Sometimes it's best to hide your location in Android
When you first set up your Android smartphone you'll be asked about location services, and whether you want the phone to use them. Google has its own services, and sometimes your carrier will have its own that you'll need to approve as well.
That's just part of the deal, though. There actually are a few other options for location services in Android. And they can all affect your security.
Let's take a quick look.
Photos and GPS tagging
This is one of those settings that ends up being a cautionary tale on Facebook every now and then. But it's also a setting that you need to be consciously aware of.
Smartphones give you the ability to attache a location — GPS coordinates, actually — to the pictures you take. That lets you do cool things like arrange pictures in albums by location, or it lets Google+ stitch together "stories" of your trips. Geo-locating images in and of itself is not a bad thing. But where you can get into trouble is when you broadcast sensitive locations to the world. A picture like "Look at this really expensive thing I just bought" that has the location of your house attached to it probably isn't a good idea.
Some apps have the ability to turn off location for specific shares. But if you want to control geo-locating photos wholesale, you'll find an on/off toggle in your camera settings. Or you can go into the main Android location settings (look for it in Settings>Location). From there you can decide if you want location saved along with your images.
(Another option is to download an EXIF editor and manually remove the location information from specific images.)
Setting your location mode
Android actually has three discrete settings for location. You can find them also at Settings>Location. Here's where you set how accurate you want location reporting to be. In addition to the obvious ramifications of an app knowing exactly where you are, there's also the matter of battery life. Here's how it breaks down:
- High accuracy: This uses the GPS radio in your phone to get its exact location from satellites, and it also uses nearby Wifi and cellular networks.
- Battery saving: This mode only uses Wifi networks and mobile networks to get its fix. It won't be as accurate, but it'll help your phone last longer.
- Device sensors only: This only uses the GPS radio to find you. It may take a little more time to get its fix, because it's not using nearby Wifi and mobile networks to get your general location first. It also will use more battery.
Or just nuke the whole thing
If you want to disappear completely — OK, not completely, but you know what we mean — you can simply turn off location services in this same section. When you turn turn them back on, you should be given the warnings all over again, just so you're aware of what you're doing. (There's nothing inherently dangerous here — your phone just wants to make sure you're well-informed.)