I updated my iPhone 4 to iOS 5 last night. In iOS 4, the purple GPS arrow appeared next to the battery indicator when an app I was using (or had running in the background) was actively accessing my location data. Now, it seems to be on all the time, even when I have no apps running.

Does this icon now simply denote the fact that I have Location Services turned on, instead of notifying me that they are being used (like it used to)?

5 Answers 5


It's a new feature in ios 5 called "region Monitoring"

The reason it's active even if the app is closed is that this feature runs in iOS 5 core and notifies all apps that are registered when they have entered or left a specific geo-fence.

Reminders does that when you use a location based reminder.

Although the location icon appears at all time. This actually has very minimal impact on the battery due to apple really optimizing this feature by using cell and wifi mostly.

  • Aha! This is what I was really wondering about. Thank you!
    – hairboat
    Oct 15, 2011 at 19:10

Since it's a new iOS 5 feature, I'll add some information (even though it's not your problem).

Starting with iOS 5, you can ask the system to notify you when your location is being used.
You can find the relevant options in Preferences > Location Services > System Services.

There you can choose iOS 5 services that are allowed to geolocate:

  • Cell Network Search
  • Compass Calibration
  • Diagnostics & Usage
  • Location-Based iAds
  • Setting Time Zone
  • Traffic

You can also specify whether or not to show the icon in the status bar.

Also, a grey icon in front of an application in Preferences > Location Services means that the app has used your location in the last 24 hours. If the icon is blue, the application is using it right now.

So you could have known right away which app was the culprit.

  • I was initially confused by the use of word “localization” which is generally understood as process of translating an application to another languages (locales).
    – Dan
    Oct 13, 2011 at 12:22
  • I've changed it to "your location", sorry for the confusion, I've mixed up with French. Oct 13, 2011 at 12:25
  • This is actually not the correct reason for what's going on. It's a core iOS 5 feature called "region monitoring" look it up.
    – Ben
    Oct 15, 2011 at 10:12
  • The feature which informs you which apps are using (or have recently used) Location Services was added in an iOS 4 point release, I believe: it may have been shortly after the highly-publicized issues with the phone storing unencrypted location history. You are correct about the System Services-level settings being an iOS 5 addition, though.
    – Dan J
    Oct 16, 2011 at 12:08
  • I believe the 2-colors (currently locating or was locating in the last 24 hours is also new) Oct 16, 2011 at 21:34

Ah - I fiddled around with a few different apps and discovered that Foursquare was the culprit. When Foursquare's new Radar feature is on, it is always using your location data, even when the app itself is not running. I've turned it off for now, since I don't want it running my battery down unnecessarily.

  • You probably wanted to say “even when the app is running in background”. It is running when you switch to another application. If you want to exit the application, switch to any other app or the home screen and then press Home button twice to see running apps. Then hold your finger on the app you want to force quit and press the close sign that will appear.
    – Dan
    Oct 13, 2011 at 12:20
  • 1
    @Dan Foursquare's Radar runs even when the app has been force quit like you described. I am pretty obsessive about quitting background apps. I didn't mistype, but thanks for checking!
    – hairboat
    Oct 13, 2011 at 12:30
  • Wow. I didn't know this was possible in iOS, thanks for correcting me.
    – Dan
    Oct 13, 2011 at 12:37
  • @Dan yeah, it's sort of crazy. They don't mention the capability in their blog post about it, but Radar Settings within the app explains: "When you turn on Radar, your device will occasionally send foursquare its location, even if the app is not running (that's so we can find stuff for you).
    – hairboat
    Oct 13, 2011 at 13:34
  • If the app isn't running, where does iOS send the location data? Foursquare's web service? I wonder what part of Location Services is responsible for sending data to something that isn't an app on the phone, and if/how that can be controlled...
    – Dan J
    Oct 16, 2011 at 12:10

My location services icon was always on due to the Setting Time Zone locations service always being active. This is an Apple bug which does not happen on all devices and DOES drain your battery life considerably.

If you want to prove it just turn on the Time Zone locations service and before you put your phone onto charge at night go to Settings > General > Usage and take note of the time since last charged. Then do the same the following night and you will see a dramatic difference.

This is a known bug which Apple intend to fix in the near future but anyone who says Location Services does not drain the the battery in your iPhone quicker does not know what they are talking about. This service is only used if you want your phone to update its time zone when you travel to different countries. Which you can do by switching it on for a short period when you get to your destination, let the time update then turn it back off again.

  • 3
    In the interest of completion, you're missing a ton of steps to prove your point. Such as the fact that you forgot to tell the user to turn off Time Zone locations for the next night. Locations Services will most certainly use more battery life than if you disabled them, but Time Zone updates on it's own? As-if. More likely are things like foursquare Radar, Google Latitude, and geofenced Reminders. Try to write an answer with a little bit less rage, and it will come out sounding, and looking, quite a bit better. Jan 15, 2012 at 9:23
  • The irony of me talking about 'better formatting' is completely lost on the gigantic wall of text that comments are :/. Alas... Jan 15, 2012 at 9:23

I was same problem I just done reset all setting from general That's it it is gone

  • 1
    Erasing everything is a thorough way to clear any apps using location services, but couldn't you just turn off location?
    – bmike
    Jan 8, 2014 at 14:40

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