The Find My app asking for location access on an iPhone running iOS 13.
Konstantin Savusia/

It’s time to take another look at your iPhone location permissions. Now, you don’t have to give apps permanent access to your location: You can grant access only once and require consent every time an app wants your location.

A New Privacy Option for Your Location

Before iOS 13 for iPhones and the new iPadOS for iPads, you only had three choices when an app wanted access to your location: Never, While Using, and Always.

The “While Using” option is a good compromise, ensuring apps could bring up maps and make use of your location while you’re using them. Unlike apps with the “Always” permission, they can’t access your location in the background.

There’s still one problem here: If you give an app access to your location once, that app can keep accessing your location over and over if you use it in the future. What if you just want to pull up a map once in an app without giving it permanent access to your location?

Now You Can Force Apps to “Ask Next Time”

The Allow Once option for Yelp's location access on an iPhone.

Now, there’s another compromise option: “Allow Once,” also known as “Ask Next Time.” Whenever an app wants access to your location, you can give it access to your location just this time and force it to ask next time by tapping the “Allow Once” option. You’re in control of how much the app can access your location.

This change is part of iOS 13 for iPhones and the new iPadOS for iPads. Like the new Bluetooth permission apps are asking for, this change can help protect the privacy of your physical location. It’s up to you whether you want to reveal it to apps.

Previously, to accomplish something like this, you’d have to allow location access for an app and then immediately dig through the Settings app and revoke it.

RELATED: Why iPhone and iPad Apps Are Asking to Use Bluetooth

When You Might Want to Do This

Many apps ask for access to your location but don’t necessarily require it all the time. For example, a store’s app might request location access when you pull up a map of nearby locations. In the past, you had to select “While Using” to grant this access—but then the app would be free to access your location as much as it wanted while you were using the app. That data could then be used to track your shopping preferences and target advertising to you.

This new option lets you give access to your location just once.

Should you make every app you use always ask for location access? Probably not. Some apps just need your location—you’ll probably want to give Uber or Lyft access to your location every time you’re using it to take a ride.

On the other hand, if you just want to give an app your location once to access a specific feature, “Allow Once” is a smart option to start with. If you find yourself using the app’s location permissions quite a bit, you can select “Allow While Using App” in the future and avoid the prompts.

How to Force Previously Installed Apps to Ask

If you’ve previously given an app access to your location—or denied it—you won’t see this permission prompt. However, you can still select the “Ask Next Time” option for any of your installed iPhone or iPad apps.

To do so, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You’ll see a list of apps and their location permission settings.

An iPhone location services screen showing various Google apps set to While Using, Ask, and Always.

Tap an app’s name here to change its location permissions. You can then select “Ask Next Time,” if you like.

This option is available for all apps. App developers can’t prevent you from selecting it for their apps.

iPhone location permissions showing the Yelp app set to Ask Next Time.

By the way, if you select “Ask Next Time” and then deny access to your location, the app’s access to your location will be set to “Never,” and it won’t be able to access your location again. This prevents an app from bombarding you with location requests. You can still head to the Settings app and set it back to “Ask Next Time.”

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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