Over the last couple of years, the services which companies like Google offer for free have started to outpace their premium alternatives. With these businesses relying on advertising revenue, rather than sales, they have the scope to make far more money than traditional methods would allow, and this gives them the chance to improve their services. As a big part of this, Google has spent a long time developing systems which can tell you when roads, stores, and other areas are busy, all using real-time user data. How exactly does Google know where people are, though?
This all starts with the smartphone you carry around with you each day. Most people are aware that Google owns Android, and this means that all of the basic services which come with this operating system are provided by Google. With your phone on all the time, they have access a lot of information about your daily life, and they can use this to warn other users when there are too many people in one place. Of course, Google is also responsible for creating maps services for iOS devices. While the apps aren’t quite the same, they give Google access to similar data, and this gives them even more power.
It’s fair to assume that having GPS turned off on your phone would stop you from broadcasting your location to Google. In reality, though, the GPS antenna isn’t the only part of your phone which can figure out where it is. Along with this, using a range of cell signals from different towers, businesses are able to get a rough approximation of your location without it ever being broadcast. This sort of technology is great for loads of different situations, ranging from making your device use less battery to being able to find people who are lost but don’t have GPS turned on. Of course, though, this doesn’t stop people from finding it creepy.
There are very strict rules around the world which prevent businesses from collecting and sharing data which you consider to be private or secret. Of course, though, there are easy ways to get around this, with taking advantage of in-built privacy options being the most common approach which companies will take. In most countries, tech companies don’t have to explicitly ask for this sort of data, instead being allowed to give you the option not to send it to them. This makes it nice and easy to turn off your location sharing if you don’t like having it on, but leaves millions of people unaware that they are giving this information away.
With all of this in mind, you should be feeling more confident about the uncanny ability companies like Google have to know where you are. Thankfully, this information will never cross a human’s eyes, and this means that people aren’t going to be able to find you without your permission. Of course, though, it’s still worth doing your own research and keeping an eye on this area, as a lot of businesses change their tactics all the time.
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