Location tracking can sometimes come in hand, for instance, when an application can find nearby restaurants or gas stations by using the function. However, it is also a huge privacy issue.
If you want all your wanderings to be registered by Google or Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘minions,’ feel free to ignore this post. However, if you are not comfortable knowing these entities have access and monitor you through your smartphone, this article provides you with the necessary information to stop location tracking on your Android phone and how to delete your location history from your operating system.
As always, keep in mind that versions of Android can differ, and many manufacturers also use overlays, which can change the locations of several commands. Still, they should be sufficiently similar for you to be able to find the settings and carry out the process. For these instructions, we used a Google Pixel phone powered by Android 10.
Stop Google from Tracking You
You may already know that Google is tracking your location and movements via its Google Maps app. However, you may not know that your Android phone is also tracking your activities through numerous built-in apps.
If you don’t want your smartphone to be tracking any of your movements and wanderings, there is a method you can use to disable the tracking function for most of them. You just need to be aware that this is going to probably render some of your apps, such as weather apps, mapping apps, and ride-share apps less usable.
Stop Google Tracking Using a Browser
To stop Google track you, you can use a browser by following those simple steps:
- Go to https://myactivity.google.com/
- Tap on the ‘Activity Controls,’ option from the left-hand menu
- Scroll down and choose what activities you’d like to turn off
Activities listed that would track your location include ‘Web & App Activity’ and ‘Location History.’ You’ll probably also want to disable the ‘Include audio recordings’ option, which you can find under ‘Web & App Activity.’
As long as you’re here, you can also remove ‘Device Information’ – which collects data about contacts, calendars, notes, and so on – ‘YouTube History’ – which includes your search and watch history – and ‘Ad personalization’ option, which uses your whole history to throw ads at you.
You’ve now prevented any more information about you to be collected. However, you may also want to delete all or at least some of the data that’s already been gathered by Google.
- Go back to the ‘My Activity’ page and select the ‘Delete activity by’ option in the left-hand menu
- A pop-up window that allows you to delete your activity based on time period will appear: the last hour, last day, ‘All time’, or ‘Custom range’ for a specific date range
- When you’re ready, click on ‘Next’ and you’ll get a preview of some of the activities you’re about to remove
- Select ‘Delete’
Stop Google Tracking on an Android Device
- Go to the settings menu, find the ‘Accounts’ section, and tap on your Google email account. If you have more than one account, tap on the one you want to change
- Tap on ‘Google Account’ and scroll down to ‘Manage your data & personalization’
- Look under ‘Activity controls’ and turn off or pause the tracking of multiple activities
Stop Location Tracking on Android Devices
If you only want your phone to stop recording all your activities, carefully follow the steps below:
- Get to the Quick Settings menu and long-press on the Location icon
- Find the ‘Use location’ feature at the top and turn it off
That wouldn’t be it, however. What is meant by ‘Use location’ in Android devices varies on which sensors are following the location of the smartphone – besides GPS, it could be Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and so on.
So before you leave the ‘Location’ page, tap on the ‘Advanced’ option, and you’ll find four categories there.
Google Emergency Location Service registers where you are and sends the location to emergency services. However, even if you disable this option, the mobile carrier may still share your location during an emergency call.
The second category, Google Location Accuracy, uses Wi-Fi and other services to track your location, while the third, Google Location History, only allows you to pause the device’s collection of your location history. Finally, Google Location Sharing collects all your shared location data.
But wait, there’s more!
On the Location page, select the ‘Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning’ link, and turn off the apps and services that appear here, which scan for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks and collects your information this way.
Although you can turn off location tracking from your Android device’s settings, once a service has gathered your information, deleting that history takes a bit of work. If you want to proceed with this step, the first place you need to go is Google, and then apps that collect this kind of data, such as Facebook and Twitter – instructions which we will share soon, so stay tuned.