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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Can I Stop Apps From Tracking Me on My Android and iPhone?

It's common knowledge that big tech companies like Facebook, Google, or Twitter are tracking you through the apps you're using on your smartphones and tablets to target you with ads. When these companies know your personal habits such as where you live, where you shop, and what you do for entertainment, it helps them personalize ads that are directly targeted to you. Fortunately, companies like Android and Apple are stepping up to the plate to help keep your information and lifestyle private. If you're looking to keep your information out of the hands of big tech, follow these steps to put an end to tracking for your Android and iPhone devices.

Both Android and Apple devices have an"ad ID" built-in them. It's Identifier for Advertising (IDFA) for iOS devices and Google Advertising ID (AAID) for Android devices. Companies who want to gather information about you can use your IDFA or AAID to track you across different apps and websites which allows them to gather your app usage habits. You have always had the ability to turn off app tracking on your smart gadgets but the release of Apple's iOS 14.5 made major headlines last month as not only did it make apps unable to track you unless you give them permission it but it also alerts you what apps are using your IDFA to scan your other apps to get information about you.

There are good reasons why some apps need to track your location. For example, your navigation apps won't work well if they aren't able to know your location. It's one thing to have one app using your IDFA, but it becomes scary when they begin using other apps to look for more information about you. You might be surprised which apps are gathering information about you. Here's a list.

Social media: You knew this already, right?

Streaming: Your favorite streaming service knows what you're watching, where you're watching it, and which family member is watching.

Deal and coupon: Yes, you can find some great deals with these apps, but they are also checking out your shopping habits to target you with ads for more stuff.

News and weather: These apps have the ability to know your location ... because you want to know the local forecast, right?

Car insurance: Are you a good driver? I hope so as that car insurance app knows your location as well as knowing how fast you drive.

Want your apps to stop tracking you? Here is how you do it!

How to prevent App tracking on an Android phone.

At the time of this writing, Android devices don't have the robust features that iOS 14.5 has as far as letting you know which apps are spying on your other apps. If you want to stop app tracking, you have to turn off location tracking entirely.

  • On a Google Pixel 4, go to Settings > Location and toggle Use location off.

  • On a Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, go to Settings > Location and toggle it off.

This turns off all location tracking, so no apps will be able to access your location, but it also means that you can’t locate your phone with 'Find My Device' if it goes missing. You also won't be able to use Google Maps or any other app that relies on on-location services.

How to prevent App tracking on iPhone.

Apple is helping you stay ahead of those apps tracking you with the release of iOS14.5 Anytime an app wants to use your IDFA, you will get a prompt asking if you want the app in question to track your activity across other apps and websites. You can confirm or deny the action. These default settings allow you to get a good idea of which apps are tracking your information across all of your devices. If you don't want to deal with a prompt every time an app tries to read the IDFA and stop tracking altogether, you can do the following:

  1. Go into Settings.

  2. 2. Select Privacy.

  3. 3. Select Tracking.

  4. 4. Switch the toggle to OFF for 'Allow Apps to Request to Track'

I'm sure you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that changing some settings on your phones can help boost your privacy and prevent big tech companies from following you across the internet. Let's hope more companies step up and do more to protect our personal data.

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