How to limit Google app tracking on your Apple devices

If you have an iPhone or Mac, you’ve probably heard chatter lately of Google tracking your every move. Apple is always on the cutting edge when it comes to privacy, so it’s no surprise that their recent App Store and iOS privacy policies were recently updated to force app developers to be more transparent about their data collection practices. As a result, users have been able to see what data various companies can track — even Google. Now, users can view the information an app tracks in the new section of the App Store labeled App Privacy. If you’ve taken the time to look at this, you’ve surely noticed the massive amount of data that Google collects from you, and you may not like it. Here are a few tips and tricks to put an end to, or at least limit, how much Google knows about you and your preferences.

Why this is a problem

We know that Google is tracking our information when we use all of their popular apps. Google Search, Google Maps, Google Photos, Gmail, and Chrome all track and store your data. But what does Google do with all of your data? Thankfully, they don’t sell it, but third-party companies do pay them a ton of money for their help delivering ads targeted to potential customers. Google is one of the more aggressive takers of data, and their database is one of the largest, which poses a problem when there is a data breach — and they happen all of the time.

How to stop it

Now that you know it’s a problem, you need to know how to stop it. Since Google isn’t the only guilty party here, we’ll discuss all apps and Google-specific apps.

Most apps

The first step to stopping the suctioning of your data into Google’s databases is to use the App Store’s new feature to make informed decisions regarding what apps you download. If an app crosses the line in terms of privacy, don’t download it. Only you can determine what is across the line, so read up on privacy so you know what you’re deciding on. You can also disable specific data-tracking permissions when an app is first installed and make other adjustments down the road in iOS settings. These steps won’t stop apps from collecting your data, but they will make the data collected more anonymous, and that is a good thing.

Google apps

Google apps offer a few more options for curbing the amount of data they take from you. First, you can turn off activity tracking in your Google account settings. Some of them may even have an option to auto-delete whenever possible; if they do, take advantage. The next step is to disable Gmail’s smart features (if you use Gmail) since they track your data like crazy. When you sign up for other apps or into other websites, don’t choose the option to use your Google credentials to log in. Lastly, turn off the GPS on your phone when you aren’t using it — this will keep Google Maps from tracking your whereabouts.

Other workarounds

Since you have an iPhone (and/or Mac), you have more options for cutting Google out of your life than Android, Chrome OS, and Windows users. Apple offers many first-party alternative apps to most Google services, allowing you to limit app tracking on your iPhone. Example: Switch from Google Maps to Apple Maps. You can use Safari on your iPhone and Mac, and it not only will eliminate one Google App from tracking your every click, but the browser actually performs better than Chrome OS on Apple devices. All of this isn’t to say that Apple isn’t tracking your data because they are — every company is. The thing is, though, that Apple has a much better privacy policy than most Google practices, so even if they gather your data, they use it more responsibly — if that sort of thing matters to you.

Apple products have always boasted improved security and privacy, and this is why many people choose Apple over other products. All major companies are indeed in the business of gathering our data and using it to their advantage, but some are worse than others. If you’re not into being virtually spied on all day long and you have an iPhone or Mac, at least you have some options to lessen the invasion. Switching apps takes some getting used to, and changing settings can be a pain, but these are small steps that will pay off big in terms of peace of mind.

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