Uber users on iPhones can now block the app from always tracking their location, thanks to Apple's new iOS update

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Uber users on iPhones can now block the app from always tracking their location, thanks to Apple's new iOS update

Uber location tracking update

Caroline Cakebread/Business Insider

Good news Uber users: If you have an iPhone, you can now limit the company's ability to keep tabs on your whereabouts.

Uber's app uses location tracking to steer drivers your way when you request a ride, so you don't have to manually enter an address. But last year, via an update to the app, the new-age taxi service started forcing users to choose between "always on" location tracking and no tracking at all. That allowed the company to keep tabs on users even when they weren't using its service.

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Apple's latest update to its iOS software, the operating system that underlies the iPhone and iPad, returns to Uber customers some control over access to their locations. iOS 11 mandates that all apps that request the ability to track users' locations give them the ability to limit that tracking to just "while using the app." Previously, app developers could disable that option.

The change forced Uber to update its iOS app to lets users choose between "always," "while using the app," and "never," in terms of location settings. The change to its app benefits even those users still running older versions of iOS; those running iOS 10, for example, will be able to opt out of always-on location tracking too. On its developer page, Apple recommends that "when using the app" should be the default preference for all apps in terms of location sharing.

Uber has a rocky history, when it comes to privacy issues with users.

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Prior to updating its app last year to limit users' location setting preferences, Uber had changed its privacy policy to alert users that it might choose to track them even when they had closed its app. After it made that change to its policy, a privacy rights group filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission. The company also got caught using a tool called "God View" to track a Buzzfeed reporter without her permission.