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iOS 11 gives users tighter control over when apps can use their location

Apple is giving users the option to enable much stricter location rules with iOS 11, according to MacRumors. The company began this effort last year by adding a new option to iOS 10 that grants apps access to your location only while they’re actively being used. But this “while in use” setting is up to developers to actually enable.

The vast majority of popular apps did integrate that new feature. Others, however — Uber chief among them — still force iPhone users to choose between always or never providing location data. The latter choice breaks the functionality of an app like Uber, leaving customers with really only one option. Apple seems poised to eliminate this false choice in iOS 11 by making the “while in use” restriction available for every app.

Uber tracks a user’s location “from the time of trip request through five minutes after the trip ends, including when the app is in the background.” The company reasons that this is necessary to provide optimal accuracy and customer service. Users weren’t thrilled about the frequent tracking, especially after it was discovered that the app was sometimes requesting location data long after a ride had ended; the company eventually claimed this was due to the optional extension that lets users hail a ride with Apple’s default Maps app.

In April, The New York Times reported on a tense conversation between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Uber’s Travis Kalanick, during which Cook scolded the chief executive and threatened to remove Uber from the App Store for violating Apple’s developer guidelines. That dustup was eventually settled, but Apple’s tightening of location access can easily be read as a reaction to Uber’s tactics.

Other iOS apps on my iPad that make users choose between “always” and “never” for location:

  • Dominos
  • Uber
  • Waze
  • Weather (built-in iOS app)

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