That mysterious hollow arrow in the corner of your iPhone screen can be annoying and concerning. Is an app spying on you? Why does it keep appearing? How do you make it go away for good?
This handy guide will explain what that arrow means, when you should worry about it, and the various ways to banish it from your iPhone once and for all. Read on to demystify the hollow arrow icon and take control over your iPhone’s location access.
- The hollow arrow indicates an app is using your iPhone’s location services and GPS.
- It appears whenever an app accesses your location in the background.
- You can hide the icon, disable location services, or limit access by specific apps.
- Some apps may lose functionality if you restrict location access.
- Carefully manage location access to maximize privacy without losing useful features.
What Does the Hollow Arrow on iPhone Mean?
That angular arrow outline next to your iPhone battery icon means an app on your device is using your location data. It appears whenever an app actively taps into the GPS, Wi-Fi networks, or cellular data to pinpoint your physical location.
We expect to see it with maps and weather apps. But sometimes it pops up at odd times, and you may wonder which app is tracking you. Don’t panic just yet – this guide will cover what that icon means and when to take action.
A Warning Sign You’re Being Tracked
The hollow arrow is essentially a warning that your location data is being transmitted. It means at least one app has requested and gained access to monitor your GPS coordinates.
This isn’t necessarily dangerous. Most of the time, it’s a harmless result of normal app functioning. But the icon serves as a reminder that your privacy could be compromised.
Three Scenarios When It Appears
You will typically notice the hollow arrow icon under three circumstances:
- Using Location-Based Apps: When navigating with Apple Maps, getting the weather, finding local businesses – these apps need your location to provide information. The icon appears while the app pulls your GPS data.
- Background Location Tracking: Apps may continue accessing your location in the background if you granted them permission. The hollow arrow will display periodically when they make these checks.
- System-Wide Tracking: Some iPhone system services utilize location data in the background as well. The arrow indicates when Siri, Find My, or iCloud syncing use your coordinates behind the scenes.
Again, most instances of background tracking are harmless. But sometimes a misbehaving app accesses your location far more than necessary.
When to Worry About the Hollow Arrow Icon
The hollow arrow icon itself is never dangerous – but it can signify issues worth addressing:
- App access without your consent
- Excessive background location monitoring
- Drain on battery life
- Privacy and security vulnerabilities
If the icon appears randomly while no obvious app is running, an unauthorized program may have obtained your location data. Frequent background tracking also quickly saps your battery.
It’s wise to periodically audit which apps access your coordinates and determine if they really need that privilege. The hollow icon is a prompt to check that your location permissions are configured properly.
How to Hide the Hollow Arrow Icon on iPhone
If the hollow arrow annoys you, you can banish it with just a few taps. Hiding the icon prevents constant reminders that your location is being monitored, but it doesn’t solve excessive tracking on its own. Here’s how to make the arrow disappear:
- Open Settings and select Privacy & Security.
- Choose Location Services.
- Scroll down and select System Services.
- Turn off the switch next to Status Bar Icon.
This prevents the hollow arrow from ever appearing in your status bar again. But apps can still access your location data behind the scenes. To fully address privacy concerns, you’ll need to configure individual app permissions.
The Drawback of Hiding the Icon
This method simply masks the symptom. Disabling the status bar icon prevents that visual cue that your location is being tapped. You may forget that apps are still using your coordinates in the background.
Hiding the icon essentially reduces your location privacy awareness. You won’t know when your data is being accessed. That convenience may not be worth the security trade-off for some users.
How to Disable iPhone Location Services Completely
If you want to nuke location tracking from orbit, you can disable the entire GPS and location system for your iPhone. Here are the steps:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
- At the top, toggle the switch for Location Services to the OFF position.
This completely cuts off all app access to your device’s location data. As a result, any apps relying on your GPS coordinates will lose functionality or switch to limited modes.
Disabling location services gives you maximum privacy at the cost of hobbling certain apps. Before taking this step, you may want to selectively restrict access just for specific concerning apps.
Impacts of Turning Off All Location Access
With all location services disabled:
- Maps and navigation apps won’t work.
- Any app relying on your GPS won’t be able to pinpoint your position.
- Localized recommendations and features will fail.
- Ride sharing and delivery services can’t track your location.
- Find My iPhone will be unable to find your device location.
- Location-based Automations and triggers will not run.
- Accurate weather information based on your position won’t be available.
You’ll regain privacy at the cost of crippling useful app features. For most users, selectively managing permissions on an app-by-app basis is the right balance. But the nuclear option exists if you truly want to shut off GPS tracking entirely.
How to Limit Location Access by Specific Apps on iPhone
For precise control over your privacy, you can change location permissions for individual apps. Only allow trusted apps to view your coordinates while restricting unnecessary access.
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
- Scroll down to see a list of apps using your location.
- Select an app and choose whether to allow access Always, While Using the App, or Never.
Adjust these settings for each app depending on how much you trust it. turn off location for unnecessary apps completely. Apps you want running in the background can remain on “Always” if you need their geofencing or tracking.
Tips for Managing App Location Settings
- Turn off location for apps that don’t need it like flashlights, games, QR scanners, etc.
- Allow “While Using” for apps like maps and weather so they only access your GPS while open.
- Maintain “Always” for apps you need tracking you like Find My, security services, and fitness trackers.
- If an app seems to use your location too much, try restricting it to “While Using” only.
- Revoke location access if an app is suspicious or you don’t remember approving it.
Taking the time to tune these settings gives you control over each app’s access to your personal location data. You can find the right balance for convenience and privacy.
Location Services and Battery Drain on iPhone
That persistent hollow arrow can also be a sign of battery drain from excessive location checks. Frequent GPS usage in the background takes a toll on your iPhone’s power.
The more an app pings your position, the faster your battery drains trying to keep up. You may notice much shorter battery life if multiple apps are constantly accessing your coordinates.
To identify which apps are gulping battery by overusing GPS:
- Go to Settings > Battery.
- Wait for battery usage by app to populate.
- Check the apps using the most battery in the background.
- Tap any high battery using app and disable “Allow Background Activity” or reduce their location access.
Apple also provides a dedicated tracker for battery drain specifically from location services. To check it:
- Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services.
- View battery usage from location services for the past 24 hours or 10 days.
- Take action to restrict heavy location tracking apps.
Reigning in unnecessary location checks provides the dual benefit of preserving battery life while boosting privacy. The hollow arrow icon ties both issues together as a reminder to optimize your settings.
Location Tracking and Your iPhone Privacy
Many iPhone users don’t realize how often their position is being monitored and shared behind the scenes. That innocent-looking arrow consistently popping up is your clue that something may be amiss.
Make sure you understand the privacy trade-offs before granting each app access to your GPS and coordinates. Here are key points to consider:
- Disable location services for apps that don’t need it. Games and utility apps rarely require your GPS info.
- Reduce tracking to “While Using” the app only for services that provide occasional recommendations based on your location like social platforms and dining.
- Leave “Always Allow” only for apps where continuous background tracking is essential like navigation, fitness and device finders.
- If you notice the hollow icon appearing randomly with no clear source app, investigate which program is behind it and revoke its access if necessary.
- Location access juiced by advertising trackers can consume battery life. Limit it on apps providing minimal utility.
- iOS 15 introduced App Privacy Reports that show how often each app uses your location data. Check it under Settings > Privacy & Security > Privacy Report.
- Make sure each human member of your Family Sharing plan has their location settings properly configured for privacy. Apps you enable can access the whole group’s GPS data.
Finding the right settings balance takes some trial and error. But don’t let that arrow bully you. Take control of your iPhone location services and tune them to your comfort level. Regain peace of mind knowing exactly which apps can see your coordinates.
Common Questions About the Hollow Arrow Icon
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about that mysterious hollow arrow in the iPhone status bar:
Why does the arrow appear when I’m not using any apps?
Apps you granted “Always” location access will periodically track your GPS in the background. The arrow indicates their activity checking your position. Check Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services to see which apps have constant access enabled.
How do I tell which app is using my location?
Pull down from the top right to open Control Center and tap the location icon. A list will pop up showing which apps have recently requested your location. Alternatively, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services and view the list of apps with access.
Is it bad if I always see the location icon?
Not necessarily, but frequent background tracking can indicate issues like battery drain. Audit which apps actually need constant access to your coordinates vs. ones that only need occasional access when open. Adjust settings accordingly.
Can I prevent any app from tracking my location?
Yes, you can individually disable location access for any app under its settings. Toggle options for Never, While Using, or Always allow depending on your preferences. Some app features may be disabled as a result.
What happens if I turn off Location Services completely?
Disabling Location Services in Settings will prevent any app from accessing your GPS data. Any app that relies on your location will lose functionality or switch to more limited modes. It guarantees privacy but with many feature drawbacks.
Why does my iPhone battery drain faster when the location icon appears?
Frequent GPS usage and background location checks by multiple apps can quickly drain your battery trying to keep up. Reduce background access for battery-draining apps you don’t really need tracking you all the time.
How can I find which apps use my location the most?
Check battery usage graphs in Settings to see apps consuming power in the background. Also view Location Services under Privacy for detailed reports on each app’s usage. iOS 15 added new App Privacy Reports to show frequent location access.
That persistent hollow arrow can meaningfully inform how you manage privacy. Use the visibility it provides to take control over your iPhone location data. With mindful settings adjustment, you can enjoy apps tailored to where you are without compromising security.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does the hollow arrow on iPhone mean?
A: The hollow arrow or compass needle icon on iPhone indicates that an app or service on your iPhone is using Location Services, or GPS.
Q: How do I hide the hollow arrow on iPhone?
A: To hide the hollow arrow, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services and turn off “Status Bar Icon.”
Q: How do I disable Location Services on iPhone?
A: To disable Location Services, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services and toggle the switch at the top to turn it off completely.
Q: What happens if I disable Location Services on iPhone?
A: Disabling Location Services will get rid of the hollow arrow, but some apps may lose functionality. For example, if you need to get directions in Maps, tag your location on social media, or use Find My iPhone to locate your phone if you lose it, you’ll need Location Services enabled.
Q: How do I limit app access to my location on iPhone?
A: To see and edit the apps that can access your location, go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services. You can toggle Location Services off by app.
Q: What is the blue arrow on iPhone?
A: The blue arrow on the status bar shows that an app on your iPhone may be requested to use your location services.
Q: How do I turn off Speak Screen on iPhone?
A: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content > Speak Screen and turn it off.
Q: How do I remove the hollow arrow icon from my iPhone screen while still keeping Location Services enabled?
A: Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services and turn off “Status Bar Icon.”
Q: How do I get rid of the hollow arrow on iPhone without disabling Location Services?
A: You can hide the hollow arrow by going to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services and turning off “Status Bar Icon.”
Q: Why is the hollow arrow on my iPhone screen?
A: The hollow arrow indicates that an app or service on your iPhone is using Location Services, or GPS.