An app I'm using requires me to grant it the permission to track my location, which I grant.

But, if I manually toggle off the device's location service (for example in the settings or the drop down menu that appears when swiping down from the top of my screen), can the app still access the location service?

I know that the app might use other methods to track my location, like IP, but I'm asking specifically about the device's location service.

3 Answers 3


No, because ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION and ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION permissions can't turn on and access location services if they are disabled (assuming your phone isn't rooted). However, the app could still try to enable location services or find your location with other methods.

Vulnerabilities have existed to turn on location services without user interaction, however there is no intentional way to enable GPS programmatically without user interaction.

Without allowing the location permission, apps can still see your external IP address and router BSSID. Your IP address can be used to try to find your location which will probably only be accurate to the city / region (iplocation.com).

Your router's BSSID could be used to find a more accurate location if somebody has used a wardriving service like Wigle to map out your WiFi network location on Wigle's global map. This would allow the app to enter your BSSID into Wigle's API and find a precise location. If you were to have enabled location services, the app could gather BSSID addresses of networks around you for a more accurate location.

  • @Suimon ok, that's not clear in your question.
    – schroeder
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:41
  • @Suimon frankly, this is an odd question. The permission is dependent on the service running. Granting an app permission to access something does not give the app the permission to control the function of that thing.
    – schroeder
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:44
  • with the new question version, this answer no longer applies. Sorry for the whiplash.
    – schroeder
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:47
  • Is it best to delete this answer?
    – Joe
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:47
  • 1
    Leave it up for a while to ensure that the new question version is actually what is desired.
    – schroeder
    Aug 1, 2019 at 9:48

If we are talking in the way it is intended to use the answer is No, and that's why the setting is there.

Obviously there could potentially be known or unknown vulnerabilities through which you could abuse this, but that is out of scope of the question.

Keep in mind that Android Location services can have different modes as seen in the image below on Android 7.

enter image description here


To be sure, you would have to intercept the location service API calls before the Operating System normally does and verify that the correct sequence of the calls is not altered in some way, such as intentionally managed.

This technique is called "hooking" and this is one of the most sophisticated rootkits do when installed on your phone/pc. If you are suspicious, you need to check this way, otherwise, you'll never be sure.

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