a blog from CenturyLink

What is location tracking technology?

by | Oct 27, 2022


Location tracking allows you to find lost devices or keep track of a loved one’s location. Life360, a popular family safety app, is used by 33 million people worldwide. Are you one of them? There are plenty of reasons why you might share your location with apps or with other location tracking services. In this article, we’ll explore what location tracking is, how it works, and the benefits of sharing your location.

What is location tracking technology?

Location trackers monitor the movements of people and objects, depending on what they’re designed to track. You’ve probably used location tracking technology without even knowing it. Navigation apps like Google Maps, helpful tools like Find My iPhone, and even the Apple weather app all track your location to provide you with accurate results.

Man using location tracking technology in his car

How does location tracking work?

Location tracking apps on your phone and other mobile devices use global positioning system (GPS) technology to pinpoint the precise location of your device. GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that consists of satellites that work in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. These satellites were originally put into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense for military use but were later made available for civilian use.

GPS satellites transmit a unique signal that allows devices to establish their precise location, which is then used to calculate a user’s exact location. Once your position is determined, the GPS can calculate other information, including:

  • Speed.
  • Total trip distance.
  • Distance to destination.
  • Sunrise and sunset times.

Today, location tracking is built into all sorts of devices, such as smart devices, cars, motorcycles, cell phones, tablets, delivery robots, and more.

Benefits of location tracking

Man on a bike trail using location tracking technology

With location tracking, you can enhance your life in many ways. It makes keeping tabs on family members much easier and helps you get from point A to point B with accurate directions and route mapping. Here are some of the other ways location sharing technology improves our day-to-day lives:

  • Helps track and find lost or stolen smart devices.
  • Shares your location with emergency services.
  • Routes you around traffic.
  • Alerts you of bad weather conditions.
  • Avoids credit card fraud when you’re traveling.
  • Ensures your children arrive safely at school and home.

Mobile location sharing apps can help you see a family member’s previous routes through their device’s location history. You’ll be able to check in on your partner or kids to make sure they’re staying safe. You can even sign up to receive alerts when family members move outside of the boundaries you set in the app or when they arrive at destinations like home, school, or work. With the right settings, you’ll never have to worry about your loved ones’ safety.

How can I share my location?

Whether you have an iPhone or Android, Google Maps offers free live location sharing on your smartphone. To share your location on the app, simply:

  • Open Google Maps and tap on your profile in the upper right corner.
  • Tap “Location sharing.”
  • Tap “New share.”
  • Select how long you would like to share your location for and who you would like to share it with.
  • Tap “Share.”

The app will automatically notify the person you’re sharing with that they can now access your location on Google Maps. Keep in mind that you and only you can allow others to track your location. You can cancel this permission whenever you want.

Share your location with the Find My app

GPS is a type of location tracking technology

If you have an iPhone, you can also use the Find My app. Apple combined its Find My iPhone and Find My Friends app into one location-sharing app. With the Share My Location feature turned on, your Apple device shares your location with contacts that have your permission to access this information. If you already have Family Sharing set up, your family automatically appears in Find My. To share your location through your Apple device:

  • Open Find My.
  • Tap on the People tab.
  • Tap on “Share My Location.”
  • Enter the name or phone number of the contact you want to share your location with.
  • Tap “Send.”
  • Select how long you want to share your location for and tap “OK.”

After you’ve finished these steps, the person who has access to your location also has the option of sharing their location with you.

How can I track someone’s location?

If the person you want to track is sharing their location with you, you can track their location using both Google Maps and Find My. You simply open the app and choose the name of the person you want to track. If your friend can be located and has given you permission, you will see their location.

Staying safe with location tracking

Person using location tracking technology

Location tracking can also be used to increase safety by keeping tabs on where your loved ones are and if they’ve arrived at their destination safely. But just like many other helpful tools, location tracking technology can be misused. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your privacy settings and change them if you feel uncomfortable with permissions.

The Safety Net Project has more information about how you can stay safe with this type of technology. You can also brush up on how to avoid scammers and create strong passwords to keep your information secure.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/emilyr" target="_self">Emily Richey</a>

Emily Richey


Emily Richey is the Content Manager for the CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber blogs. A recent graduate of Pace University NYC, she's an avid reader and writer. She spends most of her free time in bookstores and cafes, seeking the perfect cup of coffee.