Android

Pro tip: Turn off location reporting for more privacy

If you're looking to gain even more privacy from/for your Android smartphone, Jack Wallen shows you how (and why) you might want to turn off location reporting.

Location reporting

Thanks to some incredible GPS technology, your phone knows where you go. This is by design, as many features of modern smartphones require the tracking of your location. But if you're one of those users who take privacy seriously, the idea of a device tracking everywhere you go might not sit well. This is especially true when you take a look at your Google Location History (while logged into your Google account). With this tool, you can track where you've been by calendar date. Again, for some users, this is not acceptable. In certain circumstances, it could open a door to danger.

If you don't want to hand over a map of your location history, there is a solution — shutting off location reporting. Of course, you do this knowing that you lose certain functionality. For example, using Google Maps will not be nearly as easy (though you can turn this feature back on to use Maps).

Understand that this is all opt-in. So, if your location is being tracked, it's because you initially gave Google the big OK. Any time you install a new app that requires using location, you are prompted to share location data. If you say "yes" to this, your location data will be dumped into a database.

Let's stop that feature from working, shall we? To do so, you must visit two features:

  • Location reporting: The feature that gives apps access to your location
  • Location history: The feature that keeps track of precisely where you've been

Here's how to disable these:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Find the Location entry
  3. Tap Google Location Reporting
  4. Tap Location reporting
  5. Tap the ON button (Figure A) until it reads OFF
  6. Go back to Google Location Settings
  7. Tap Location History
  8. Tap the ON button until it reads OFF

Figure A

Figure A

Shutting off location reporting on a Verizon-branded LG G3.

That's it. Your phone will no longer keep track of your location. Of course, if you want/need location reporting back on, you can reverse this process.

What do you think? Is the Google Location History tool a bit much — or is it a handy feature that you rely upon? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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