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Ok, I have a big problem! My fiance says he was at lunch while google location history shows that for over an hour he was in the hotel next door to the restaurant. He has a Galaxy 3. enter image description here

The dots at the bottom of the screen are from the restaurant and the dots up at the top are the hotel. None of the blue circles from the 2 locations run into one another either.

How likely is it that this is inaccurate?

  • Uhm... I don't really know how to approach this question. One thing to note: I think it's unlikely that a phone actually pinged GPS Satellites for detailed location data this many times in an hour. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. – dotVezz Nov 6 '13 at 22:17
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    Very likely. I very often see in my location history that my train in Maryland warped to southern Virginia and back in a ten-minute span. It all has to do with whether GPS is working (it requires the device to "see" the sky) or if it's just course location based on which cell tower is being used. I'll wager there's a cell antenna on top of the hotel. – ale Nov 6 '13 at 22:18
  • I agree with @Al - if there's a cellular antenna on top of the hotel, or inside it (Something not unheard of - provide better reception for customers), then Location Services may be locking onto its location to update its location data. This sort of reaffirms my belief that his his phone isn't likely to get a GPS lock this frequently - it was most likely using cell towers to calculate the position. – dotVezz Nov 6 '13 at 22:22
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    Oh, those data are quite accurate. Except when they are not: Maps location out by 12,742km - the other side of the world / Google Maps Location History is showing an incorrect location (does this problem sound familiar?) Besides: A lot of trust if you need to check his location history for where he was. – Izzy Nov 6 '13 at 22:23
  • Ah! Looking at the link @Izzy so graciously provided, I'm revising my previous assumption - it was probably locked onto the Hotel's wifi. Even if you're not connected to the wifi access point, if it's "visible" to the phone, it can be used to calculate a location. It probably thought it was at the hotel because it could see the hotel wifi. – dotVezz Nov 6 '13 at 22:28
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Izzy, in his comment, linked this previous question which explains how Location data is gathered. I recommend reading it for a better understanding of the technology. (It also seems to be contextually applicable)

In this case, the phone was most likely assuming that it was inside the hotel because it could see the hotel's Wifi access point.

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  • even if the restaurant has wifi? what concerned me was the fact that once the dots moved to the hotel, they stayed there, they didnt bounce around or anything. they started at the front, moved toward the interior of the building, stayed there and then left... like it was following right behind him. these locations were accumulated over 2 hours. the last hour was all up top at the hotel. and what qualifies a location as "stationary"? – user44694 Nov 6 '13 at 23:56
  • @user44694 - Seriously, I think you're reading too much into this. It's not like Google has every single wifi hotspot in the world mapped to a location. At this point, part of me thinks you're playing a practical joke on the community here. Android's Location Services are known to be weird. If you don't trust your fiancee, then bring it up with him. He has just as much right to be walking around parking lots and hotels as you have to ask strangers if he's telling the truth or not, and hide your concerns from him. (You both have those rights, but it's best not to exercise them either way) – dotVezz Nov 7 '13 at 3:28

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