How To Fake Your Location on Life360
Life360 is a location-sharing family communication, chat, and driving safety tool designed to give families peace of mind about the location of their members. The idea is simple. The members of a family (or any group of mutually-communicating people, like a project team at an employer) install the app onto their smartphones; there is an iPhone client as well as an Android app. Life360 works on the concept of the Circle, a group of people who share information with one another. Once installed on your smartphone, you can invite other users into your Circle using their telephone number, e-mail address, or WhatsApp username. Each user installs the app and creates their own account.
Once users are in the same Circle, they can see one another’s location in the app on an updated real-time basis. Some common uses for Life360 are in families where parents want to be able to tell where children are, in workgroups at remote job sites, and in situations where at-risk or cognitively challenged adults have some mobility in the community, but caregivers need to be able to keep track of their location. Life360 has become one of the most popular location-tracking apps, with more than a million downloads on Android and more than four hundred thousand downloads on iPhone.
Life 360 Features
The main functionality of Life360 is location tracking. In the app, users can see the location of other members of their Circle on a scrolling map of the area. The app provides notifications called Place Alerts when users arrive at or leave designated locations; for example, you can set up a notification to tell you when your children get to school, or when a coworker returns to the warehouse. Users can send out Help Alerts if they encounter an emergency, sending out a distress message to their designated emergency contact. Users can also conduct a Check In, which allows them to send an alert to the Circle informing them of their exact location, and can view a location history for other members, showing where they have been in the past. There is an in-app chat feature that permits text conversations between the members of your Circle.
There are several tiers of premium services available with Life360. The basic level of functionality described above is free. When you upgrade to a higher tier, all the users in that Circle get the benefits of the tier, for one subscription price. The next step up from the basic level is called Life360 Plus, which costs $2.99 per month or $24.99 per year. This allows you to set an unlimited number of Place Alerts (the basic subscription only allows 2 different Place Alerts), and also expands the location history feature from 2 days to 30 days. Life360 Plus also gives you access to premium customer support, and access to the Crime Reports feature, a database of crime incidents in your area which updates daily with new police reports. This allows you to check the relative safety of any given neighborhood where a Circle member might be planning to go.
The highest tier of Life360 is called Driver Protect, and it costs $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year in the United States. (Non-US customers qualify for a lower rate.) Driver Protect adds driver support services to your Circle, giving alerts when a driver is speeding, using the phone while driving, accelerating rapidly or using the brakes heavily. In essence, it is a driving tattletale, very useful for parents of teenagers who may not yet be as safety-minded as Mom and Dad would prefer. In addition to the nanny features of Driver Protect, the app adds a crash detection feature that uses the phone’s sensors to detect a vehicular crash. If there is an accident, other Circle members will be informed and emergency services will be automatically called. This is a set of features that will be very reassuring for concerned parents.
The main concern some users have about Life360 is that they perceive it interferes with their privacy. And of course, it does. Spouses can monitor one another’s movements, just as parents can watch over their children’s travels. If you say you’re heading straight home from work, Life360 will make it clear that in fact you stopped off at McElroy’s Tavern, and higher service tiers will even keep your history of debauchery on file for a month.
Is it possible to work around these privacy concerns? In a word, yes.
Suppress Your Location on Life360
The simplest method for avoiding location tracking in Life360 is to simply turn the app off. Life360 is an opt-in app; it cannot be installed on someone’s phone in a configuration that always runs. Users can log out of the Life360 app, they can uninstall it, and they can interfere with the location tracking features of their phone to avoid being tracked. However, if you log out of Life360 or lose your data signal, your last known location will show on the map, along with an alert flag indicating that you are off the grid. The alert flag will disappear once your service is restored or you log back in to the app.
For purposes of this article, I am assuming that this is an unacceptable method of turning off your location tracking. It isn’t our job to judge you; maybe you need to be untracked because you’re going to pick up the gift and the cake for your spouse’s surprise party, or maybe you have been secretly volunteering at a soup kitchen but don’t want your family to know about it. Regardless of why you want to suppress or spoof your location in Life360, I will show you how to best do that.
The Burner Sidestep
Probably the most straightforward method of providing false information to Life360 without looking like you’re evading the location tracking feature is to acquire a second phone, often referred to as a “burner” phone, and installing Life360 on it under the same account as you use on your primary phone. You log out of Life360 on your main phone, immediately log in to Life360 on the burner phone, and then leave the burner phone in a secure location so that it appears you are where you are supposed to be.
There are some potential problems with this strategy. One is that Life360 has a built-in chat function, and if people in your Circle use the chat function to talk to you…well, you and the burner phone aren’t in the same place, so you won’t see the chats and messages from your Circle will go unanswered by you. This could raise suspicions. Another problem is that keeping track of the secret burner phone is itself a difficult thing to securely manage if you are trying to avoid being detected in your sneaky activities. Still, the burner sidestep method is easy to implement and reliable in execution.
Spoof Your GPS (Android)
The GPS feature of your smartphone works by receiving radio signals from a fleet of satellites orbiting the Earth. Nearly every smartphone has this feature, and it allows your phone to know your location to a remarkably fine degree of accuracy – even a basic smartphone GPS can generally place itself within about 15 feet of its actual location on the map. It isn’t really possible to fool the GPS satellite network; your phone knows where it is and there isn’t anything you can do about that. However, Android smartphones are highly configurable devices, and what you can do is instruct the Android software to ignore the information it’s getting from the GPS sensors, and instead substitute information provided by an app.
Setting this up is a multistage process. It’s a bit involved, but not difficult.
The first thing you will need is the Fake GPS Location app from the Play Store. There are other apps and you can use whichever app you choose, but we’ve tested this one and it is very solid. Although it has a rather dated interface, it is reliable and glitch-free. Install the Fake GPS Location app and then leave it for now.
The next step is to enable developer settings on your Android phone. Developer settings is a menu option on Android phones that tells the phone you are running experimental software or hardware. In essence, it lowers some security settings so that you can run tricky programs like the Fake GPS Location app. I’m providing instructions here for an Android phone running Android 8.1 (Oreo) but the steps for performing these tasks should be broadly the same across any Android phone.
Here’s how to turn developer settings on.
- Open the Settings menu on your phone.
- Tap System.
- Tap About Phone.
- Tap Software Info.
- Tap Build Number 7 times quickly.
- Enter your phone’s lock code when prompted.
You now have access to the Developer Mode settings page under Settings->System->Developer Options.
Toggle Developer on if it didn’t turn itself on automatically and you’re ready to go.
The next step is to install the Fake GPS Location app from the Google Play store if you haven’t already.
Now you need to tell your phone to use the Fake GPS Location app as its GPS device.
- Open Settings.
- Tap on System.
- Tap on Developer Options.
- Scroll down to “Select mock location app” and tap on it.
- Select the Fake GPS app.
That’s all there is to it.
Setting your location within Life360 is now easy. Just open the Fake GPS Location app and navigate to where you want your location to be. Hit the green Play button, and your phone now believes you to be wherever you have navigated to on the map.
You should be able to verify that everything is working by opening Life360 and seeing where you are showing on the map. It should be the same spot you’ve set the Fake GPS Location app to indicate.
Spoof Your GPS (iPhone)
Location spoofing is a lot trickier on the iPhone. It isn’t that iPhones are any less capable than Android smartphones, but the iOS operating system is much more locked down and doesn’t permit you to play reindeer games the way Android does. On older iPhones you can perform a procedure called “jailbreaking” which basically shuts down the portions of iOS dedicated to preventing you from having any fun. However, recent iPhones are no longer jailbreakable. However, there is still a way to spoof your GPS location on the iPhone, although it is more difficult and less flexible.
There are no free programs that will spoof a GPS location on your iPhone, but there is a commercial program called iTools which will allow you to do that. iTools does things besides GPS spoofing, but that’s the only program feature we’ll talk about today. iTools is not free, although you can get a trial for a few days to test it out. A single-user license for iTools costs $30.95. In addition, you run iTools on a Windows PC or a desktop Mac computer, and then connect your iPhone to the computer via a data cable, as though you were using iTunes. This means that your iPhone will be staying with your PC, not coming with you on your secret adventure.
Once you have iTools installed, follow these steps to set up GPS spoofing on your iPhone.
- Click the Toolbox icon on the iTools panel.
- Click the Virtual Location button on the Toolbox panel.
- Enter the location you want to spoof your location to in the text box and click “Move Here”.
- Go to Bumble on your phone and do whatever you wish to do in your “new” location.
- To end the GPS spoofing, select “Stop Simulation” in iTools.
It isn’t as elegant a solution as the Android platform offers, but it will get the job done.
Those are the three basic approaches you can use to trick Life360 into thinking you are somewhere you aren’t. You can turn it off, you can use a burner phone as a decoy, or you can use GPS spoofing to mislead the app. Do you have any other methods for bypassing Life360’s location tracking? Share them with us in the comments section below!
We have other spoofing and GPS-related resources to help you stay on top of your location game.
Interested in making phone calls with a faked caller ID number? Check out our guide to spoofing caller ID on a phone call.
We have a tutorial on spoofing your location in Snapchat.
If you use Google Maps, here’s our walkthrough for spoofing your location on Google Maps.