You’ve probably noticed upon installing a new app that Location Services must often be turned on for the app to function optimally. Most of us mindlessly accept the terms and conditions without really reading them. You might not even know what Location Services entails and how using it affects your phone’s performance.

Here’s what Location Services on your cellphone is, and how it works:

What is Location Services?

Location Services utilises local cellular, cell tower location data, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to accurately determine the location of a mobile device and, by implication, the location of the user that the mobile device belongs to.

Location Services is used in many ways to enhance the functioning of apps on a mobile device. Navigation apps use it in route planning and navigation. Social media apps use it to tag the location of posts. Dating apps use it to find other users in your vicinity. Weather apps use it to provide accurate weather forecasts based on your location, and apps like Uber or Yelp use it to determine a pick-up location, or suggest businesses based on your location.

The cons

Location Services can run in the background, or only when you specify an app should use it, depending on your preferences. If Location Services is always on, it has a tendency to drain your battery quicker than usual.

Also, you might not feel comfortable that certain apps are tracking your movements or storing location information on you. Having Location Services enabled when you post online might also give criminals information on your whereabouts that you might not want to share, for instance, telling them when you’re not at home.

The pros

In the event that you lose your phone or it gets stolen, location services could be an invaluable tool in locating it again. Services like Apple’s Find My iPhone and Device Manager on Android help you to locate it only if Location Services is enabled. Also, in an emergency, having Location Services enabled might help emergency services to pinpoint your location. Certain apps, like navigation or weather apps are utterly useless without enabling Location Services.

How to enable or disable Location Services

To enable on an Android device:
Go to Settings > Location, look for all the options called Location, Location Services and Location Reporting (depending on what Android device you are using), and make sure they are all selected. Choose the relevant accuracy setting (pick one that includes mobile networks, Wi-Fi and GPS)

• To disable on an Android device:
Open App Drawer > Settings > Location > Google Location Settings, and then Location Reporting and Location History. Use the slider to turn each one off.

• To enable or disable on an iPhone:
Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Settings for each app can be toggled separately from here, or you can turn Location Settings completely on or off.

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