I recently updated Google Photos in my Nexus 5 (with Android 5) and I was surprised to see that Photo Assistant has created location-based stories with titles like "A Sunday Morning in X Mountain" (with Google maps attached!) while I had GPS, WiFi and Location setting set to OFF during and arround the time those stories were recorded.

I have made a little research and found here that:

Scroll down below the faces in that same search screen, and you'll find a list of locations in which your photos have been taken. What's particularly remarkable about this is that it works even if you don't have location reporting activated, as is the case for me.

How? Google says its technology is able to recognize known geographical landmarks from photos and then use logic (and the laws of physics) to infer your location in other nearby photos. If you took a snapshot of the Eiffel Tower on February 9th at 2 p.m., for instance, Google can safely assume you were still in Paris in that selfie you took in front of a bakery 45 minutes later. The accuracy and level of detail may surprise you.

Is that true? Is there any Google doc about this feature? If yes how can I disable features like this? I am not interested in any case having my location data, whichever those are, processed by Google.

1 Answer 1


It doesnt look like they can do it if your GPS is shut off in your settings.

"If you turn off location completely for your device, it means that apps (both Google and non-Google apps) can’t use your device location and many useful features will be turned off."

As to them checking it in app. Seems like that is something they are trying to accomplish. What i have found to disable it is if you go to Settings->Google Location Settings and uncheck Access Location then they can't access your location even if your GPS is on from that app. That solved that problem for me.

I have found some information for you in the below links.

Google Landmark Recognition.pdf

Turn location on or off for your device

  • What it is implied is that they process the photos that you have selected to backup with Google Photos and based on the landmarks patterns they find in those photos they find your location. The question is: Should they do this if I have Location=off always - which means that I do want to share my location? Can I disable this behaviour?
    – trikelef
    Jun 5, 2015 at 12:48
  • Based on the documentation from the aforementioned link. If location is always off, then they shouldn't try to find your location based off of the landmark patterns in photos you have selected to backup with Google Photos. However there is not a specific setting for disabling this behavior to my knowledge.
    – alexnaj
    Jun 5, 2015 at 14:14

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