iOS 9 privacy settings you should change immediately

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Date: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015, 10:52
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

iOS-9-manage-locationWhether you just purchased a new iPhone or you selected “set up as new phone” while restoring you’ve essentially got a clean or “new” iOS install, just as Apple intended.

In its default configuration iOS 9 will share your device’s location and other data when you might not want it to. Luckily it’s easy to turn off may settings that control the flow of your personal information on the Internet.

Here’s our list of the most important iOS 9 privacy settings that you should check right now, especially if you are using a new or restored device.

[1] Turn on Limit Ad Tracking
To turn on Limit Ad Tracking on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising.
Turn on Limit Ad Tracking.

When you enable Limit Ad Tracking on iOS, third party apps are forbidden to use the Advertising Identifier, by contract.


While you’re there, Click on Reset Advertising Identifier too.

The Advertising Identifier (a.k.a. IDFA or “identifier for advertisers”) replaced the UDID in iOS 6 because it doesn’t contain any device information and it isn’t permanent. Resetting the IDFA is similar to clearing cookies in your web browser.


[2] Turn off location-based ads

To turn off location-based ads on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
Turn off Location-Based iAds.


Opting out of location-based iAds only applies to Apple advertising services and does not affect interest-based advertising from other advertising networks.

You can also limit ad tracking and opt out of interest-based ads from iAd on your desktop Mac and Apple TV by following the instructions in this Apple knowledgeable article or by going to if you forget.


[3] Turn off Frequent Locations
Positioned by Apple as “Allow your iPhone to learn places that you frequently visit in order to provide useful location-related information,” I don’t see the value in this, so I turn it off.

Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services
Turn off Frequent Locations



[4] Turn off location sharing
Settings > Privacy > Location Services
Turn of Share my location


If you have Family Sharing enabled on your iCloud account, check the users listed in the Family section of the Share My Locations screen and change each member’s access appropriately.


[5] Turn on the Status Bar Icon for Location Services

Located all the way down at the bottom of the Privacy > Location Services screen are iOS’ System Services settings. If you’ve owned your iPhone for more than a few months you’ll have dozens (possibly hundreds) of apps listed on this screen, making it a very long scroll.

At the bottom of the list you’ll find the fabled System Services settings, click through for explanation of what that little purple arrow icons means. Turn on the Location Services status bar icon, learn what the icon means and pay attention when it appears in your status bar.

Turn on the Status Bar Icon

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services
Turn on Status Bar Icon.



[6] Turn off uploading Diagnostic & Usage data

Apple enables diagnostic and usage data upload by default on iOS. Although the data is anonymized, I prefer not to upload my iPhone’s usage information to Apple. Popular Near Me uses your device’s location to display apps that are popular in your geographic location. I don’t use this feature, so I disable it.

Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services
Turn off Diagnostic & Usage
Turn off Popular Near Me too



[7] Dictation & Siri

Dictation is arguably one of the most useful features in iOS. If you press the microphone icon on the keyboard, your spoken words are transcribed conveniently into text. The problem with dictation is that processing is done in the cloud. This means that a recording of your words is uploaded to iCloud, where it is processed and the results are downloaded to your device.

If you’re privacy conscious you should read the information on Dictation on the Apple Privacy website. It says: “certain User Data such as your name, contacts, and songs in your music library is sent to Apple servers using encrypted protocols. That said, Siri and Dictation do not associate this information with your Apple ID, but rather with your device through a random identifier.”

I accept the privacy trade-off the comes with iOS 9’s dictation feature, but you can turn it off if you’re not comfortable uploading this information to Apple servers.


According to Apple “Siri uses your location for answering questions and offering suggestions about what’s nearby.” While this is another potential privacy exposure, I choose to accept the risk because there’s value in location-based results from Siri (when asking about the weather, for example).

You can turn off Location Services for Siri and Dictation in Privacy > Location Services > Siri & Dictation if you’re not comfortable with this value proposition.

That’s all for now.

In my next installment I’ll cover how to tweak the privacy settings on iOS 9’s bundled apps, like Safari.


If you found this article helpful, please remember to relay the information to family and friends and to share it on your favorite social networks. 


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