How to manage location data access for iPhone and iPad widgets

Widget location permissions iPhone - hero image

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 protect your privacy by permitting you to adjust location permissions for specific widgets, which wasn’t possible before. Follow along with us as we show you how to manually adjust and manage widget location permissions on your iPhone or iPad.

Home screen widgets

iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur bring interactive widgets that provide snippets of information every time you land on the Home screen or access your Today view. Some widgets may require location access before providing relevant information. For instance, the Maps widget can provide reliable turn-by-turn navigation only if it knows your current location.

Widget location permissions iPhone - WWDC 2020 slide introducing iPhone and iPad widgets

Widgets can request location access via iOS’s standard system-wide permission prompt. In addition, the user can manually manage location data access for any widgets that need it.

How to manage widget location access

Before iOS and iPadOS 14 came along, a widget would simply inherit location permissions from its container app. For instance, setting location access for the Weather app to “Always” in iOS 13 would automatically give the same location permission to the accompanying widget. In iOS and iPadOS 14, the user can adjust location permissions for a specific widget.

Managing widget location access from the permission prompt

A widget like Weather may requesting access to your location. “Widgets may use your location for up to 15 minutes after being viewed to stay up to date,” reads the permission prompt.

Widget location permissions iPhone - Home screen permission prompt
You can adjust a widget’s location access manually, too

To give all the widgets from that particular app access to your location, tap “Allow”. Conversely, you can deny access by choosing the option labeled with the text “Don’t Allow”.

Managing widget location access manually

Follow the step-by-step tutorial below if you’d like to learn how you can manually manage location access for specific widgets in Settings on your iPhone and iPad:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 14+ or your iPad with iPadOS 14+.
  2. Choose “Privacy” in the root list.
  3. Tap “Location Services” at the very top of the list.
  4. Tap a listed app that has a widget, such as Weather.
  5. Now choose between the available options to manage widget location access.
Widget location permissions iPhone - Using Privacy settings to manage a widget's location permission

The following options are available:

  • Never: Neither the widget nor its app have access to your location
  • Ask Next Time: Put up a permission prompt the next time you use this app or widget
  • While Using the App or Widgets: Location is provided when the app/widget is in use
  • While Using the App: Give the app access to your location, but not its widget
  • Always: The app/widget can access your location for 15 minutes after being viewed

In other words, tapping “Always” gives the widget location access in 15-minute increments. You can also choose  between providing a widget access to your precise or approximate location.

Sharing only approximate location with widgets

Navigation apps like Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps and so forth work best when they can pinpoint your exact location with precision. But a weather app, on the other hand, works just fine even if it’s only allowed to determine the city where you live or just an approximate region.

Widget location access iPhone - sharing approximate location
Choosing whether to share your approximate or precise location right from the permission prompt

To limit location access for an app/widget to your approximate location, turn off “Precise Location” in an app’s location settings or set “Precise” to “Off” in its permission prompt.

50 major new features in iOS 14

For a quick overview of the 50 headline new iPhone and iPod touch features introduced with iOS 14, be sure to watch our hands-on video walkthrough embedded right ahead.

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