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

How Does My Android Phone Know Where I Live and Work? Here's How to Disable This Feature (Source: Pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

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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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).