Lots of smartphone apps gather location data to help point you in the direction of nearby attractions, landmarks and restaurants – or to give you offers and promotions based on where you are. The mobile network also needs to monitor the location of your phone in order to connect it with calls, texts and data.
Location data icons
When your phone is gathering location data, you'll see an icon in the status bar:
- iPhones: a purple arrow
- Android phones: a white circle with a cross-hair
- Windows phones: a circle with a dot in the centre
- BlackBerry phones: a cross-hair
Using location data to find your phone
If you lose your phone, the location data can help to find it. You can download apps like Find My iPhone that let you track your phone's location online, with options to remotely lock it, make it sound an alarm or erase all of the data.
Apps like Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare let you check in to locations. This will tell other users where you are. You may want to change your privacy settings so that it only tells your friends, rather than letting everyone see it as a public post.
How to turn location data off
You can switch off location data in your Settings menu. For some apps, location data options may be in the Privacy section.
Network Location information
So that the O2 network can deliver data, calls and texts to your phone, it has to know where your mobile is and which masts it' is connected to.
Telefónica Dynamic Insights is part of O2's parent company Telefónica. Its product Smart Steps uses anonymous location data generated by the network to help companies and public sector organisations estimate the number of people visiting a particular area. This information is aggregated – which means it is only provided on a group level, showing the movement of crowds and not individuals. For example, this aggregated and anonymous information helps retailers determine the best locations for new stores or a council where best to have its bus routes.
For More help
- For iPhones, visit the Apple Support Community and iTunes store
- For Android, search Google Play for "find my phone" apps
- For Windows phones, Microsoft has a Finding a Lost Phone section
- For BlackBerry, visit BlackBerry App World
- BBC Webwise offers more info on location services
If you're not sure about any techy terms, check out our jargon buster
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