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Access location in the background

As described on the request location permissions and privacy best practices pages, apps should only ask for the type of location permission that's critical to the user-facing feature, and properly disclose this to users. The majority of use cases only require location when the user is engaging with the app. If your app requires background location, such as when implementing geofencing, make sure that it's critical to the core functionality of the app, offers clear benefits to the user, and is done in a way that's obvious to them.

Note: The Google Play store has updated its policy concerning device location, restricting background location access to apps that need it for their core functionality and meet related policy requirements. Adopting these best practices doesn't guarantee Google Play approves your app's usage of location in the background.

Learn more about the policy changes related to device location.

Background location access checklist

Use the following checklist to identify potential location access logic in the background:

Evaluate background location access

If you find that your app accesses location in the background, consider taking the following actions:

  • Evaluate whether background location access is critical to the core functionality of the app.
  • If you don't need location access in the background, remove it.

    If your app targets Android 10 (API level 29) or higher, remove the ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION permission from your app's manifest. When you remove this permission, all-the-time access to location isn't an option for the app on devices that run Android 10.

  • Make sure the user is aware that your app is accessing location in the background. This is especially important for cases that aren't obvious to users.

  • If possible, refactor your location access logic so that you request location only when your app's activity is visible to users.

Limited updates to background location

If background location access is essential for your app, keep in mind that Android preserves device battery life by setting background location limits on devices that run Android 8.0 (API level 26) and higher. On these versions of Android, if your app is running in the background, it can receive location updates only a few times each hour. Learn more about background location limits.

Additional resources

To learn more about background location usage, view the following materials:

Videos

How to find possible background location usage