Android location

Sometimes it's best to hide your location in Android

ACU- SecurityWhen 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

Camera GPS

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 location

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.)


Reader comments

How to change your location settings in Android


I have been trying to find the right setting for my location.. GPS only seems to be the best for me. When I put the high accuracy on, it drained the crap out of my battery.. I haven't tried the power saving one might give that one a try..

It's not the setting that's draining your battery, it's the apps you have running that are making excessive use of location services in the background.

It would wonderful if Android allowed granular control of which apps could access any kind of location information. Right now as I understand it (someone please clarify if this isn't wholly accurate), the only way to prevent a specific app from accessing Location Services is to not install the app at all.

Sometimes it's best to hide your location in Android

Especially on a Sunday afternoon during football/hockey season


I wasn't sure how to take your comments :) Do you kind your location to avoid being disturbed or to show yourself as being "at the office" during the big game? That's honestly how I took it.

However, I cut the cord recently because I just wasn't watching enough to justify the price. However, I am lucky to have relatives that rarely stream anything but don't mind if I borrow their logins.

The WATCH ABC app allows full streaming of real-time ABC programming but the feature is only available in certain US markets.

It took me awhile to play around with the settings, but after downloading a GPS spoofer and changing my phone's location to Los Angeles, I was able to enjoy the Spurs-Heat series earlier this summer.

No one is more curious than I am to see how Verizon will implement their new NFL Mobile app, now that they will be able to show CBS and Fox Sunday afternoon games.

I have a couple reliable VPN apps and my GPS spoofer. As a lifelong Bears fan, my phone may be spending a lot of Sunday afternoons in Chicago this year..

For those of us with phones with Developer options in Android like Nexus or Samsung and Motorola, we can go into developer options and spoof your GPS data as well showing you in some other location than the one you are actually in.

It's truly amazing that it was the ABSOLUTE GENIUS Rene Descartes who created the beautiful X-Y ( Cartesian) Coordinate Plane in Analytic Geometry that IS the foundation for Longitude/Latitude and GPS positioning devices...

The GPS location is just a modern day computerized version of the X-Y plane that you encounter in Analytic Geometry... you probably first saw this in Algebra 1... Before GPS, it was used to express locations on say a globe ( or map) of earth locating a place that was expressed in terms of Longitude ( X coordinate) & Latitude (Y coordinate) on the (Cartesian) Coordinate Plane...Very beautiful stuff!

Yes, the day the SHTP or the zombie apocalypse takes over there's gonna be a whole bunch of people who don't know how to use a map or determine their location (much less east for west).

Or maybe I've just been watching too much Walking Dead... ;p

You appear to be pretty knowledgeable about these things and since I can't locate an answer to my ? I thought I'd pop in here & ask you - aren't you the lucky one? How do I Shut off the 4G on my new Samsung s4? I just received notice from Verizon that I had used over 3gb in less than 10 has to be staying on while I'm home on wifi because I seldom leave my home.

Can you please help me? I'm on a fixed income & can't afford to raise my data plan!

Posted via the Android Central App

No it isn't. A cartesian plane would have consistent X-Y distance values. Latitude and Longitude are ANGLES, not distances! You never noticed that they tend to be expressed in degrees?!?

Maybe you live close to the equator? :)

Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)

Anyone know how to turn off the dialog box popup that occurs everytime I enable GPS on my Galaxy S5? I used high accuracy, and I think it's a "location consent" for Google to collect anonymous data. Why can't it remember my choice?

Posted via Android Central App

So, how about this dilemma. I live overseas (in Hong Kong and Thailand) but also spend some time back in the UK. Since I'm in Thailand most of the time I have that set within Google as my home. However, visiting the UK this month really wanted to buy a couple of Nexus 5's for the kids, delivered to a UK address. Play Store wouldn't show any hardware options, I guess because no hardware is sold in Thailand. Tried the mobile and main site, but no joy. Ended up having to purchase from Amazon. How to quickly change home settings and have the Play Store react accordingly? Possible? So confusing the way Google treats locations and language. I often get info/ads delivered in Chinese, just because I'm there even though surely by now Google knows enough about me to deliver material to me in English. It seems their Location Services have a long way to go for a 'nomad' like me that travels so much....

They can use your IP address to guess your location. Then your Google account has an address. Then your credit card also has an address.

You're almost certainly better off buying on Amazon UK and getting the units delivered to a friend's house in the UK for you to collect.

I was under the same impression and have been for a while now.

Learn something new all the time.


Posted via Android Central App

It's only logical if you think about it, employing ONLY the GPS each and every time takes up more power than also using data from connections that are ALREADY active (3G/Wi-Fi)... Phone isn't doing much extra work in order to use the latter, not compared to listening for a satellite in the planet's atmosphere. ;)

I read a lot and expereinced myself several times droids using also non-gps location tracking with network(s) causes a lot of wakelocks. Wakelocks gone when set device gps only. A 1second wakelock drains a lot more battery than 1 second
Posted via Android Central App

If you want to mark an important location (e.g. remember where you parked), it's probably best to use GPS only; due to the imprecision of cell towers and wifi AP locations, your marked location might be otherwise skewed.

Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)

Is anyone else as annoyed as me with the new location settings menu? I just want to toggle between high accuracy and power saving. GPS only is worthless. I am sick of a swipe and a fee clicks to change location settings. I just want one touch control. Is that too frickin complicated?

If you don't want the Location Consent, you'll need to root your device.

Posted via Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2)

Can't find: Android Central App on my HP TouchPad (Schizoid PAC-ROM 4.2.2).
Would you please provide a link to it or some details.

Hey, I've got a question. What do I do if I want my phone to show my location(to catch a taxi etc.) But google location service doesn't work in China, where I'm staying at the moment. Maybe it'll sound stupid for you, but I couldn't figure out what to do by myself. Sorry for bad English