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Old 07-01-2013, 07:19 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,345 posts, read 83,917,082 times
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Scanned through this thread

Cell Phone Tracking

but couldn't find what I was looking for.

My question is, can my position be determined on my smartphone google maps (or Navigation) if my GPS is OFF? I think it was being determined the other day. My GPS was OFF, and it looked like my position was tracking as a drove on the freeway. I eventually turned my GPS ON and I continued driving. But later I wondered how it was apparently tracking with GPS OFF.

Was it cell tower triangulation? Something else? Or, was I simply mistaken and my position can not be determined with GPS OFF?
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:31 PM
 
Location: 92037
4,631 posts, read 9,005,267 times
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What phone do you have and what network?
For example Android devices have several options for getting your position.
One way is the standalone GPS chip, the other, exactly like you were saying, cellular triangulation.
You can shut both on/off in the settings menu.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,345 posts, read 83,917,082 times
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I have a Samsung Galaxy Note using AT&T in Southern California. I was heading north on the 5 in San Clemente.

How would I shut off cellular triangulation?
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Ocala, FL
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I don't think you can stop it unless the phone was physically turned off. Are you worried someone is following you ???
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
11,825 posts, read 13,964,257 times
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Yea, I think you are being WAY to paranoid.
NO you CANNOT turn off Cell Tower Triangulation. Your phone uses this to determine which tower it needs to use. You may as well just turn your phone off.

Has someone besides you had access to your phone? Because that is really the only way that software can be put onto your phone without your knowledge that will allow you to be tracked...
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:38 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,345 posts, read 83,917,082 times
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No, not paranoid, just interested for fun. So, does that mean my position is updated on google maps (or navigation) using the triangulation data when GPS is OFF?

I wonder how much less accurate it is.
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:49 AM
 
Location: Wandering.
3,545 posts, read 5,680,204 times
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You can disable location services in Android (at least with JB) from Settings / Location access. The phone will still know where it is, but won't report the location to any app.

Android has three methods of getting the phone location: GPS, Verizon location (on my Verizon phone, assuming it's called something similar on other carriers), and Google Wi-Fi & Mobile network (that uses known locations of towers and WiFi to guess at location). GPS is the most accurate (referred to as Fine Location in the SDK), but the others do a decent job.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:14 PM
 
Location: 92037
4,631 posts, read 9,005,267 times
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Charles,

You have a Samsung device running the TouchWiz interface. Basically its a dumbed down 'skin' of the existing native UI that Android has. I cant stand it personally, but I can understand why you are not seeing the same options in GPS settings myself or Skunk were mentioning. For you its merely, "On/Off" for the GPS.

Really the only way you will not be tracked on the app is to disable location services access for the app that you are using which tracks you. Typically when you first start an app and location is off, you will get a message to the effect of 'location needs to be on' to work, or else the app closes or you go back and change the setting.

As Perregrine mentioned, you just cant turn it off. Cellular triangulation is how the network hands off from one tower to another, so its there no matter what you do. However, at the app level, this is a permission you give to the app when first starting up.

The only way to make it ask you again for permissions is to clear the data from the apps which is done from the settings menu>Apps> select app> clear data.

Ultimately, I am not entirely certain what the point of this is and it really solves nothing, because the phone is going to do it no matter what.
I think it does sound a little paranoid because really its more for your piece of mind than it is stopping whatever you think is tracking from happening. The background process of what the phones inherently do when connected to a network of any kind.

As I mentioned in another thread, from a 20,000 sq ft look down at my daily life, its quite boring. I do fairly mundane 'everyday' things in life (go to restaurants, shopping, office, business meetings, gas station, help old ladies cross the street.)
Go ahead and track me, I cant possibly think of anything special about my activities.

What are your reasons besides some level of piece of mind which in reality does nothing because the phone is doing it anyway?
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
31,146 posts, read 50,309,418 times
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As I understand it, all digital cellphones have an internal GPS function. You may be able to turn 'off' the GPS display and functionality for other apps. But the GPS itself is still operating, and may still attach a Lat/Lon header to each data packet it transmits.

GPS 'off' means that it will not display to it's user.

'Triangulation' is a different topic. There was work done to refine true triangulation, but it did not mature. What we have today is not actual triangulation. Actual triangulation requires a lot of computer cycles to perform the math. Cell phones ping towers to determine which one has the strongest signal, will always happen.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,345 posts, read 83,917,082 times
Reputation: 17566
Quote:
Originally Posted by shmoov_groovzsd View Post
Charles,

You have a Samsung device running the TouchWiz interface. Basically its a dumbed down 'skin' of the existing native UI that Android has. I cant stand it personally, but I can understand why you are not seeing the same options in GPS settings myself or Skunk were mentioning. For you its merely, "On/Off" for the GPS.

Really the only way you will not be tracked on the app is to disable location services access for the app that you are using which tracks you. Typically when you first start an app and location is off, you will get a message to the effect of 'location needs to be on' to work, or else the app closes or you go back and change the setting.

As Perregrine mentioned, you just cant turn it off. Cellular triangulation is how the network hands off from one tower to another, so its there no matter what you do. However, at the app level, this is a permission you give to the app when first starting up.

The only way to make it ask you again for permissions is to clear the data from the apps which is done from the settings menu>Apps> select app> clear data.

Ultimately, I am not entirely certain what the point of this is and it really solves nothing, because the phone is going to do it no matter what.
I think it does sound a little paranoid because really its more for your piece of mind than it is stopping whatever you think is tracking from happening. The background process of what the phones inherently do when connected to a network of any kind.

As I mentioned in another thread, from a 20,000 sq ft look down at my daily life, its quite boring. I do fairly mundane 'everyday' things in life (go to restaurants, shopping, office, business meetings, gas station, help old ladies cross the street.)
Go ahead and track me, I cant possibly think of anything special about my activities.

What are your reasons besides some level of piece of mind which in reality does nothing because the phone is doing it anyway?
I don't know why people think i am worried about being tracked. This thread is not of that flavor.

I am simply asking if I can see my position on google maps or navigation or whatever mapping program while GPS is OFF. It seems I could; I just want to know if the location information is provided to the mapping tool via some other source besides GPS. That's it. It sounds like it is via cell triangulation. I am just interested in this for the sake of technical interest. My next questions would be how much less accurate is the triangulation method of determining position than the GPS is?

in other words, if GPS is off, how accurate is my position on Google Maps? Are we talking 50 feet, 500 feet. one mile?
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