How Does My Android Phone Know Where I Live and Work?

Published on August 31, 2016

If you’re anything like us here at Geek Chicago, you use your phone for just about everything – making calls, taking notes, using social media, and getting directions and guidance.

But while it can be comforting knowing that you’ve got an all-purpose tool in your pocket, it can be eerie, too – especially when your phone seems to know where you are or where you’re headed, even before you do.

So just how does your Android device know where you live and work?

Android Phone Knows Where I Work and LiveLike iOS devices, Android phones – which can also be thought of as those devices that primarily rely on Google services – track and record your location data and history via WiFi, GPS, and cell networks in order to provide information about your position to native apps and third-parties, like Google Maps, Google Now voice controls, Twitter, or Instagram.

In theory, this makes life easier – when your phone knows where you are, you won’t need to manually provide it with information each and every time you need directions or want to tag yourself in a social media post.

At the same time, though, it’s strange to think that Google is tracking your position constantly, and “periodically pinging Google's servers with the position of your Android phones and tablets — even when you're not actively using your devices,” as Ben Patterson writes over at PC World.

Fortunately, Google still seems to have a little of that “Don’t Be Evil” mentality left, and it’s impressively easy to opt in or out of location reporting and history on your Android phone.

Here’s how to take control of your location reporting and history on your Android device:

  1. Open up the “Apps” drawer and scroll down, select “Settings” (this isn't the only way, but seems to be consistent across Android handsets.)
  2. Find “Location” and tap it to open
  3. To turn off location tracking entirely, switch the “Location” slider to the “off” position
  4. To change the reporting method (in order to increase or decrease its precision), choose “Locating Method” and then toggle to “GPS Only”
  5. To turn off your history, choose the “Google Location History” tab under “Location Services,” then move the slider to “off” to stop caching
  6. You can also use “Location History” to manually delete locations you don’t want shared, or just press the “Delete Location History” button at the bottom of the screen to clear all

Two things to keep in mind: If you have multiple Google Accounts synced to your Android device, you may need to repeat steps 5 & 6 for each. The other thing to remember is that, if you turn off location reporting entirely, some of your apps may not work, or may frequently prompt you to turn on tracing or enter your location.

Despite Google’s occasional creepy moves, we do love Android devices here at Geek, and we love making sure our clients know how to make the most of their gadgets, from protecting their privacy to stretching out their battery life.

And while gadgets are our love, content marketing solutions - including email marketing, social media, blogging, and web development - are our real passion. Drop Geek a line to get the conversation started today!

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