Google tracks your location — even when you deny it permission

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google fix cheeseburger emoji

Google is tracking your location — even when you tell it not to, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. The findings prove that many Google services on both Android and iPhones store location data regardless of whether privacy settings say otherwise. The AP’s report was originally confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton University. And now Google has acknowledged the practice.

The AP first started looking into the issue when K. Shankari, a graduate researcher from University of California, Berkeley, turned off her Location History on her Android device — but still received a notification asking to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s.

While Google does ask permission to use location information (such as requesting access for use in navigation), the issue lies within the Location History setting. Google’s support page states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored,” but the AP’s investigation found this to not be true.

The in-depth report includes a map that illustrates the commute of Gunes Acar, a Princeton privacy researcher. Even with “Location History” turned off on his Android phone, the map pinpoints exactly where he traveled and saves the data to his Google account.

Even if users “pause” Location History to keep the company from noting where they’ve been, the AP says “Google apps still automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.”  AP found that pausing it doesn’t keep the company from being able to store a snapshot whenever you open Maps, or pinpoint where you are when your Android device automatically updates to give you the weather.

A quick Google search for random items on your device apparently isn’t safe from tracking either. Even though your search isn’t related to location, it still allows the device to determine your location and save it to your Google account.

In response to the findings, Google issued a statement to the AP:

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

The tech giant says that users can turn off another setting called “Web and App Activity,” which is enabled on your device automatically. It’s a setting that stores information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

Turning it off will prevent Google from saving location markers, along with information based on your search and activity. But the AP also notes that turning this setting off could alter how effective Google Assistant is, which could greatly affect those who rely on it often.

Smart Home

Amazon Go, the checkout-free convenience store, opens in Chicago

Amazon's checkout-less convenience store, Amazon Go, is now open in Chicago. It's the first of the high-tech stores that allow people to grab items and go not located in the company's home city of Seattle.
Social Media

How to turn off Snapchat’s location-based Snap Map

Thanks to an opt-in feature added last year, Snapchat may be sharing your location with friends whenever you open it. Here, we'll walk you through how to turn off said feature off and regain some peace of mind.
Mobile

Google’s Family Link expands globally, now works on more devices

Google's Family Link app makes it easier for parents to keep track of their kids' smartphone usage. They can restrict them from downloading apps, see which services they use the most, and more. Here's everything you need to know.
Smart Home

OK, Google, what can you do? Tips and tricks for the Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Mobile

How to downgrade your iPhone or iPad from iOS 12 to iOS 11.4

Apple's iOS 12 may be the latest and greatest version of the mobile operating system, but perhaps it's not right for you right now. If that is the case, thankfully there are some ways to go back to iOS 11.4.
Mobile

Not sure about updating to iOS 12? Here are five reasons why you should

If you’re on the fence about whether to install iOS 12 or not, allow us to explain why the update is worthwhile. Here are five of our favorite features from Apple’s mobile platform.
Mobile

Mi 8 Pro looks like an iPhone, but has a feature Apple fans can only dream of

Xiaomi has launched two new phones in the Mi 8 family: The Mi 8 Pro and the Mi 8 Lite. Unlike the past models, these two are definitely going to be sold internationally. Here's what you need to know about them both.
Mobile

Google Maps is available on Apple CarPlay with iOS 12

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The new OS comes along with tons of new capabilities from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts, here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

Find out how Apple's new iPhones measure up to the most bezel-less designs

As the smartphone industry marches toward a bezel-less future, we compare the shrinking bezels on the latest and greatest devices. Find out which manufacturers have the smallest bezels on their smartphone as we measure them side by side.
Mobile

iOS 12's Siri Shortcuts help Apple close the digital assistant gap

Siri may be lagging behind the competition, but Apple is finally supercharging the digital assistant with Siri Shortcuts, which allows you to perform tasks quickly and easily. Here's how to use iOS 12's new Siri Shortcuts app.
Mobile

Apple iPhone XS vs. Samsung Galaxy S9: 2018’s biggest flagships clash

The iPhone XS has been revealed, and it's one of the best phones of the year. But even though it's Apple's latest and greatest, it's up against a lot of competition. Is the iPhone XS better than the Samsung Galaxy S9?
Mobile

Samsung exec confirms upcoming Galaxy S10 will sport 'very significant changes'

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Wearables

Just $100 buys you this super-tough — and very cool — G Shock fitness watch

Casio has announced a new Bluetooth-connected fitness watch in its G Shock line. The GBD-800 has an all-new digital display, fitness tracking technology, a classic G Shock look, and an attractive price.
Mobile

Here’s our list of the best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't just rely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with these picks for the best weather apps for the iPhone, including the best visuals and most comprehensive data.