How To Fake or Spoof your Location in Google Maps
Want to prank someone by faking your location in Google Maps? Want to appear as if you’re somewhere other than where you really are? Have a more serious reason to fake your location in Google Maps? This tutorial will show you how.
I was once told a story about a friend of mine whose boyfriend secretly installed GPS tracking on her phone so he always knew where she was. Like a scene from You, the boyfriend wanted to know where she was, who she was with and all that good stuff. What he didn’t know is that she found out what he did and reversed it on him. By using some simple tools, she fooled the tracking app into thinking she was somewhere she was not.
There are lots of more fun reasons to fake your location in Google Maps though including Pokémon Go.
How Google Maps finds your location
Google Maps uses a combination of tools to find out where you are. It can use GPS, WiFi BSSID and cell tower geolocation to pinpoint your location. Even if you have GPS turned off on your phone and are not using WiFi, it will use your cell signal to triangulate your location. None of this is to spy on you but to increase the accuracy and usability of Google Maps.
Civilian GPS is accurate to 50 meters or so. WiFi BSSIDs are a huge database of unique router IDs that is compiled by Google and others so it knows where in the world certain routers are located. Cell tower information is used by your network and other interested parties to triangulate your position through signal strength and direction. All of these can fairly accurately tell someone where you are.
Fake your location in Google Maps
Now you know how Google Maps and other services locate your phone, you also now know that it isn’t enough just to turn off GPS or WiFi to stay hidden. You would have to turn off your phone completely before you arrived at your destination in order to do that.
Faking your location in Google Maps is much more effective. Whether pranking, messing around or something more serious, leading Google Maps to think you are somewhere other than you are isn’t that hard to do.
Even though Google Maps uses multiple sources to locate you, if GPS is available it will default to that. If it can locate you using GPS, it won’t then look for BSSID or interrogate your cell tower. If you then open a browser and add an IP address to the GPS, Google Maps uses these two data points to satisfy itself it knows where you are. We can use that to our advantage.
There are a bunch of GPS spoofing apps on the Google Play Store. Some are better than others and will work better than others. Find a good one and install it. Don’t set your location just yet though as there is one more step we need to take and it needs to be coordinated with your GPS.
You will likely need Developer Options enabled on your phone as the GPS app will want permission to change your location. Open your phone and go to Settings. Select About Phone and tap your Build Number seven times to enable. You should see a message that says something like ‘You are now a developer!’ if it worked.
Now when you trigger your app, it will ask for permission to change your location and you can just say Yes for it to work.
To access a different IP address registered in a different location, we can use a VPN. Many good quality providers offer endpoint servers in different locations across the world. Find a provider with an endpoint server close to where you want to appear to be and go with that. This will take a little research, but the top tier VPN providers have hundreds of endpoint servers in hundreds of cities across the world. It shouldn’t be difficult to find one near you.
Install the VPN if you don’t already have one and sign on to an endpoint server close to where you want Google Maps to think you are. Now go back to your fake GPS app and set it to the same city or location close to that city. As IP addresses are assigned by region and not strictly by city, the two data points will correlate enough for Google Maps to be confident it knows where you are.
There is a little bit of work to fake your location in Google Maps but if you really need to do it, this is how.
Have you used apps to fake your location in Google Maps? Pranked anyone or have an amusing story about faking your location? Tell us about it below if you do!