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Old September 13th, 2009, 03:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Using Wireless Networks For Location

The phone won't let me enable using wireless networks for determining location unless I consent that this data is sent to Google. Now I'm confused: was this always like this or is it new in this firmware? I think I remember using this service from Google without agreeing to data collection by them.

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Old September 13th, 2009, 03:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Another question related to positioning. Where is the GPS antenna located in the device? When attempting to get GPS signal should the device be horizontal or vertical?
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Old September 13th, 2009, 03:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi,
I believe it's always been like this ... Google won't play with you unless you sell out.

About the GPS, I don't know where it is located, but my experience (with the Galaxy) is that a clear view of the sky is much more important than how you position it. I have had equal success by standing it on end, placing it flat on a table, and, yes, placing it backside-up.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 09:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I believe you've always had to tell them, effectively you're asking google where the public IP is - and that means they need to know information about your IP.

Because there are potentially over 4 billion IPs on IPv4 and IPs can move, it's not really practical for the phone to keep a record of where they all are

That said, it's kinda annoying that google ask you once when you setup your phone can google track you, and there's no way to remove it afterwards

I don't recall the phone asking me the first time on the G4 firmware, but I know it did on both the H2 and H7 firmwares... It's possible it never asked you the first time but did it anyway... Maybe the earlier firmware was buggy and had accepted for you already.

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Old September 14th, 2009, 01:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeToo View Post
I believe you've always had to tell them, effectively you're asking google where the public IP is [...]
I don't think they're doing the "coarse position" with IP address resolution (a lot of them would be "192.168.1.x"...) -- they're triangulating GSM masts. That also explains the sometimes very jittery location (esp. in games like PK).
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Old September 15th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm sure they don't use your network IP, they probably run it through an IP tracker to get the IP your ISP assigned to you, then they run it through a database or something to approximate your position.

I don't like all this big brother surveillance crap...
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Old September 16th, 2009, 03:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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It is quite easy to get confused with the various location detection methods. And there are reasons why some of them send information to google..

First, lets cover the 3 types of location detection:
  • Wi-Fi based
  • Network Cell based
  • GPS based

Wi-Fi based is the least accurate (well, it can get pretty accurate if trained properly). It's based on information that is given out to the network by your IP address. This is the one that needs to send data to google to figure out where you are. In theory the IP address given to you is sent to google and google then figures out from the address your general location. The location can also be wrong, for my home network it's generally some 300km wrong... NAT doesn't help this process. Computers behind a NAT connection are detected as coming from a single point, which is the location of the IP address that is visible to the rest of the world. I'm assuming google has arranged for an internal locator for large operators that do large scale NAT, so that they can actually see the location from inside the network. But in the end, this is just a guess.

GSM network based location doesn't need a connection to google. The way this works is that each tower has an identifier and the phone is able to calculate a general location based on it's relation to neighboring towers. This is the way how mobile phones are traced to certain location from the network side as well. It's also worth noting that Google Maps uses this information as the only source of location information on phones that do not have a GPS. It's generally rather accurate in cities, but less accurate elsewhere (due to the increasing distance between towers).

GPS based location is your phone listening in to the GPS satellites and calculating the location in relation to those satellites. In essence it's the same thing as GSM network based location but in a bigger scale and with data that has been designed for geolocation.

So, there you have it. I hope that clears up a bit why data is sent to google. You should also keep in mind that i'm not an authority on these fields and all of this information is second hand information...

In the end WiFi information is the easiest to retreive since the phone is likely to have an active internet connection most of the time. Next is the GSM network based since you already have the information about towers and neighbors, but the calculations need to be done. GPS is the most tricky one since you need to obtain a fix for information that is not present already. The phone needs to figure out where it is, where are the satellites in relation to the phone and so on before it can provide any data, not to mention accurate data.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 11:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I really hate to bump a super old thread, but ressu, your description was great for isolating what differences and similarities there are between the 3 main types of location based features.

I have a question - is there a way to separate wifi vs mobile towers? My issue is this... for some reason my wifi says I'm in New York, when I'm in southern PA very close to the Maryland border. However if I have the "use wireless networks" option on, it seems to use wifi over the cell tower ability. Count in the fact that I'm always on wifi and suddenly we have a location problem since a lot of my services are reflecting that I'm in another state (such as Latitude, etc.)

Is there a way to prevent my phone from using wifi location BUT still use cell tower location? And yes, I know I could disable wifi, but I utilize it very very heavily... so it would be a relatively big killer to just not use wifi...
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