App User Location Permissions in iOS 13 and Android 10

18 September 2019

With Android 10 launched earlier this month and iOS13 releasing on September 19th, let’s have a look at the main changes brought to location permissions by these releases!

I –  iOS 13 – 19 September 2019

With iOS 13, Apple is going further in terms of protecting the privacy of users and this is manifested by new permission options and flow available to the user:

1. The first prompt

In iOS 13, the first prompt to access the user location will include the following options:

  • Allow While Using App
  • Allow Once
  • Don’t Allow
  • “Allow While Using App”

If the user grants “Allow While Using App”, the app will be able to access  user locations only when the app is opened. The novelty brought by iOS 13 is that this “while in use” permission is now a gateway for the developer to ask for the “always allow” permission. As you can see the “always allow” option is not present in the first prompt, instead the users needs to accept location “while in use” and then, in a second prompt, the user will be able to give the “always allow” permission.

  • “Allow once”

If the user grants “Allow Once”, the app will have access to the phone location tracking only when the application is used. The user will be prompted with the same permissions pop-up window each time he will open the app. This gives the option to the user to change the location permission to “Don’t allow” or “Allow while using the app” at a later date.

  • “Don’t Allow”

Like in previous versions, if the user doesn’t allow access to its location, the app developer won’t be able to access user location. The user can always change this in the settings section of its device.

2. The second prompt

Like mentioned before, if the user granted “Allow While Using App” to the first prompt, iOS 13 will trigger a second prompt that allows the user to upgrade to “Change to Always Allow”. Please note that this period is determined by the OS and that there is currently not a lot of information on this specific timing.

3. Confirmation prompts

A final thing that will change is that when the user grants “Change to Always Allow”, after a couple of days, there will be a confirmation prompt that will  inform the user that the location is activated in background and prompt for confirmation to continue using “Change to Alway Allow”. If your user decided to switch back to the “Allow While Using the App” option, your app will not have the option to prompt the user again to “Change to Always Allow” permission. The user would have to change this in the settings.

II – Android 10 – 3 September 2019

Like iOS 13, Android 10 went further to protect the privacy of its users. But things are more familiar for this new release, especially because this new version more or less mirrors the location permission options of iOS 12. 

1. Background location permissions

On Android 10, the user must now grant background permissions separately from foreground permissions. In a similar manner to iOS 12, if the app prompts for background permissions, the user will have the option to grant only foreground permissions too.

2. Background location reminders

Finally, the other important evolution concerns the appearance of “background location reminders”: if your user grants background permissions, Android 10 will show him a dedicated notification after a few days in order to give users the opportunity to change settings.

In conclusion, at Connecthings we think that these novelties in terms of location permissions are good news for the users and for mobile applications. This is an opportunity for mobile apps to re-center the discussion on the value perceived by the user and to give them more transparency on how their data will be used. These two components will contribute to building more trust from users towards mobile apps using location, and in turn will increase the variety of use cases that mobile apps can suggest to the users and their acceptance rate.

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