How to change your location settings in Android


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

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.

(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.

by Phil Nickinson
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