iOS 11 Will Better Notify Users When an App is Using Location in the Background

There is a blue bar, and sometimes a green bar, that shows up at the very top of an iOS’s display when something is actively happening in the background.

For instance, using the personal hotspot feature on your iOS device will prompt a blue bar to show up at the top of the screen, informing the user that their hotspot is being used. The same bar shows up at the top of the display, but in green, when the user is on a phone call, not only informing them that they’re still on the call, but also making it easy to quickly tap back into it if need be.

That blue bar appears to be getting much more of a workout in iOS 11. As reported by TechCrunch, the upcoming software update, which is expected to arrive in September, will keep the blue bar up at the top of the display whenever an app is accessing the device’s location in the background. This means any app, so Facebook, or Foursquare, or Uber, and so on and so forth.

This will provoke app developers to explain to the user in a clearer fashion as to why their app needs to have access to the user’s location in the background. Some apps, after initially being installed, will automatically set the software to collect location information in the background, and it can only be deactivated by the user. iOS 10 does a good job of indicating that an app has been using the user’s location in the background, but sometimes the app can sneak through.

This blue bar will “name and shame” an app that’s using the location tracking privileges in the background. Up to this point there has been an “Always” and “Never” option for every single app, with a third alternative, “While Using the App” being available in some apps. That third option will be available for every single app with iOS 11, though. The blue bar is meant to alert users that the app has been set to “Always” when it comes to location tracking, so they can tap on the warning and make changes as they see fit.

“In iOS 10, if an app was set to use location “Only While Using the App”, and you pressed the Home button, a blue bar would appear. In iOS 11, the blue bar functionality has been expanded to those apps that are set to “Always,” too.

That means the blue status bar displays when those apps are using the continuous background location service – sort of like how the green bar shows up when a phone call is active, but you’ve exited from the Phone app to go to your home screen.

This dramatically increases the visibility of apps’ use of your location data, potentially highlighting troublesome apps to end users who may not have been aware of what permissions the app had been given.”

For many iOS users, this new feature, while simple enough, may actually save quite a bit of battery life on a regular basis. As anyone will tell you, location services are a surefire way to drain a battery, and if they’re happening in the background on a regular basis, it can kill a battery quite quickly. Giving users a notice that an app is using their location in the background, and perhaps without their knowledge, will give them more power.

What do you think of the upcoming change?

[via TechCrunch]