There’s still a lot of talk and concern about cell phones obtaining your location along with what’s being done with it. If you have an iPhone, then you have reason for concern. If you are an Android owner, the situation is really a non-issue.
Let’s start with how the whole ‘I’ve got your location now I’m going to stalk you’ senario arose. The iPhone had a “bug” that cached the wi-fi locations. We call it a “bug” because it was a feature that actually improved performance. But why is Android a non-issue?
When you first set up your Android phone, you were asked if you wanted to enable location tracking for which you could decline. However, if you don’t want to allow any app written by Google or a third party, simply go to Settings, Location and Security and uncheck the boxes Use wireless networks and uncheck Use GPS satellites.
If you’re concerned that apps are storing your location, after you perform these steps no app can track you. Therfore, the whole location tracking thing is a non-issue for Android.
Why location services are used
There are some nefarious individuals out there. But most developers are honest folk. So why do some apps ask for your location?
Some apps like Google Navigation, Places and Wine Country use location to enhance the experience of the app. These apps use your location to show points of interest and navigate you to them.
Additionally, developers spend lots of time coming up with app concepts, layouts, coding and testing. In return for not requesting money from you, developers display ads to compensate for keeping your cash in your pocket.
“What do ads have to do with my location?” you ask. To better target ads (AdMob and other ad agencies require at least coarse location – a.k.a. Use wireless networks – to display their ads). And that’s the only reason why it’s used in most cases. If you don’t have GPS turned on or wi-fi, it’s highly unlikely that anyone could find where you are as the phone is using cell towers to triangulate your position.
Here’s an experiment: Try levaing Use wireless networks turned on then open Google Maps. You’ll see that your location is blocks – maybe even miles – from where you really are.
So, what’s the real deal when it comes to Android and your location? In short, if you don’t want anyone tracking you, simply turn it off. That’s something iPhone won’t let you do. And that kind of flexibility is probably why you got an Android device in the first place.