Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Android really, really wants to know where you are

This is creepy:
Security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam reported on Twitter that he "almost had a heart attack" when he walked into a McDonald's and was prompted on his phone to download the fast food restaurant's app. 
Al-Bassam dug into his phone's apps to figure out how that had happened, and was amazed to find that his suspected culprit – Google Maps – was not responsible. It was Google Play that had monitored his location thousands of times. 
Again, this is deliberate: Google is using your location to tout apps to you. If you wander into a pharmacy, you'll be offered software to print your photos, for example. 
If you're not keen on this, the options are not great: you can either delete Google Maps and/or Google Play, or you have to repeatedly turn your phone's location services on and off as required throughout the day, which is extremely irritating. 
"Kind of defeats the purpose of fine-grained privacy controls," Al-Bassam noted, adding: "Google is encouraging developers to use the Play location API instead of the native Android API, making an open OS dependent on proprietary software."
I just turned off location services.


UK Houston said...

Turning off location services makes the Google Apps really, really angry.
You will see a popup suggesting you activate location services in Google Maps pretty much every time you want to do anything.
It will require big determination on your part to stay the course.

Old NFO said...

I seldom turn on location and yes, Google Maps rags me about it... :-)

Guffaw in AZ said...

Yeah, it's disturbing alright!
I think the only real solution is to go off the grid.
But, now that I'm addicted...
(Which was their plan all along)


burt said...

It ain't just Android. Have you used an iPhone lately? Or any laptop at a Starbucks?

Marketing. It's all about marketing.

Turn off location services or "root" your Android phone and disable the location services library.

If you're still using a phone that you got "free" from a cell provider (e.g. Verizon, TMobile, ATT, etc), there's a bunch of crapware that tracks everything you do. Compared to the crapware, location services is relatively benign.

matism said...

I suspect that my LG A380 flip phone from AT&T does much tracking of me, burt.

Of course, if I had a smarter phone, that would probably change.

B said...

Sorry having location privacy is "irritating".

It is a choice we make. You really don't NEED Google Maps. You CHOOSE to pay the price of the loss of privacy. Or you CHOOSE to turn your GPS receiver on and off as needed.

What a whiner.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Having "My Location" turned on kept interfering with my tablet's wireless/LTE reception, so I have it off permanently, since I do most of my tablet stuff via LTE.
Reading Android forums, this was apparently a well known bug.

Ruth said...

Location is always off on my phone. I only turn it on if I need driving directions, and then it gets turned back off as soon as I'm at my destination.