Who says that lockdown means you can't travel the world? Use a fake GPS and you can digitally place yourself pretty much wherever on Earth you please - and all from the comfort of your own smartphone.
OK, we realise that spoofing your virtual location is no substitute for the real thing, but the ability to fake GPS positioning has a multitude of handy uses. And chances are you already have the kit on your phone that can make it happen.
If there's already a VPN sitting on your smartphone apps list, then taking the next steps to GPS spoofing is just moments away, In this article, we'll explain briefly how to set up a fake GPS on your phone, five fantastic ways people use geo-spoofing and - if you don't already have an app - a top recommendation that will get you started.
A top VPN with in-built GPS spoofing
Surfshark - an excellent, affordable VPN with fake GPS
Most top VPNs can be teamed up with a third-party app to help you get a fake GPS location, but Surfshark does it all within the service itself - it's right there in the options on your Android app. Surfshark is an all-round ace VPN, too, and comes in at a bargain less than $2.50/£2/$AU3.50 per month.
- Compare this provider to the other best VPN providers out there
How to use a VPN to spoof your location
Your journey to a fake GPS depends on whether you have a VPN incorporating GPS spoofing (i.e. Surfshark). If you do - and you're an Android user - then it's all pretty straight forward.
Enable fake GPS if you have Surfshark VPN
Once you've signed up for Surfshark, downloaded the app to your Android and logged in, head to the 'Settings' menu in the app and then straight to 'Advanced'. Hit the 'Override GPS location' toggle and then go through to your phone's settings when prompted.
In your phone settings, go to 'About phone' and then tap 'Build number' a few times (and potentially enter your password) until it tells you you're in developer mode.
Head back to the settings in the Surfshark app and 'Open settings'. Scroll to find 'Select mock location app' and then choose 'Surfshark' from the options. Back to the Surfshark app and you should be told that the setup is complete. Now, when you choose a VPN server location from Surfshark, it will automatically spoof your GPS, too.
Fake GPS with other VPNs
If you already have an Android VPN and aren't inclined to substitute it for Surfshark, then you'll need to team it up with a third party GPS spoofing app. There are plenty of choices out there on the Play Store - some free, some paid-for.
Once installed, we'd seriously suggest checking out the online support articles from your chosen VPN provider or getting in touch with its live chat support (assuming it has that option) for guidance. Top-rated virtual private networks like ExpressVPN have the best of both worlds - specific online guidance and fantastic 24/7 support.
1. Widen your dating circle
Have you swiped left so many times that your index finger is starting to go numb? If all the local matches on your dating app are duds instead of the match of your dreams, it might be time to cast the net a little wider. Change your GPS location to somewhere else (to a server that's still near you - no point in looking for a hook up on the other side of the planet), and a new pool of potential love interests will begin to reveal themselves next time you log in to your dating app.
Alas, this doesn't work with all dating apps. Some apps that have laudably improved their levels of security (e.g. Tinder, Grindr) will defeat your attempts to spoof your location.
2. Upgrade your Android
Have you ever been in the situation where you've read about the roll-out of some awesome-looking new Android software updates (perhaps on this very website), only to be immediately disappointed when you discover that they're only available in certain regions of the world? Annoying, huh?
If you know what countries the operating system update has been rolled out to, you can spoof your location to that location and install the device update as if you were there.
3. Lose the tracking
We all know by now that companies and services can use your internet IP address to track your movements. Sometimes it can be helpful, but sometimes it just feels a bit... icky.
Unbeknown to most people, GPS is another way that your location can be tracked - after all, we pretty much always have our smartphones with us wherever we go these days. If that bothers you and you want an extra layer of privacy protection, then a GPS spoofing solution will help you disguise your physical location.
4. Fool your followers on Instagram
Let's face it, for most of us 2020 has been a pretty barren year for impressing social media followers with snaps taken in faraway climes and check-ins to fabulous locations.
Spoofing your location is a fun way to glam up your Gram. With some creative set dressing in your garden and change your GPS to a server in Sydney, and you'll be able to convince your friends and family that you've nipped off to Bondi Beach for the day. Change your location to New York City and dust off that memento of the Statue of Liberty you were given years ago, and suddenly folk will think you're visiting the Big Apple. Just a little bit of harmless fun - and we could all do with a bit of that.
5. Catch them all on Pokémon Go
Does that elusive Lucario just refuse to waltz into your postcode? Metagross gone missing? Or maybe you just know that it's time to up the stakes to get hold of that precious Mewtwo? Spoofing your location with a fake GPS can open up a whole new avenue of Pokémon Go grabbing stops.
And, of course, Pokémon Go is just one of many Android games that utilises GPS and your location. The likes of Mobile Legends, Ingress Prime and Jurassic World Alive can all also be enhanced with a little GPS manoeuvring.
It's worth noting that the path of Pokémon hunting doesn't run completely smoothly with this method - as you can learn in our dedicated guide to using a fake GPS for Pokémon Go. It also involves having to get hold of an emulator and then possibly even a GPS joystick app. Not easy, but could be worth it for the committed Lucario stalker.
Location spoofing on iPhone
We've talked above about how easy it is to get a fake GPS on Android and its uses, and maybe you're an iPhone user wondering why we aren't discussing iOS. Frankly speaking, Apple has made spoofing your location on iPhone incredibly difficult. The App Store doesn't really deliver on effective fake GPS apps and you generally have to resort to either jailbreaking your iPhone or picking up an individual device that you'd plug in to your smartphone.
So for the benefits involved in faking your GPS, we just don't think it's worth the rather substantial hassle. Sorry iPhone users!
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Adam was formerly the Content Director of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversaw many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPN, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews. Adam has now dusted off his keyboard to write articles for the likes of TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide.