How to Turn Off Tracking on iPhone and Android for Enhanced Privacy

how to stop tracking on iphone

If you are concerned about privacy, learning how to turn off tracking on iPhone and Android is a practical step. This guide offers straightforward instructions for both iPhone and Android devices, enabling you to confidently manage your privacy settings.

Navigating iPhone Privacy Settings (iOS Operating System)

As an iOS user, you may take for granted how much data your devices gather. From your location to your browsing habits, your devices are constantly collecting data. While this data can enhance user experience, it also raises privacy concerns. However, you have the power to manage the data your device collects and shares by modifying your privacy settings.

Disable Location Services for Specific Apps

Smartphones today are often more than just communication devices; they are navigators, weather forecasters, and delivery trackers. While these features are convenient, they also pose privacy concerns.

Location information, especially granular location data, can be a key element in creating a unique device fingerprint, allowing apps to track your movements through location sharing and location tracking. You might not be aware that it is possible to manage which apps have access to your location data on your iOS device.

You can achieve this by following the steps below:

  1. Proceed to Settings
  2. Choose Privacy and Security
  3. Select Location Services
  4. In this menu, you will find a list of apps
  5. Simply turn off the switch next to any app you wish to stop from tracking your location

This way, you can prevent apps from tracking your movements and effectively safeguard your privacy. But there are some nuances to keep in mind.

Disabling location services might affect the functionality of certain apps that rely on location information, such as navigation or weather apps. Besides, iOS provides more detailed control over location services. For example, you can choose to allow an app to access your location only while using the app, rather than all the time.

Limit Ad Tracking on iOS

While browsing the internet, have you ever noticed that the ads you see seem to know exactly what you have been searching for or interested in? This is because of ad tracking, a practice that allows advertisers to target users based on their online behavior. Ad tracking on your iOS device revolves around a unique identifier known as the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).

IDFA is a random device identifier that Apple assigns to iOS devices. By disabling cross-app tracking and limiting IDFA, you can restrict ad tracking and improve your privacy.

This can be done by:

  1. Navigating to Settings
  2. Choosing Privacy and Security
  3. Selecting Apple Advertising
  4. Turning off Personalized Ads

This measure will revoke tracking access, hindering them from associating your online activities with your ad ID, thereby improving your online privacy.

Review and Restrict System Services

Another tool at your disposal when it comes to enhancing privacy on your iOS operating system is the ability to review and restrict system services. This feature allows you to monitor and manage the permissions granted to various system services on your device.

System services can be reviewed by:

  1. Going to Settings
  2. Choosing Privacy and Security
  3. Selecting Location Services
  4. Accessing System Services to manage the permissions

Here, you will find a list of system services that have access to your data. It is best to keep features like Find My iPhone and Emergency Calls & SOS activated. However, some other features can drain the battery without being very useful to you. So, they can be disabled to improve battery life and privacy on your device.

Mastering Android’s Privacy Controls

how to turn off tracking on android

Android offers a variety of tools, such as managing your advertising ID and controlling app permissions, to help you maintain control over your data. Let’s have a closer look at how you can use these features to protect your privacy and enhance your overall user experience.

Delete Advertising ID on Android

Similar to iOS, Android utilizes a distinctive identifier for ad tracking, the Android Advertising Identifier (AAID). This identifier is used by advertisers to track your interests and show you relevant ads. Are you aware that it is possible to erase this advertising ID?

The process is quite straightforward:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap on Privacy
  3. Select Ads
  4. Tap on Delete advertising ID and confirm on the next page

By deleting your advertising ID, you can effectively disrupt tracking attempts made by advertisers and prevent them from creating a detailed profile of your online activity.

Manage App Permissions on Android

Another privacy control at your disposal on Android is the ability to manage app permissions. This is particularly important because apps can potentially access a wide range of data on your device, including data they have previously been granted access to.

To manage app permissions, you can follow these steps:

  1. Visit Settings > Apps
  2. Access Permissions > Permission Manager
  3. In this section, you can evaluate and adjust the permissions assigned to every app on your device

By being vigilant about app permissions, you can limit access to your personal data and maintain control over your privacy.

Utilize Android’s Privacy Dashboard

Android also offers a Privacy Dashboard, a tool that allows you to monitor and control data access by apps and services. With the Privacy Dashboard, you can view which apps have accessed certain types of data.

To view the Privacy Dashboard, go to Settings > Privacy > Privacy Dashboard. Here, you can manage permissions for various types of data, such as location, camera, contacts, and more. Utilizing the Privacy Dashboard allows you to better understand how apps use your data and make knowledgeable choices about app permissions.

The Role of VPNs in Protecting Your Mobile Data

setup vpn

Beyond device-specific settings, another powerful tool for enhancing your privacy is a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN encrypts all data transmitted to and from your web browser, effectively masking your location and IP address.

How can you select the appropriate VPN and set it up for optimal privacy? We will examine that now.

Choosing the Right VPN App

There are numerous VPN apps available, but not all are created equal. The following are important factors to consider when choosing a VPN service:

Server Siting: The location and number of servers offered by a VPN service can greatly impact the speed and accessibility of your connection. Having servers in multiple locations can also provide options for bypassing geo-restrictions.

Integrated Kill Switch: A kill switch is a crucial feature that automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection drops. This prevents your data from being exposed to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other third parties in case of VPN connection failure.

Anonymous DNS Servers: DNS (Domain Name System) servers translate domain names into IP addresses. Using anonymous DNS servers provided by the VPN service can help enhance privacy by preventing DNS leaks and hiding your browsing activity from your ISP.

No-Log Policy: A no-log policy ensures that the VPN service does not keep logs of your online activities. This is essential for maintaining privacy and anonymity, as it prevents the VPN provider from tracking or storing your browsing history, connection timestamps, IP addresses, and other sensitive information.

Highly rated VPN apps like ExpressVPN and Surfshark are good starting points. But remember to also look at user reviews and comments to gauge the app’s reputation. Furthermore, it is important to review the app’s privacy policy and encryption methods to ensure they meet your privacy needs.

Configuring VPN for Optimal Privacy

Once you have chosen a VPN app, the next step is to configure it for optimal privacy. This involves:

  • Selecting the best server location
  • Ensuring strong encryption protocols
  • Enabling a kill switch feature, which can maintain your data protection and online anonymity even if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops

Whether you are using iOS or Android, you can usually find the VPN settings under the main Settings app. Here, you can set up the VPN manually and customize the settings for optimal privacy.

Understanding the Impact of Tracking Technologies

Beyond the privacy settings on your devices and the use of VPNs, it is crucial to grasp the broader landscape of tracking technologies and tracking access. Besides device ad identifiers, common tracking technologies include cookies, pixel tags (web beacons), etc.

These technologies enable extensive data collection, profiling, and targeted advertising without users’ explicit consent, raising concerns about transparency, control, and user autonomy in the digital age. As such, you need to understand these technologies and take steps to protect your privacy online.

The Future of Tracking: Privacy Sandbox Framework

Looking ahead, Google’s Privacy Sandbox framework represents the future of tracking. The framework consists of a set of proposals and technologies aimed at eliminating reliance on cross-app identifiers by developing privacy-preserving APIs that make covert tracking ineffective.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox seeks to balance user privacy and the needs of advertisers and publishers, ultimately creating a more privacy-preserving and user-friendly web ecosystem.

In addition to providing privacy-preserving APIs, Google’s Privacy Sandbox involves ongoing collaboration with industry stakeholders to ensure widespread adoption and compatibility across different platforms and browsers.

Taking Charge of Your Digital Footprint

how to disable tracking on iphone

Managing your digital footprint involves controlling the information you share and the data collected about you online. It encompasses regular audits of installed apps and using a browser instead of apps when feasible.

Audit Installed Apps Regularly

People have a multitude of apps installed on their mobile devices, some of which they might not even utilize. These apps, whether in use or not, can potentially access a wide range of data on their devices.

Regular app audits are vital for managing your digital footprint. This involves:

  • Reviewing the permissions granted to each app and determining whether they are necessary
  • Modifying permissions if an app has more permissions than necessary for its operation
  • Removing unused apps still installed on your device

By conducting regular app audits, you can ensure that your digital footprint is secure and optimized.

Use Browser Over Apps When Possible

Another measure to manage your digital footprint is to opt for a browser over mobile apps whenever feasible. Browsers directly contact fewer trackers and advertisers compared to apps, and private browsing modes can help prevent most third-party tracking and cross-account tracking.

To enhance privacy, you can modify your default browser settings on both iOS and Android. This involves accessing the Settings app and selecting the preferred browser under default apps.

Summary

By understanding the privacy settings on our devices, utilizing VPNs, understanding the impact of tracking technologies, and taking proactive steps to manage your digital footprint, you can navigate the digital landscape with confidence. Remember, knowledge is power, and the first step toward protecting your privacy is being aware of how your data is collected and used.

FAQ

How do I control location sharing?

To control location sharing, open the Google Maps app, tap your profile picture, select Location sharing, choose the person, and tap Stop. This will stop sharing your location with them.

How do I stop sharing my location without anyone knowing?

To stop sharing your location without anyone knowing, you can either turn on Airplane Mode or turn off Location Services without notifying the person. Just avoid going to the Find My app to stop sharing your location, as this will alert the other person.

What is ad tracking?

Ad tracking involves using unique identifiers to monitor users’ online behavior and target them with personalized ads. It allows advertisers to show relevant ads based on users’ interests.

What is a VPN and how can it enhance my privacy?

A VPN encrypts your online activity, masking your location and IP address, effectively enhancing your privacy and security. Choose the right VPN and configure it properly for maximum effectiveness.

How can people search services help protect my privacy?

People search services like Nuwber can help protect your privacy by giving you the tools and options to control how your personal information is shared and displayed online.

If you find your information on a people search website, you can request its removal through an opt-out option. Thus, you can prevent your personal details from being publicly accessible.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.