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Leveraging Location with Android Q and iOS 13 Permission Flows

In this post we will introduce the upcoming changes in requesting location permission and cover best practices that brands are applying to maximize transparency, sense of control, and opt-in rates. 


  • Brands are able to provide individualized experiences that users have come to expect and rely on by leveraging smartphone sensory data, especially location.
  • Abuse of location data by app publishers that don’t provide direct consumer value, like in the AdTech space, has driven Google and Apple to modify the location permission request flows. These new flows are designed to improve end-user control and transparency.
  • Brands that already follow best practices for requesting location permission and those that use it to add value to their customers will be minimally impacted. Brands that are unable to tie the specific location request to end-user value will have a more difficult time adapting to the new permission flows.
  • Android Q introduces background location reminders that resemble those existing in iOS 12.
  • iOS 13 gives end users the ability to grant location permissions “Just Once” and modifies the existing “Always” location reminder experience.
  • Brands are reacting to these changes by updating their introductory location permission “primer” screens.
  • Best practices for requesting consumer consent remain the same: issue the request in context, convey clear consumer value, and be transparent.


Since the early days of mobile, the idea of delivering contextually relevant consumer experiences was a key focus of both Google and Apple. Both operating system platforms made data from smartphone sensors easily accessible to app developers, who in turn leveraged it to create compelling experiences that have become part of our day-to-day lives.

Brands are able to deliver the in-app experiences we have grown to love, such as ordering food, requesting a ride, or finding the top running trails nearby by using this smartphone sensory data in an intelligent way.

The gatekeeper of smartphone sensory data is the consumer-facing location permission prompt. This post will focus on the best practices for requesting access to location in your mobile application in light of the upcoming changes in Android Q and iOS 13.

What is changing? (And why?) 

Real-world data and location services have mainly been used to help brands better serve their customers, but monetization practices that use this data have become more prevalent.

The increase in abuse has led both Google and Apple to slightly modify the location permission request experience. These changes will:

  • Increase end-user transparency
  • Empower end users with more control 

These changes will be released this fall as part of iOS 13 and Android Q.

What does this mean for your brand?

These changes have not yet been implemented, and we have yet to see real numbers. It is clear, however, that these changes will mainly affect brands that request location permission without effectively communicating and providing consumer value.

It’s safe to assume that mobile applications that are used on a daily basis, such as ride sharing, food delivery, health and fitness apps and others that clearly communicate and deliver their value to consumers, are likely to be impacted only marginally.

Changes in Android Q

Android Q primarily adopts the location permission flow of iOS 12 by introducing two changes:

Photo credit: Google

1) Background Location Permission 

Currently, all Android operating systems have one permission request for location data. Android Q adds a separate request for allowing apps access to location data in the background.

ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION allows an app to always access location and other sensors. If you’re requesting this permission, you must also request either ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION or ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION – just like today.

If your app was already granted consent for location in Android 9 or lower, it will automatically be included with the OS upgrade without prompting the user to provide consent once again.



Target SDK versionCoarse or finepermission granted?Background permissiondefined in manifest?Updated default permission state
Android QYesYesForeground and background access
Android QYesNoForeground access only
Android QNo(Ignored by system)No access
Android 9 or lowerYesAutomatically added by the system at  upgrade timeForeground and background access
Android 9 or lowerNo(Ignored by system)No access


Photo credit: Google

2) Location Access Reminder

If a user grants access to background location, a notification will be pushed to the user after a few days, reminding them that the app may always access their location.

Most app publishers are already familiar with these reminders because of iOS 12. In iOS, publishers used contextual primer screens to communicate the added value consumers would experience if they granted location permission. These user flows required constant optimization in order to maximize conversion, so in order to save time and effort, Neura recommends replicating your optimized iOS experience and implementing it into your Android app once the OS updates to Android Q. 



Changes in iOS 13

iOS 13 will introduce three changes that are designed to empower end users with more transparency and control. 

1) “Allow Once” Location Access 

Photo credit: Apple

Up until iOS 12, Apple had two types of permissions: background Always and foreground When-In-Use. A third permission is being added in iOS 13, which allows end users to Allow Once. “Allow once” will grant an app the ability to utilize the When-In-Use permission for that one session. The permission will be revoked at the end of the session, and the end user will be prompted again on the next session.

While this change has yet to take effect, Neura believes that this change will impact user behavior in the following ways:

1. Smaller percentage of users hitting “Don’t Allow”

Users who do not wish to commit to always granting the app location access will now have the flexibility to enable it one time. This gives them the opportunity to experience the added value of granting location access to the app. 

2. A less immediate but eventual increase in the number of users hitting “Allow while using the app” or “Always”

No one likes to answer “Allow Once” over and over again. Users who do so and appreciate the value of enabling location will eventually opt for When-In-Use or Always.

2) Two-Step Background Permission Request

One of the most effective methods for requesting the Always location permission, already proven successful in iOS 11 and iOS 12, is a two-step background permission request. The idea behind this flow is to allow users to experience the value of contextual features in the app before prompting for “Allow Always” access to location.

Photo credit: Rakuten


Photo credit: Apple

Apple embraces this best practice. With iOS 13, the prompt for the “Always” permission will only appear if the user has already given location consent for When-In-Use.

When app publishers request the Always permission, the user will first be prompted with the When-In-Use and the Allow Once options. The operating system will then grant the app with a provisional Always permission and automatically prompt the user for a non-provisional “Always” location access later on.







3) Enhanced Location Access Reminders

Photo credit: Apple

In iOS 13, Apple will enhance the location access reminders you’ve become familiar with from iOS 12 to include a map that provides users with transparency into the locations that are shared with the app that’s requesting the permission.

Just as in previous versions of the operating system, the usage description section of this prompt is customizable and allows brands to communicate the value they offer users.








Optimizing how you request location permission in iOS 13 and Android Q

When requesting permissions properly, even the most privacy-oriented Neura customers see location opt-in rates of 60% – 90%.

The best practices for requesting consumer consent remain the same: 

  • Ask for permissions in context – Users are more likely to allow access if asked in the context of a relevant task.
  • Convey clear consumer value – Make sure your permission “primer” screen is clear, legible, and compelling. Keep the same tone of voice and value proposition in the location access reminders of iOS 13. 
  • Be transparent – Concisely explain why background access is important for the user experience. 

In light of these changes, it’s imperative that brands work to tweak and optimize their location permission flow, primer screens, and on-boarding experiences to align with the new operating system behaviors. If you wish to learn more or would like help preparing for these upcoming OS updates, we’re here to help.