The GPS capability of your smartphone is critical for location-based apps, like those meant for weather or mapping purposes. At times, though, that kind of tracking can start to feel inconvenient or even oppressive. Whether you're a teenager trying to hide from your parents or more seriously, someone with an abusive significant other who is obsessively keeping tabs on them, there are ways to trick the location tracking features on your device.
But you're going to need some outside help to do it. Regardless of whether you use an Android or iPhone, there isn't a simple one-button setting that will instantly alter your virtual location. You'll have to do a bit of digging to make your deception a reality.
The GPS chip in your phone is meant to be as accurate as possible, and, when it's turned on, it continually updates your position by relaying coordinates to your phone's operating system (OS). The OS then shares that data with apps that rely on location information. To get around that, you'll have to deceive those apps into accepting false GPS data.
In the Google Play store you'll find plenty of apps meant to enable GPS fakery for Android devices. We'll use Fake GPS Location – GPS Joystick as an example.
Faking GPS Location on Android Smartphones
- Go to the Google's Play store, then download and install the app named Fake GPS Location – GPS Joystick.
- Launch the app and scroll down to the section titled Select an option to get started. Tap the Set Location option.
- Tap the Click here to open the map option. This lets you use a map to select the fake location where you want your phone to appear. The coordinates will appear on the Latitude, Longitude line in GPS Joystick.
- Tap Start. You'll see a Draw Permission Required dialog box, which prompts you to change a system setting. Tap Go to Settings.
- Tap Permit drawing over other apps, then tap to go back.
- Tap Start. You'll see a dialog box that prompts you to enable a mock location.
- In order to enable a mock location, you'll have to dig into your phone's settings. Tap Go to Settings, About, and find the Build Number (alternately, you can just search for the Build Number option from your phone's Settings menu). Tap rapidly on Build Number until you see a notification that shows you're entering Developer Mode. Dismiss any notifications about Developer Mode.
- In your phone's Settings, tap Developer Options, then tap Select mock location app. Tap GPS Joystick. (You can also search for Select mock location app.)
- In GPS Joystick, tap Start. You can open Google Maps or a similar app to see if your location is now updated. It may take a few moments for your faked location to appear on other people's phones.
Faking GPS Location on iPhone
Faking the location of an iPhone requires more effort than with Android devices because you can't simply install an app. The easiest way is to use your computer, and keep in mind this only works with iPhones running iOS 12 or older operating systems.
- Connect your iPhone to your computer and install iTools on your computer. iTools includes a tool called Virtual Location that lets you alter your phone's location.
- Launch iTools and click the Virtual Location button.
- At the top of the map, type in the location you want to fake and press Enter.
- On a map, you'll see your GPS location move to the faked location. Click Move Here. You can click the map to change your location if you like.
- You can exit iTools and disconnect your iPhone from the computer. If the program prompts you to stop location simulation, be sure to select No.
If you just want to turn off your location information without trying to fool people into thinking you're someplace else, it's pretty easy. On iPhones, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Toggle the Location Services button from "On" to "Off" to turn off location information. For Android phones, go to Settings > Connections > Location. Toggle the Location button from "On" to "Off" to turn off location information. Note that some apps won't work properly if the location information is turned off.