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Sometimes, when I wake my Acer Iconia Tab A500 up, I see blinking searching for GPS icon near the clock, which disappears quickly. I already noticed something like this on other devices. The questions is: what is it?

  • Something accessing GPS I'd say. Hard to tell more without more information. Would be one of the apps you've installed. Maybe you've setup something location-based to be displayed on your homescreen? So this would have to be updated when you switch on your screen. – Izzy Sep 15 '13 at 11:26
  • @Izzy It's hard to determine what app does this without deleting them all one-by-one and waiting for results. I hope someone noticed something like this. The matter is that the app tries to hide the fact that it uses GPS. – Andrey Moiseev Sep 15 '13 at 17:57
  • Sorry, but do you know how many apps had to be checked there? I could even name some who do behave like that (with good intention). But the answer would result in a long list (which is not how this site works). If your device is rooted, I could give you some starter to catch that app. Let me see, some basic stuff I've got in mind could help you out even if not rooted. I'll try to sum up an answer. – Izzy Sep 15 '13 at 18:10
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It's impossible to pin-point such app without closer information. But there are several helpers available to narrow down the list of candidates. Easiest way is if

Your device is rooted

and running Android < 4.1 (i.e. up to 4.0.x). In this case take a look at LBE Privacy Guard: Set GPS to "always ask" for all apps and see which one is touching it. LBE would then pop-up a dialog box and ask you to confirm/deny, optionally also to remember this decision. For all legitimate candidates, simply confirm and let it remember; for unwanted candidates reject and remember. If unsure, just don't let it remember. Along these lines, your candidate should reveal its presence.

LBE Security Warning

With Android 4.1+, don't even try to install that app (your device would be locked into a boot-loop). Instead, head to XDA, where they have localized versions of its companion (e.g in this thread). It's quite bloated, but might help in your case.

Your device is not rooted

This makes it a little more tricky. No fancy popups helping you out here (to my knowledge). But you could use a permission scanner to narrow down the list of candidates. One possible candidate would be AppBrain Ad Detector – with the side-effect to also detect apps with dangerous ad modules in installed apps (SpyWare and the like):

AppBrain Ad Detector AppBrain Ad Detector: Permissions

In the first example screenshot (just click the image for a larger variant) you can see "May share your location" listed in "concerns". Which means the app displayed uses location and network. To not have to open each app separately: the second screenshot shows you can list apps by permission.

Alternative helpful candidates include Guardian Droid and Permission Explorer:

Guardian Droid Permission Explorer

With some luck, your investigation leaves you with only a few candiates (with great luck it's just one, and you've found the culprit). Now you can see if you can (temporarily) disable those, and whether the problem is gone this way. If so, enable them one-by-one until the problem re-appears – which is after you've re-enabled the app you're looking for.

PostScriptum

Above described steps can similarly be applied to other permissions as well :)

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