What is the Little Arrow Icon at the Top of My iPhone 5 Screen?

Last updated: January 28, 2018

Your iPhone 5 uses a lot of small symbols to let you know when a feature on the device is turned on or being used. You are probably familiar with the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and battery icons, but there is a small arrow that shows up occasionally that you may not be familiar with. This icon indicates that an app on your iPhone 5 is using the GPS on your device.

Many of the apps on your phone use this function to provide you with information about your current location, such as restaurants or driving directions, while others use them to help you tag images or your whereabouts for social media. It can wear down your battery a little faster, but many people find that the added benefit of the location services for an app outweighs the minor reduction in battery life. So if you want to find learn how to find out which of your apps is using the GPS, you can do so with the tutorial below.

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What Does the iPhone Arrow Icon Mean?

When you see the small arrow icon at the top-right of your iPhone screen, it means that one of the apps on your device is using your location.

There are a lot of apps on your device that have cause to use your location. Some of them are more obvious, such as Google Maps or Waze, while others may be a little less obvious, like your banking app or a social media app.

Some of these apps rely heavily on your location, and simply won’t work as intended without having access to your location information. However, others can still function pretty well without it, and you may not even be using the feature of that app that needs this information.

Either way, you have control over whether or not an app is using your location. The section below shows you how to adjust this setting for each app.

How to See Location Services App Usage Information on an iPhone – Quick Summary

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Choose Privacy.
  3. Select Location Services.
  4. Look for arrows next to apps.

For additional information, such as what the different colors and styles of arrows mean, as well as pictures, continue to the section below.

Find Out Which App Is Using Your GPS on the iPhone 5

The steps below are meant to help you determine which app is using your GPS. However, you can take it one step further by disabling the Location Services option for an app by moving the slider from the right to the left.

Step 1: Touch the Settings icon.

open the settings menu

Step 2: Scroll down and select the Privacy option.

open the privacy menu

Step 3: Select the Location Services option at the top of the screen.

open the location services menu

Step 4: Scroll through the list of apps and check for one with a solid purple arrow. You may have multiple apps with purple arrows, indicating that more than one app is currently using your location, or has recently used your location. For example, Dropbox is currently using my location in the image below.

an app that is using the gps on the iphone 5

At the top of the Location Services menu is an option where you can turn off location services entirely. Some of your apps may not function properly if you elect to turn this setting off, but it is an option if you don’t want any apps to use your location.

You may notice some additional arrow icons next to your apps on this page as well. The legend at the bottom of the screen, shown in the image below, explains what each of those icons represent.

legend of symbols on the location services screen

To summarize the different arrow styles identified in the legend on this menu as well as the image above:

  • A solid purple arrow next to one of your apps indicates that an app has recently used, or is currently using, your location.
  • A solid gray arrow next to one of your apps means that your location has been used by that app within the last 24 hours.
  • A pink outlined arrow means that the app is using a geofence. This is an area around a specific geographic location where an app or reminder will trigger a notification or activity when you enter the geofence.

As mentioned above, you can turn off the GPS icon at the top of your screen by moving the slider to the right of an app with a purple arrow from the right to the left.

Should I Turn Off Location Services for Apps if I Want to Get Rid of that Small Arrow on My iPhone?

Many people have concerns about their privacy, and want companies that collect data to know as little about them as possible.

Your location data provides these companies with a lot of information about where you are and what you do. If your primary concern is minimizing the information that these companies collect about you, then disabling location services for your apps can be beneficial.

But some of the apps that use your location can be very helpful, and without location data they are severely hindered in their ability to provide you with their service.

Essentially this is a question that you need to answer based on your own personal preferences. If you enjoy the convenience of the apps that utilize your location, then sharing that information is a necessary evil. But if you can use the non-location based features of these apps and still get enjoyment and utility from them, then disabling location services may be the right choice.

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