On my Android phone (a Desire HD), the GPS indicator is currently on & flashing away.

How can I find out which app is responsible for using the GPS? I have my suspicions but would like to know for sure.

It's rooted & I'm more than comfortable interrogating /dev or somesuch. Running 2.2.

  • 2
    This is a good Q. Would love to know if there's some sort of log of GPS access too. I often find, when at my lock screen, something is pinging the GPS, which then stops as soon as I complete my login.
    – eidylon
    May 4, 2011 at 6:19
  • 2
    One way to find out might be to turn off GPS and see which apps complain.
    – ale
    May 4, 2011 at 13:02
  • 5
    Or to close apps one by one and see when the GPS stops being used. May 4, 2011 at 14:01
  • For example I am testing an application called GPS Tracker that once opened uses the GPS (just as expected). But if you don't close it explicity (by selecting the option exit after pressing the menu button) and instead you press the home button or go directly to other app, then GPS Tracker continues to use the GPS, because it is tracking your route... I think the same happens with other apps you are using. The conclusion: find the way to close them directly from the app itself.
    – Nicolás
    May 4, 2011 at 16:18
  • @Nicolás I have this exact same question, and I'm very sure there isn't any GPS route tracking software currectly active (I do have a few installed, though). The GPS just suddenly gets on, flashes for a while, then disappears (presumable because it found my location). This happens when I have no applications running that I imagine could have any use for GPS. Apr 13, 2012 at 9:26

5 Answers 5


Install Spare Parts. Open it and click on "Battery History". Select the drop down list at the top and from it choose "GPS Usage". It will show you what apps have been using the GPS.

Note that you'll need to have your device unplugged at the time as it's actually looking for battery usage as used by apps accessing GPS.

  • Unfortunately my phone model isn't supported by Spare Parts. Apr 13, 2012 at 9:22
  • 5
    this didn't work for me. clicking battery history just took me to that page in settings. there was no gps dropdown. I'm running 4.1.2 on a sprint galaxy note 2. Jul 6, 2013 at 15:29
  • 2
    As Heath Borders said, the Battery History button only takes you to the Battery page in Settings (on Samsung devices at least), which is of no benefit. In my case, I found "GSam Battery Monitor" which does provide a way of listing apps by GPS usage. The culprit that was responsible for using my GPS after a reboot was Kohl's.
    – CptRobby
    May 14, 2014 at 19:56

on Android 4.3 and newer: (can't say about carrier/manufacturer specific, such as samsung.. they change everything! this is tested on stock android)

open settings > Location (under personal)

there you will see a list of recent app titled "recent"

easy as that. the top app is the last one to use GPS. if you are still seeing the GPS icon, you can click that app to go to the app info screen. where you can stop/uninstall the app. if doing any of those things removes the GPS in use icon, you found the culprit. (here it was gasbuddy, which i haven't opened in 24h)

edit: ok, found a pic of samsung version. it works there too. enter image description here


There a a lot of apps that will just use GPS if it is on. even the camera will use it to put location data in the image. google uses it for buzz, maps, latitude, etc. And if you have latitude, it will fire up every once in a while to report your location (which if you have latitude, you told it to do :)). there are some applications that will even use the GPS, if it's available, to show you "local" advertisements.

If you "opt'd in" for the "providing google with location information" when you set up your device, the device itself will use it to notify google about wifi locations and cell towers around your location. This data helps start GPS from a cold start, so it can lock on to a location quicker.

This data is good, and helps people that actually use the GPS. They are not "tracking your every move" like some people seem to think. Google, and Apple for that matter, couldn't care less where you are, what they want to know is where the cell towers are so they can tell you where you are with their location applications more quickly.

If you are worried about what may be sending data, then the only "safe" option is to turn off GPS unless you are using it, and check the permissions of applications when you install them. If your "Cooking Recipes" application wants to use GPS, that you may want to worry a little, unless it is going to tell you how to get to the store to by the ingredients.

  • Is there a way to check whether I opted in to the location tracking information? I don't think I did, though. Apr 13, 2012 at 9:28
  • 2
    And for the record, I don't care if Google or Apple - or the app in question for that matter - cares about where I am. It's my phone, my location information, and I don't want my phone sending that information to anyone I've not agreed to send it to. I'm not worried about location leaks - it is the principle that matters, and it does matter quite a bit. (Also, periodically peeking at GPS probably drains some battery, but I don't believe it's all that significant.) Apr 13, 2012 at 9:33
  • This answer does not address the question. Instead, it tries to convince the OP not to think about the question. This might do well in a comment, but certainly not as an answer.
    – Daniel S.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 0:05
  • @DanielS., That's fine that you down-voted, but I am not trying to convince anyone of anything, I provided information. Based on the information supplied, I gave the best answer I could; any application installed could be using the GPS, if it requests the permission. Also note, my answer is about 4.5 years old. Nov 2, 2015 at 0:13

Generally speaking, GPS is not always running, when an activity that uses GPS, gets paused, the GPS shuts down to conserve battery. When the activity is resumed, GPS gets kickstarted. This is how a well-behaved and written application should behave.

I would suggest to install Droidwall, and dis-allow ALL apps to access both 3G and Wifi. And watch the log, there should be some process attempting to connect.

It should also show up in the 'logcat', in a form of something similar: 'Cannot access xx.xx.xx.xx' ip address format.


I don't think there's an app that shows which app is using the GPS. Also, I can't get Spare Parts's Battery Information screen to show in my Android 4.1.

Here's my suggestion:

Whenever you see that the GPS is active (such as, the GPS icon in the notification bar, or Settings > Battery shows that the GPS is active), click on Settings > Apps > Running to see which apps are running. One of them is the culprit.

In my case today, the rogue app is No Zombies.

  • Unfortunately, the link is dead. Maybe you can update it.
    – Firelord
    Nov 2, 2015 at 13:17
  • @Firelord I don't think the link needs updating, it's just an example for an app using GPS.
    – Izzy
    Nov 2, 2015 at 15:20
  • @Izzy That's why I added "Maybe" :). I believe you came here following the VLQ trail, like I did.
    – Firelord
    Nov 2, 2015 at 15:29
  • @Firelord that's correct – and I voted "OK" :) I vaguely remember there are ways to show which app is currently accessing location services (or has been doing so) – but I don't remember a) which those were and b) with what Android version they might have been introduced …
    – Izzy
    Nov 2, 2015 at 15:32

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