iOS Location Tracking
iOS 11 will stop apps such as Uber and Waze from tracking customers at all times Pictured: Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS Software at Apple Inc., demonstrates turn-by-turn navigation in iOS6 using Siri during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco, June 11, 2012. Reuters/Stephen Lam

Apple launched iOS 11 at its World Wide Developers Conference 2017 Monday. The new operating system comes with a slew of features such as a file management system, a redesigned app switcher and a quick type keyboard, but one feature of the operating system that wasn’t announced at the event was that it will automatically disable location tracking for apps such as Uber and Waze if they haven’t been used for some time.

Read: Uber Location Data: Employees Allowed To Track Customers, According To Lawsuit

It might sound like a small tweak, but it is actually an essential security feature. iOS 11 comes with a new “while using the app” location setting for all apps, which was spotted by developers Chengyin Liu and Joe Duvall Tuesday. The settings lets apps access user data only when they are being used and switches off access when you stop using the app. Previously, this setting was only accessible to Apple developers.

The upcoming Android update — Android O will also have a similar feature, which will stop apps from tracking users indefinitely, unless users provide it the permission to do so.

Location tracking at all times means that companies such as Uber and Waze can collect a huge chunk of data even while you are not using them. This makes the users’ essential information such as where they are at a particular point of time, available to such companies to use as they see fit, which is a dangerous proposition.

The controversy around location sharing at all times started in November last year, when ride-hailing service Uber changed the way it collected user data from collecting data while the user was accessing the app to accessing user location even while users weren’t using the app. In December, a lawsuit was filed against Uber alleging that the company’s employees abused its tracking system to track high-profile celebrities.

Later the same month, Uber blamed iOS for tracking users’ location long after they had used the app.

“For people who choose to integrate ride sharing apps with iOS Maps, location data must be shared in order for you to request a ride inside the Maps app. Map extensions are disabled by default and you can choose to turn them on in your iOS settings,” an Uber rep told Techcrunch at the time. Simply put, it said that iOS’ design made it hard for Uber customers to protect their privacy.

The new iOS11 user setting is a positive step towards ensuring user privacy and limiting apps’ access to user data. In fact, since services such as location tracking will be used only for a limited period, it could also save battery.

Read: iOS 11 Vs Android O: How New Features On Apple And Google’s New Systems Compare

Currently iOS11 is available only to developer account holders. User will have to wait for its general release, which is slated to happen in September. One caveat though is that users with iPhone 5S or earlier handsets will not be able to use the feature since their devices aren’t eligible for iOS 11.