Google maps just shows a big circle (maybe 2 miles / 5 km) around my approximate location. Because of this, I cannot use it for navigation.

If I use OsmAnd~ (an alternative maps program), it can find my approximate location (< 100 m / 100 yards) instantly and my precise location within about 5 seconds. So at least other apps are able to find my location.

My goal is to limit talking to Google servers as much as practical. Unfortunately, the setting names themselves are not obvious regarding how much information it will cause to be shared with Google, so I am hesitant to experiment and turn them on.

Here are things that may affect Google Maps:

Settings -> Location: This is turned on. Maps and OsmAnd~ both are allowed the location.

Settings -> Location -> Location Services:
On: Earthquake alerts
On: Emergency Location Service
Off: Google Location Accuracy
Off: Google Location History
Off: Google Location Sharing
Off: Wi-Fi scanning
Off: Bluetooth scanning
Off: Carrier Location Access

Within Google Maps, if I go to its settings, there is a "Location accuracy tips" item, which when selected brings up a dialog that says "To continue, turn on device location, which uses Google's location service". I am hesitant to say OK, since it should not need to use Location Services which talk to Google servers.

The phone is a Moto G Stylus 5G (2022), running Android 12.

  • Using a Google app and not wanting to use Google Services feels like you want to de-Google your device in which case go the custom ROM route. For Google Maps to get a fast fix on your possibly indoor location, Google needs to know what WiFi SSIDs are in your area to improve triangulation. You may want to read: How Google uses location information Oct 9, 2023 at 5:01
  • Using a custom ROM would be worth considering if it were easier and I was sure my phone was supported. I admire the technical solutions from Google, but almost everything they do is in service of aggregating personal info to sell ads. From what I can tell, the built-in GPS should be accurate enough for my purposes without having to talk to Google servers.
    – Pixel
    Oct 9, 2023 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


After an update from Android 12 to 13 was offered, I find I am able to go to Settings -> Apps, select the Maps app, click on Permissions, then Location, and finally here there is a slider for "Use precise location". Enabling this setting allows the app to get a near-precise location using only the GPS.

I am not sure whether this setting was there under Android 12 or not.

  • It was... but I am pretty sure "Precise Location" uses more than the GPS, it also includes WiFi scanning, cellular triangulation, and in some cases Bluetooth beacon scanning... The difference is Android 13 doesn't require the permissions to do it with Google services as it is part of base system now. I might be wrong, but pretty sure I am not.
    – acejavelin
    Oct 11, 2023 at 2:43
  • My current mental model (which may be wrong) and subsequent theory is that the settings under "Settings -> Location -> Location Services" determine what Location Services will collect and pass along to Google. Then "Use precise location" only indicates what the OS will pass along to the application. (If the application is made by Google, it may then pass info along to Google, but that's a separate matter.) The "precise location" is calculated using GPS and possibly any other Location Services you have enabled. Again, that is all my present theory.
    – Pixel
    Oct 11, 2023 at 4:07

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