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Google is still being shady with location controls in Android 13

Is Google trying to make location-tracking harder to disable or is it simply a question of space?

Published onFebruary 12, 2022

Android 13 location quick setting tile
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

It’s been a crazy week thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S22 series launch event, but Google also added to the chaos by announcing the first Android 13 Developer Preview. The latest version of Android doesn’t seem like a massive upgrade just yet, but we do see features like a secure photo picker, a new Wi-Fi permission, and themed icons.

Unfortunately, it looks like Google is still being rather sketchy when it comes to location controls in Android 13. More specifically, the company continues to hide the location quick setting tile by default, forcing users to edit the quick settings layout themselves and add it to the notification shade. It’s not like there’s no space for quick setting toggles either, as there are still two spots left open on the second quick settings page.

This isn’t the first time Google has done this though, as the company opted to hide the location quick setting tile in Android 12 for Pixels too.

A deliberate attempt to hide location tracking?

Android 13 location settings
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

It is worth noting that Android 13 (and Android 12) does ask users during the setup process whether they’d like their location to be tracked. Furthermore, it’s possible to toggle location tracking on or off via the settings menu. But the quick setting menu is the quickest and most convenient way to control whether your location is being tracked, allowing you to enable/disable tracking as you see fit.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that Google is deliberately removing the corresponding quick setting tile, even though it’s been a fixture in stock Android and OEM skins for years now. It is ‘theoretically’ possible that Google is purposefully making it harder for people to opt out of location tracking.

We're guessing Google removed the location quick setting tile either because it had no space or because it wants to make it harder for people to disable their location.

After all, the change comes weeks after Google was slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly continuing to track users when location tracking was turned off. The search company was also accused of using so-called dark patterns to manipulate people into keeping their location tracking on.

Another possibility is that Google decided to remove some quick setting tiles because they’re much larger than in Android 11 and earlier. But as we’ve noted before, the quick settings menu has two empty spots by default, so there’s definitely space for Google here. It’s hard to have sympathy for the company if space is indeed the reason, as earlier Android versions allowed you to fit way more quick setting tiles in the notification shade. The current quick settings style certainly seems like a case of form over function.

It must be said, though, that this is just the first Android 13 Developer Preview, and it’s not uncommon for Google to make major changes during this process. So there’s still some hope that the company puts the location quick setting toggle in its rightful place. In any event, we’ve asked Google about the reason for the toggle being hidden from the default quick settings pages and will update the article accordingly.

Do you think Google is making it tougher to disable location tracking?

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