Phone Services app is using my location
So most of the people don’t seem to be aware of how android really works. Thanks to some the new features introduced by Android 12 some of the people began to be more aware of what their device is doing, how often the location,camera and the microphone are accessed both by the downloaded apps and by the core system apps themselves.
This activity can be seen via the Privacy Dashboard
Privacy Dashboard feature gives the users the possibility to see details of the data accessed by each app on your phone.
The dashboard has separate tabs for location, camera, and microphone. Easy to see ,easy to understand and easy to interact with. And now everyone goes like “But bro, Phone Services app is using my location”. “Before it never happened…” “Why now bro?”
But the thing is, this is nothing new…
This is how android has always worked since the very beginning.
Location and sensors have always been constantly accessed by the core system apps and their services ( “A Service is an application component representing either an application’s desire to perform a longer-running operation while not interacting with the user or to supply functionality for other applications to use.“)
Generally speaking apps that are part of the core system have full access to the device sensors and always on location access. Those are the so called Privileged packages.
Anyways, the fact that com.android.phone (That’s your phone services)is accessing the location is nothing new. It has always been like that. You have only become aware of it because now android 12.* allows you to see it.
Before it used to be done in the background. Why is the com.android.phone accessing your location… ?
Well i had a look through the source code and although I am not a developer i can see that ONE of the reasons com.android.phone needs to access your location is to provide you with “location related information” .
And as we keep looking, we stumble over the next one “ACCESS_LAST_KNOWN_CELL_ID”
The CID, Cell ID, uniquely identifies the cell tower. The cell towers are exactly that… Some towers with electronic equipment allowing the surrounding area to use wireless communication devices like telephones and radios. They look pretty much like this one below. (This is in the UK).
Now assuming you are in the area, close enough of this bad boy, and you happen to receive an SMS (assuming you’re old as fuck, around 30,) or a saucy naked selfie from one of your GFs ,or a phone call from your parents, well interesting things start happening…
Whenever a mobile phone is used, it broadcasts an electromagnetic radio wave, that is received by the nearest cell tower’s antenna (the ugly fucker from the pic above).
Once that cell tower receives this signal, it will transmit the signals to a switching center. This allows the call to be connected to either another mobile phone or to a telephone network.
If it is an international phone call, that switching center would bounce the signal up into freaking space to the satellites and then back down to the earth in milliseconds… It’s crazy to think all of this happens in such a short time but it does indeed.
So each of these babies cover an area called “cell”. When you are moving either in or out of their area of reach, your phone will be taken care by other tower.
Now, your phone is not very smart despite of its “smartphone” title.
In order for the phone to know where it is, it constantly needs to probe,ping,scan,handshake and advertise its presence and location to everyone and everything, each and every device it finds around.
Imagine a slightly blind dude walking into a party and looking for his friend going…
“Yo, is me bro!!! Bro, I am here dude, (coordinates follows) where the fuck are you?”
From time to time somebody might say something (that’s some bluetooth or wireless router ,or a wearable) and he’ll be like: “Yo, I’m a Samsung bro, I have this and this capability and i can communicate in all these ways…
Who the fuck are you?” , and the other device would be like :”Yo, I’m a router bro… I’m here (coordinates follows) I have this and this capability and i can communicate in all these ways, Who the fuck are you?” , “I’m a Samsung bro”… and the other device would be like Not you , you silly cunt, the 30 years old Nokia 3310 in the corner… I don’t even understand what he’s trying to say”…
So that’s what’s going on, and that’s how your phone works, but in order to do that, a lot of work needs to be done under the hood.
Which of course means accessing your sensors, your GPS your Bluetooth and so on, AND ON TOP OF IT, most of the time it needs to ask the towers where they are and make an entry of that somewhere containing the data of that tower, its last known cell identity which of course includes the location of that tower in case of an emergency call. This a pretty rudimentary description of how things works under the hood and why your phone uses the location so often.
Long story short , this is all normal and i would not worry about it.