
  2. Go to Location Services;
  3. Toggle the slider by Location Services ONor OFF.

toggle the slider on or off

If you scroll down after this, you’ll see the list of apps you have and which ones are using your location. By tapping on any of them, you can adjust if and when each of them can access your location data.

Part 6. How to Change iPhone Location Without Actually Moving

Although many apps require your location information to work correctly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need your actual, precise location. For instance, a motion calibration/distance app can work just as well when tracking precisely which streets you’re jogging through or when it’s just tracking your movements through a fake route.

Moreover, faking your location on a dating app could increase your dating pool. Doing that on social media could give you a few extra internet fame points. Faking the location is perhaps the most beneficial when playing location-based games, allowing you to access more resource-rich in-game areas without having to spend thousands on traveling there.

Of course, if you’re to change the location on your iPhone without actually moving, you need the right app for it, and Wondershare Dr.Fone might just be what you need.

It’s a comprehensive iPhone location changer app with dozens of useful features. With a single click, you can teleport your GPS location anywhere across the world. Draw unique routes in maps and simulate movement through them, going so far as to adjust your “travel” speed precisely. Use virtual joystick controls to “move about” an area and easily create one-stop or multi-stop routes.

Compatible with all location-based apps, including Snapchat, Pokemon Go, Instagram, and more, Dr.Fone is the perfect solution for faking your GPS coordinates.

It takes just a few steps to set things up and get started:

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  1. Download Wondershare Dr.Fone to your computer and use a USB cable to connect your iPhone;
  2. Launch the app and go to Toolbox > Virtual Location > Get Started;
  3. On the default map that opens, click No Deviceand select your iPhone;

connect your iphone to dr.fone

  1. Click Nextand wait for your device to connect;
  2. On your phone, go to Settings > Privacy & Security;
  3. Toggle the slider next to Developer Mode ON;

turn on developer mode on your iphone

  1. Restart your phone, unlock it when it boots up, and tap the Turn Onbutton that appears;
  2. When your phone is connected, you can go to Manage Deviceand start adjusting your location.

Whether you want to increase your privacy or simply get more use out of apps that ask for your location, you can rely on Wondershare Dr.Fone.

With its 7-day money-back guarantee, you can test this app for virtual iPhone location free and see just how helpful it can be.


While most don’t even think about the location services on the iPhone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should just turn them on and forget about them.

If you want to protect your privacy, you’ll need to carefully consider which apps should have access to your location, customize your privacy settings, and rely on Wondershare Dr.Fone any time you want to change your GPS location without moving.

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You cannot manually change the location of your device under Find My iPhone. As long as your location services are turned on, the location of your device will get automatically updated.
Yes, and one of the best apps for changing your location is Wondershare Dr.Fone. It allows you to change your GPS information, customize routes, simulate movement, adjust your “movement” speed, and more.
Yes, you can always disable your location services by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. Then, toggle the slider by Location Services to its OFF position.

Daisy Raines

staff Editor

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