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How does cell phone tracking work


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Most of it is completely harmless and sometimes even very helpful to increase the usability of the programs. But did you know that most tracking software is voluntarily downloaded and installed by you, the user. It is thus important to divide cell-phone tracking technology into two groups — consensual tracking and non-consensual tracking. A consensual tracking application is one that you have personally downloaded and explicitly granted permission to access your location.

For example, when you check in on Foursquare, Facebook, and Yelp, you are explicitly allowing those apps to know your GPS location. Nevertheless, this article does not address these consensual tracking apps because these are voluntarily downloaded by you. The more concerning form of tracking software, and probably the main reason why you are still reading this article, are the non-consensual apps.

How Does GPS Work?

These are apps that track you without your explicit approval and most likely, without your knowledge that they have ever been installed. Such apps are sometimes even downloaded onto your phone by a third party friend, parent, ex-lover, etc. Non-consensual tracking software can make it on to your phone in a number of ways.

We have listed two of the more common ways this occurs:. Although tracking software may be installed on almost any smart phone, a quick review should help clarify. The main reason why we want to differentiate between phones is to help you narrow down your research. When you are researching software concerns of your smart phone you should focus almost exclusively on your brand because each phone is different and has different security concerns.

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Professors can request a FREE evaluation copy. Skip to main content. The app that tells you which programs are currently running keeps showing a suspicious program running in the background. Your cell-phone interface will change automatically by itself or the brightness and color combination will not work properly.

Mobile phone tracking - Wikipedia

Any data Apple sees is anonymized and grouped with data from other users. Are you happy for Google or your iPhone to know where you are in return for step-by-step directions home, or local weather reports, or recommendations about a new restaurant in town? So, if you want to block a specific app from knowing where your phone is, you can switch the permission off at the app level.

Or maybe just go back to a dumb phone. The A. Field Guide.

The best monitoring solution

David Nield. Filed to: location tracking. Although this error is not as significant as other types, it can add an additional error factor which results in GPS accuracy being thrown off. If less than two satellites are visible to the receiver, then it will not be capable of providing accurate locating information. Department of Defense maintains the capability to impose intentional degradation of the GPS signal.

This capability is also referred to as Selective Availability SA.

Most modern cell phones come with a built-in GPS receiver in the phone. This receiver works similarly to other commercial-grade GPS receivers, in that it uses the difference in time of transmission and receipt of the GSP signal from a satellite to determine the distance to the satellite from the phone. If two satellites are visible by the phone, then a 2D position can be calculated. The greater the number of satellites visible to the phone, the more accurate the position will be.

The next task for GPS tracking applications is to communicate this location to a remote software program or application. Depending on the model of phone, this task is accomplished through transmission over WiFi , SMS text, or via a data connection over the traditional wireless signal. Depending on the model of phone in use, there are a number of options available to track a cell phone. All of the major models of smart phone on the market today include a capability to perform this task to include iPhone, Android, and the Windows phones.

Unfortunately, as iPhones have become more popular, it has become more and more common for consumers to lose the device. This capability is on by default when an iDevice is associated with an Apple ID. This is mandatory for use of the service. Step 5 — Choose the iPhone or other Apple device that is missing from listing. Step 6 — View the location of the missing iPhone on the subsequently displayed map.

If the iPhone has been turned off or the battery of the device is dead, the map will display the last known location of the phone. If an Android phone has a Google account attached to the device, then the phone can be tracked using the Android Device Manager. Step 1 — Launch the Web browser on any computer that is connected to the Internet, and login to your Google account. Step 2 — Open the Android Device manager and a map will launch displaying the location of the Android Phone.

Step 3 — View the display in the upper, left-hand side of the screen that will show the last time the phone was located in addition to other relevant information about the phone.


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Similar to other major cell phone providers, a Windows phone can be tracked if it has been associated with a Microsoft Account via the web interface located at the Windows Phone website. Step 1 — Open the Windows Phone website on a computer connected to the Internet and login to your Microsoft account. Step 3 — View the map displayed to indicates the last known position of the Windows phone. That being said, most major service providers in the United States provide a location service that let one track all of the cell phones on the same plan.

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The most common use of this functionality is to track the location of children who are on a family plan. At the time of this writing, the following are the family location services and rough pricing for this type of plan in the United States:.

In addition to providing real-time location services, the FamilyWhere service also allows account holders to view a seven day history of location data for each device as well as providing the ability to set alerts on each device. The service works with any web-enabled Verizon phone and provides the capability to track any phone on the Verizon account. Similar to other major service providers, the Verizon Family Locator can be setup to send an alert if a phone has not arrived at a pre-programmed location by a set time.

The service is not available at the time of this writing for pre-paid accounts.