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This is how apps track your location

Your smartphone can pinpoint your location by triangulating the signals from cell towers, Wi-Fi hotspots and GPS satellites.

By Aymeric DelaplacePublished 11 months ago • 5 min read
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This is how apps track your location
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

There are different ways apps can track your location. When it comes to privacy, this is a controversial topic. Some people like the fact that apps can identify venues and places they go to or have visited while others don't like the idea of all their movements being tracked. To find out more about how apps track location, continue reading.

Have you ever opened an app and been asked if it can access your location? maybe you've even said yes without thinking it through.

If you've ever opened an app and been asked if it can access your location, you've probably said yes without thinking it through. But apps are tracking your location and the information they share with third parties for a variety of reasons. This data can be used for marketing purposes or even sold to advertisers.

The good news is that most apps don't need your location to work properly — only around 1 in 10 apps use it at all. And there are ways to control how apps track your location, like turning off geolocation permissions or using a VPN service like NordVPN, which masks your IP address and hides where you're connecting from.

Apps track your location for many reasons There are lots of reasons why an app might want to know where you are. For example: Marketing: Companies can use this information to target ads at specific users based on their location, interests or demographics (like if they're visiting a shopping center).

This is especially true if they have permission to access other information like your name and email address (which they usually do). Sharing: Some apps will allow friends or family members to see where you are so they know when it's safe for them to call or text you back.

If you declined the app's request to access your location, you can still be tracked.

When you use a smartphone or tablet, apps can access your location. This is how apps track your location. If you declined the app's request to access your location, you can still be tracked. This is because many apps use the locations of nearby Wi-Fi networks and cell towers to approximate where you are.

It's called "proximity detection." This can be a problem if someone is using your device without permission, such as a thief or family member. And it can also be problematic if an app wants to know where you are but doesn't have permission to do so. Apps that use proximity detection don't ask for permission first — in fact, they can't ask for permission because they don't have any idea what device they're installing on until after it's installed.

So instead, they track devices based on their unique identifiers (such as the IMEI number) and try to guess which one is yours.

Your phone's camera and microphone can also be used to track you.

When you use an app on your phone, it can access information about your location. This is usually because the app needs to know where you are in order to provide a service. For example, if you're using an app that shows nearby restaurants, it will show you restaurants that are near your current location.

Some apps don't have a specific reason for needing to know where you are. Rather, they collect data about where you go so that they can build up a profile of your behavior over time and use this information for advertising purposes. All apps that use your location need permission from you before they can do so.

But often these permissions are buried deep within an app's terms and conditions or privacy policy — and most people never read these documents carefully enough to understand what they're agreeing to when they install an app. Here are some of the ways in which apps can track your location: Your phone's camera and microphone can be used as tracking devices by certain apps.

These apps can use either one or both of these devices to determine where you are based on what's visible in front of them (such as street signs) or what sounds they hear (such as traffic noises).

The data is valuable to advertisers and retailers.

If you're like most people, you probably don't realize how often apps are tracking your location. It's a common practice and apps like Google Maps, Uber and Snapchat use it to provide services and make money. But it can also be a privacy concern. Here's how apps track your location: Apps on your phone can access your phone's location when you give them permission.

Most of us have given at least some apps this permission without even thinking about it. For example, if you want to use location-based services like Google Maps or Uber, you need to give those apps access to your location data. Apps can also request permissions for more specific information about where you are.

For example, if you're using Instagram Stories to share where you are, the app will ask for access to your device's camera so that it can take pictures of what's going on around you.

All in All...

Android devices create a unique advertising ID for your device, which is used to tailor ads to your interests. This advertising ID is generated from several data points, but the most important is what's called a MAC address, which is linked to the hardware in your device and cannot be changed or faked.

When you download a free or paid app from the Google Play Store, it asks for access to your device's microphone and location information, but this is not permanent access. The app will only be able to use your microphone while the app is running and only your location while the app is open.

When you close out of an app, this permission will not carry over into a separate session unless you open it again. If you've disabled automatic date/time detection using either Wi-Fi + Cellular Data or Location Services (or both) on your phone, location services provided by apps will work in the background of your device to give you location information without having to actively check every five minutes.

It should also be noted that all apps are not created equal. This means that you'll want to consider an app's permissions when doing an install or update; if there's one that looks fishy, it might be better to avoid it altogether.

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About the Creator

Aymeric Delaplace

💬 Hello, I'm Aymeric 📱. 👋 I write about apps, software and businesses for kids for publications like TechCrunch 🌟. 🤔Have a question? DM me on Twitter or e-mail my email address. 👈❤️

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