Control which iPhone apps are allowed to stay 'active' when they're off
Change your iPhone's default setting for Background App Refresh to prevent apps from tracking you and otherwise helping themselves to your private data even when the apps aren't active.
About three or four times a year, people get in a huff about something Facebook does to violate their privacy. This month the hubbub is over the Facebook Messenger app for Android, which wants access to just about everything on your phone or tablet. As Jacques Gallant reported on The Star, the app is now required for messaging your Facebook friends from your mobile device.
Facebook Messenger can make calls without asking first, send texts, use the device's microphone to record audio, use its camera to record still images and video, and access your contacts and call log. Hold on, it's not as bad as it may sound. The Facebook app follows the same data-use policies of all other Facebook services, and it's not likely to make calls, send texts, or otherwise use your phone's features without your knowledge or permission, as Reed Albergotti explains on the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog.
In fact, lots of Android and iPhone/iPad apps request more access to your device's data and features than they need. Amelia Orwick of the Advocate Messenger points out that Kim Kardashian's best-selling game app knows your location, device ID, and incoming calls. A new Android app called NativeWrap gives users control over all their apps' permissions. The app creates a "platform" inside which Web pages open without sharing data with any third-parties. NativeWrap also applies SSL encryption to all sites and prevents redirects to potentially malicious sites.
One of the default iPhone settings you need to change is Background App Refresh. Chances are you've never heard of this setting, but it's the best way to prevent apps from tracking your location even when the programs aren't active. Forbes' Kashmir Hill describes how the background-refresh feature works, and how to disable it app by app.
To access the refresh options, choose Settings > General > Background App Refresh. You can either disable background refreshing for all apps or for only those you select (you probably want some apps to automatically refresh, such as your mail program and weather app. I also let the cloud-storage sites I use to refresh in the background.