Pro tip: Help save your battery Wi-Fi location

Jack Wallen shows how you can gain more battery life by losing location tracking accuracy.

Android location

Your Android device, if allowed, can continually keep track of your location by using its internal GPS system. That process can place a heavy drain on the battery. Fortunately, the developers of Android thought of this and included a way to track your location without draining your battery. Instead of depending on the GPS system, Android can use Wi-Fi for location detection. This means your phone will only truly know its location when it's connected to a wireless network. Given the pros and cons, I'm fairly certain most would prefer the extended battery life over having an exact location at all times.

But how do you configure your Android smartphone for this? Open up the Settings app and go to Location. In this window, you 'll find an entry called Mode. Tap that to reveal an overlay (Figure A) asking you to select from:

  • High Accuracy: This is the battery draining culprit, as it uses GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks to determine your location. As the name implies, this is the most accurate form of location tracking for your device. If precision location is critical for your device usage, leave this option enabled.
  • Battery saving: This option drops the GPS and uses only Wi-Fi and mobile networks to determine location. For most users, this will be the most optimal choice for saving your battery.
  • Device only: This option only uses GPS for determining location. This will use less battery than High Accuracy, but more than Battery saving. This option is also more reliable (for accuracy) than the Battery saving option (but not as accurate as High Accuracy).

Figure A

Figure A
Changing location accuracy on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.

Tap Battery Saving to drop GPS from location detection. You should now enjoy much more battery life from your Android device.

Does your job require higher location accuracy or more battery life? On a security level, should there be some concern to constant, accurate device tracking? What are your thoughts?