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How to Track Your Cell Phone

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Can I track the location of a cell phone?

When it comes to tracking your cell phone, a cell phone tracker likely works in the same way as any other device that tracks a moving object. Just like with car GPS trackers, using satellites to triangulate a position (via a process called trilateration) is a handy way to keep an eye on the position of your Android devices or iPhone.

GPS stands for the Global Positioning System, and includes somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 satellites in orbit at all times, each roughly 20,000 kilometers above the earth’s surface. Because those satellites are so far above the earth and because there are so many of them, you almost always are within sight of at least 4 GPS satellites. These satellites are instrumental in providing a location tracking app GPS track a person.

As you can imagine, the more satellites there are above your location, the more accurate your cell phone tracker can determine your cell phone’s location. Of course, there are factors—such as thick woods or extremely mountainous terrain, for instance—that can make satellite tracking more difficult. Still, as each satellite sends information about its position at regular intervals, and your cell phone uses that information and the speed of light to determine how far it is from the satellite. The GPS receiver in your phone can then pinpoint its location as long as it has that distance from at least three satellites, courtesy trilateration.

Live Locations From Someones’ Cell Phone Location

More About The Technology That Tracks Someones Cell Phone Location

So what’s trilateration? Think of using three circles to make a Venn diagram. Your Android and iOS device, because it knows the distance to each satellite, can use that information to create a circle (or sphere, really) to represent the area that is that distance from satellite A. As soon as your phone has similarly built spheres that represent the distance from the other two satellites (satellite B and satellite C) as well, it can use the intersection of those three spheres to pinpoint the GPS location of the phone.

And that’s a vast improvement over the old methods of using cell phone towers to triangulate a cell phone’s position, as the spheres better account for topography and the distance information is both more precise and more readily available. As a result, the location data courtesy those GPS satellites is frequently accurate within a few meters or less, meaning you can track your phone’s precise location.

The cell phone tracking location doesn’t do you any good, of course, if you can’t see it. So, for instance, if you have a cell phone tracker installed on your children’s’ phones (family safety), you still need a way to access that information remotely. This is typically done with third party apps found in the Google Play Store or an app that can trace location without installing software.

That’s where remote servers come into play. The cell phone tracking app installed on your children’s’ phones uploads that location information to remote servers. You can then access that information from that server as long as you have access to it, such as via a web-based application.

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