The GPS on my Samsung Galaxy S2 cannot find my current location whenever Google Location Service is disabled. I have it disabled most of the time because my battery drains much faster when the service is enabled. I disable the option via System Settings -> Location Services -> Google location service. In the figure below I'm referring to the top option.

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Is there a way to do one of these things:

  1. Somehow obtain my coordinates using GPS without Location Services enabled?
  2. Intelligently switch on/off Google Location Service when I need it (i.e. like when I'm using my GPS)
  3. Keep Google Location Service enabled, but somehow prevent it from draining battery.

In short, the problem I want to solve is to get my location coordinates without having Google Location Service drain my battery.

I'm running ICS 4.0.3 on AT&T's network.

  • 2
    What way did you use to disable Google Location Service? Did you just turn it off in Location & Security settings by deactivating "Use GPS" and "Use Wireless..."?
    – Izzy
    Oct 12, 2012 at 6:27
  • @Izzy, see the picture I inserted into the question.
    – Chance
    Oct 15, 2012 at 16:00
  • Wow, permanent flux. Almost looks like you can "allow network location" (first checkbox), but forbid Google to use your location data (last checkbox), as it was back in the days of Eclair? If I remove the last checkmark, the first is unchecked automatically... As I cannot verify, I can only guess: 3. won't be possible, I'm afraid. 1. obviously is not working (but why?). 2. could be achieved with Tasker, Secure Settings, and root...
    – Izzy
    Oct 15, 2012 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


You can still use GPS without having Google location services enabled. When you disable the location services you are opting out of sending data to Google. Google location services is actually an internet database (Google Location Server) that is made available to mobile device manufacturers as an application licensed by Google. This is the database that is updated with WiFi and cell ID data from devices running Android, and was initially populated with data collected by the Street View cars (up until 2010 anyway). It helps your device obtain a quicker initial fix by using WiFi AP or Cell ID information. It is used to augment the GPS, uses less battery life, and is sometimes used instead of GPS if you are indoors or do not have strong GPS signal.

As noted on Google's support site, for ICS 4.0+ Maps will still work with just the GPS activated. http://support.google.com/gmm/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=165333

In short, the settings you have above should allow you to use your GPS without the help of the cellular network or nearby Wi-Fi APs. You will have to be outdoors in order to use this feature though, and it can take up to 4 minutes to get a location. So if you are waiting on a fix and you have Google location services disabled, you'll have to be patient.

Let's address the battery drain--review the third-party location-aware applications you have installed. Some are poorly programmed and could be requesting GPS refreshes at a high rate, taxing your battery. Also if you are only using GPS to navigate, it is a battery hog.

  • Thanks, I think that's a good answer. When you say "outdoors", does that include being in a car? As far as the GPS, I don't think the actual GPS location is being used frequently, but just the location via the mobile networks - basing this on the GPS usage icon in the status bar.
    – Chance
    Oct 16, 2012 at 15:46
  • I would say anytime your device has an unobstructed view of the sky (required to locate the satellites) although, technically you could be indoors and next to a window and still get a signal. In a car you should still get a signal. Some chipsets are sensitive enough to get a signal indoors or without a clear view of the sky as well. If you have GPS and location service enabled, any of those sources (GPS, Cell ID, WiFi) could be used to determine your location. I do not own a Samsung, so I don't know whether the GPS icon appears when only GPS is used or whenever any location service is used. Oct 16, 2012 at 16:28

With the recent update google navigation service only works with location activated. I could not get it to work with location disabled regardless of gps status.

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