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What you need to know about the new iOS 14: Location Permissions

Lucas Brechot

Another year and another WWDC conference went by with lots of exciting new features and UX evolutions for the upcoming iOS 14 release (set to be released in the fall of 2020). The new OS version includes significant updates to the way location access is managed, updates to which developers working with apps that use location should pay close attention.

In a nutshell

Apple introduces a new dimension of location permission that distinguishes whether mobile apps can access the precise location of their users or their approximate location. In doing so, the Cupertino firm educates users as to the different ways mobile location can be collected by mobile applications. 

With a greater understanding of location collection practices, one can expect that mobile uses will pay greater attention to location based use cases behind the permission requests and in consequence be more open to sharing their location with mobile apps. 

What is new ?

1 - New Permission Dimension: Precise vs Non-Precise Location

With iOS 14, Apple introduced a new dimension within location permissions. Mobile developers will now have to specify if they need to access the location of their users in a precise or approximate way. 

This will have the UI/UX consequence of informing users of which precision level the app is requesting give them the choice to either accept/refuse or to modify the level of precision granted. See the new permission screen 

Ex: A Retail app can request full precision in order to alert users when there are deals around her vs a TV show app can request reduced precision in order to simply modulate content based on the country/city in which the user is located.

  • iOS Location permissions has now 2 dimensions and 8 possible 

  • The level of precision given at the first request will be the default one throughout the rest of the user experience 

If a user allows an app to collect its location in a non-precise way and while using the app. The app can later on request “always” access but will be by default non -precise. Users must go in settings to change the level of precision granted to an app.

  • Changing the precision level in the pop up only works from precise to non-precise

If a developer requests location in precise way, the user can change it to non-precise. But if the developer requests location in a non-precise way, the user cannot change it to precise in the permission pop-up. 

  • Limitations within the non-precise location collection  limitations (accuracy, beacons, geo-fences)

  • Temporary access

Even if the user has given access to their approximate location, mobile apps can, when the user is using the app, request a temporary one-off request for precise location if they have particular need for a more precise location.

2 - Other Privacy Measures

  • Questionnaire

Apps using location will have to complete a questionnaire to explain why they are collecting user locations. At the time this post is written, this questionnaire has not yet been released. More info here: 

  • Updated app store page

The App Store will show immediately what are the permissions asked by an application.

What do you need to do ?

1 - Update statutes

Because there are now two dimensions to locations permissions under iOS, there are now two statutes for developers to declare:

2 - Prepare the questionnaire

Once it will be available, you will need to fill out the questionnaire and return to Apple for submission.

3- Optimize requests

Depending on the level of precision required for the desired use case and the level of permission granted by the users, developers can formulate strategies to optimize opt-ins. 

In fact by using in-app pages dedicated to educating users around the desired location use cases and surveying the openness of users to the location request even before triggering the system permissions, mobile apps can greatly increase their opt-in rates. 

Start a free-trial for our privacy-first geofencing solution

4 - Explaining is key

As mentioned earlier, the very aim of these new features is to educate users around location use cases to help them make an informed choice. Most users see value in contextually aware mobile applications and react positively to requests if they understand clearly the reason behind the request.

Herow surveyed 3,000 users at the beginning of 2020 around their behaviors towards location permissions and the following results emerged:

Ask for advice

The Herow team has over 13 years of experience in developing location based services for its clients, from NFC tags to QR codes to beacons to geo-fences we’ve seen it all. Throughout those years we have developed best practices as to how to collect location data, how to store it and how to ask for consent for it. 

Book a Demo and chat with us to learn some best practices!

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