it seems like in the near future, GPS spoofing will become a thing of the past. According to a code change in Android 7.1, apps that fake (mock) GPS location will no longer be able to hide that fact from the Android location subsystem.
In previous versions of Android, fake GPS apps were able to change users GPS location without disclosing that to the system, making it impossible for Pokémon GO to detect usage of such apps.
This exploit is now patched in Android 7.1:
Fix exploit where can hide the fact that a location was mocked am: a206a0f17e am: d417e54872 am: 3380a77516 am: 0a8978f04b am: 1684e5f344 am: d28eef0cc2 am: 1f458fdc66 am: d82f8a67fc am: 1ac8affd51 am: 56098f81b6 am: 7cec76de0f am: 2da05d0f9e
There are already reports from early adopters that this security update disables GPS spoofing on following devices:
- Nexus 6P/5X
Apparently the patch is a part of Google’s March security updates and there is some indication that lower Android versions (6.0.1) could be receiving the same security update.
We’ll be monitoring this and updating our community as time goes on.
Considerations and implications
Of course, this change does not disable GPS spoofers across the globe, but it will certainly reduce the number of potential spoofers in the months to come. In reality, players using GPS spoofing at the moment can opt out of updates and keep their Android version as it is now.
Another contributing factor is that Android adoption is slow, with a number of devices left out of the update cycle. Here is a breakdown on current Android version adoption stats:
- Android version 7.1 is installed on 0.4% devices
- Android version 7.x is installed on 2.4% devices
- Android version 6.x is installed on 31.3% devices
- Android version 5.x is installed on 32.5% devices
- Android version 4.4 is installed on 20.8% devices
- Rest is 4.3 and lower versions
Evidently, this fix is going to affect a fraction of the user base in the unlikely scenario they decide to update their Android version.
However, it’s still a start and there are some reports that even 6.0.1 users can no longer spoof, which means there is potential that this patch will land on lower Android versions.
RELATED READING: In 2017, GPS Spoofing is the real bane of Pokémon GO