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On my Android phone (a Desire HD), the GPS indicator is currently on & flashing away.

How can I find out which app is responsible for using the GPS? I have my suspicions but would like to know for sure.

It's rooted & I'm more than comfortable interrogating /dev or somesuch. Running 2.2.

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This is a good Q. Would love to know if there's some sort of log of GPS access too. I often find, when at my lock screen, something is pinging the GPS, which then stops as soon as I complete my login. –  eidylon May 4 '11 at 6:19
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One way to find out might be to turn off GPS and see which apps complain. –  Al E. May 4 '11 at 13:02
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Or to close apps one by one and see when the GPS stops being used. –  Matthew Read May 4 '11 at 14:01
    
For example I am testing an application called GPS Tracker that once opened uses the GPS (just as expected). But if you don't close it explicity (by selecting the option exit after pressing the menu button) and instead you press the home button or go directly to other app, then GPS Tracker continues to use the GPS, because it is tracking your route... I think the same happens with other apps you are using. The conclusion: find the way to close them directly from the app itself. –  Nicolás May 4 '11 at 16:18
    
@Nicolás I have this exact same question, and I'm very sure there isn't any GPS route tracking software currectly active (I do have a few installed, though). The GPS just suddenly gets on, flashes for a while, then disappears (presumable because it found my location). This happens when I have no applications running that I imagine could have any use for GPS. –  Ilari Kajaste Apr 13 '12 at 9:26
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5 Answers

Install Spare Parts. Open it and click on "Battery History". Select the drop down list at the top and from it choose "GPS Usage". It will show you what apps have been using the GPS.

Note that you'll need to have your device unplugged at the time as it's actually looking for battery usage as used by apps accessing GPS.

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Unfortunately my phone model isn't supported by Spare Parts. –  Ilari Kajaste Apr 13 '12 at 9:22
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this didn't work for me. clicking battery history just took me to that page in settings. there was no gps dropdown. I'm running 4.1.2 on a sprint galaxy note 2. –  Heath Borders Jul 6 '13 at 15:29
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There a a lot of apps that will just use GPS if it is on. even the camera will use it to put location data in the image. google uses it for buzz, maps, latitude, etc. And if you have latitude, it will fire up every once in a while to report your location (which if you have latitude, you told it to do :)). there are some applications that will even use the GPS, if it's available, to show you "local" advertisements.

If you "opt'd in" for the "providing google with location information" when you set up your device, the device itself will use it to notify google about wifi locations and cell towers around your location. This data helps start GPS from a cold start, so it can lock on to a location quicker.

This data is good, and helps people that actually use the GPS. They are not "tracking your every move" like some people seem to think. Google, and Apple for that matter, couldn't care less where you are, what they want to know is where the cell towers are so they can tell you where you are with their location applications more quickly.

If you are worried about what may be sending data, then the only "safe" option is to turn off GPS unless you are using it, and check the permissions of applications when you install them. If your "Cooking Recipes" application wants to use GPS, that you may want to worry a little, unless it is going to tell you how to get to the store to by the ingredients.

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Is there a way to check whether I opted in to the location tracking information? I don't think I did, though. –  Ilari Kajaste Apr 13 '12 at 9:28
    
And for the record, I don't care if Google or Apple - or the app in question for that matter - cares about where I am. It's my phone, my location information, and I don't want my phone sending that information to anyone I've not agreed to send it to. I'm not worried about location leaks - it is the principle that matters, and it does matter quite a bit. (Also, periodically peeking at GPS probably drains some battery, but I don't believe it's all that significant.) –  Ilari Kajaste Apr 13 '12 at 9:33
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Generally speaking, GPS is not always running, when an activity that uses GPS, gets paused, the GPS shuts down to conserve battery. When the activity is resumed, GPS gets kickstarted. This is how a well-behaved and written application should behave.

I would suggest to install Droidwall, and dis-allow ALL apps to access both 3G and Wifi. And watch the log, there should be some process attempting to connect.

It should also show up in the 'logcat', in a form of something similar: 'Cannot access xx.xx.xx.xx' ip address format.

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I don't think there's an app that shows which app is using the GPS. Also, I can't get Spare Parts's Battery Information screen to show in my Android 4.1.

Here's my suggestion:

Whenever you see that the GPS is active (such as, the GPS icon in the notification bar, or Settings > Battery shows that the GPS is active), click on Settings > Apps > Running to see which apps are running. One of them is the culprit.

In my case today, the rogue app is No Zombies.

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It seems like Beautiful Widgets often uses your GPS if you have your location set to automatic. Setting it to a fix location may help.

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What makes you think that he has that installed? –  Richard Borcsik Jul 10 '12 at 20:03
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