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How iOS 11 Curbs Uber's Over-Zealous Location Tracking

It's not being touted as one of the major features of iOS 11, but Apple's newly released mobile OS gives you more control over how you share your location data with app makers. And Uber may be a big reason why.

Credit: Anutr Yossundara/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Anutr Yossundara/Shutterstock)

Uber caused a bit of an uproar late last year when an update to its ride-sharing app looked to collect location data even when the Uber app wasn't in use. That update removed a While Using the App option for location-data collection, essentially forcing users to either give permission to Uber's app to always track location or disable location tracking completely. At the time, Uber claimed this approach was being done in the name of improving rider experience.

MORE: iOS 11 Review: Your iPhone Just Got More Powerful

Coincidentally or not, Apple indicated it was changing its approach to location permissions when it previewed iOS 11 at this June's Worldwide Developer Conference. Starting with iOS 11, apps would have to have include the While Using the App option if they wanted to collect location data. Apple also strongly suggested that app makers "request only when-in-use authorization whenever possible."

With iOS 11 arriving this week, iPhone users have their first chance to see this feature in action. It appears to be working as Apple promised.

I downloaded the Uber app to my iOS 11-powered phone. When I launched the app, a permission popped up asking if I would let Uber track my location when I used the app, promising to stop tracking my data once my Uber trip ended. Just to confirm, I checked the permissions on the Uber app, and the While Using the App option was the selected one.

That option reappeared in the latest update to Uber's iOS app — version 3.261.4 — which landed on the App Store yesterday (Sept. 20). The update's description confirms that you're able to choose among "Always," "Never" and "While Using the App" for location data — as Apple now mandates for iOS 11.

Want to check how much location information you're sharing with Uber? It's easy to do so from right within the app.

1. Tap the three vertical bars in the upper left corner of the screen. On the subsequent menu, tap Settings.

2. Scroll down and tap on Privacy Settings.

3. Select Location.

4. Choose how frequently you'd like Uber to access your location data. While Using the App is the solid choice.