Disable tracking settings on phone: How your phone's operating system buries ad, tracking settings

Android & iOS device tips and tricks

Odds are that you are reading a smartphone screen right now, or at least have a smartphone nearby. The devices are ever-present, which makes them a huge potential source of information about you.

On phones running Google's Android software or Apple iPhones, the privacy options are buried under several menus. One setting can limit how ads are targeted in the apps you use. Another setting controls the ways your location is tracked throughout the day.

Location settings are particularly confusing because Global Positioning Satellites, cellphone towers and WiFi Internet networks can all be used to determine your location. Adding to the complication on Android phones, the GPS and cell or WiFi tracking are turned off with separate switches.

For iOS user and 23ABCNEWS reporter Tim Calahan, the two kinds of location tracking was a surprise. He had turned the GPS tracking off to protect his privacy, but still found his phone offering information based on his location -- like how long his commute home would take.

Google logs locations reported by an Android phone throughout the day and plots them on a map. Apple does the same for iPhones.

For Calahan, the revelation of that map revealed his phone had sent a complete record of his travels through Bakersfield based on WiFi signals that connected to his phone along the way.

"Based on the signal strength of your cellphone and the different tower, your cellphone is able to see where you are down to a couple of feet," explains Steve Beaty, security engineer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The data collected about Calahan through his iOS phone gave Apple enough information to accurately determine where he lives and works.

Knowing your current and frequent locations allows phone software companies to make suggestions about nearby activities or advertisers to tailor the content fighting for your dollars.

Apple's iOS software calls their equivalent service "Frequent Locations," which can be found within a submenu of the "Location Services" settings.

But physical location isn't the only way your activities are being tracked.

Google, for example, can analyze the content within the email messages in a customer's Gmail inbox or on a customer's calendar. That data influences the customized results the company serves up on search results or their Google Now app, which offers pieces of current information, based on the information Google knows about you.

As a result, a customer can ask, "When is my flight?"

And get the answer specific to the ticket receipt sitting in their inbox.

The Siri personal assistant on iPhones and iPads works in a similar way.

 to change these settings on your own smartphone? Check out the step-by-step instructions and video tutorials below.


FOR ANDROID USERS:

 

 

--Go to Apps

--Find Settings tab

--Scroll to Personal and find an option titled "Location access" or "Location and security"

--Find "Google Wi-Fi & mobile network location" or "Use wireless networks" and uncheck the option to disable 

FOR iOS USERS:

--Go to Settings

 

--Search for Privacy

--Go to Location Services and turn off the function (Warning: this may limit the functions for some of your apps, like Google Maps, etc.)

--If it is on, you can go to System Services to customize how you're being tracked and by which apps

--From System Services you can go to "Frequent Locations" to see how your iPhone may be "following" you to work, home, etc.

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