Location time zone detection, available on Android 12 or higher, is an optional automatic time zone detection feature that allows devices to use their location and time zone map data to determine the time zone.
Location time zone detection is an alternative mechanism to telephony time zone detection. Because this feature doesn't require telephony, this feature can be supported on devices of various form factors in addition to mobile telephony devices.
The location time zone detection feature consists of the following components in the AOSP platform:
- Time zone detection logic in the system server.
- A user-accessible option in Settings, introduced in Android 12, to enable users to select between the telephony and location time zone detection mechanisms.
- A plug-in system for components that perform the location detection and time zone mapping. A plug-in is called a Location Time Zone Provider (LTZP) and there can be up to two of them on a device.
- A reference LTZP implementation.
- Host tooling to generate a reference data set from OpenStreetMap data that can be used with the reference implementation.
Location time zone detection includes the following user privacy features:
- Users can turn off location time zone detection at any time.
- Location-derived time zone suggestions aren't shared between users on a device.
- Users can control the detection of location for time zone detection explicitly through the Date and Time Settings screen. Users don't have to explicitly grant permission through a permission dialog.
Device location information isn't passed to the Android platform services. The following happens instead:
- The time zone detector services are only sent time zone IDs by the LTZP, not the device's location. This is the minimal API needed to support location time zone detection.
- The operation of individual LTZPs is left to system integrators to decide. LTZP implementations can use time zone map data held entirely on the Android device, leverage servers, or use a hybrid approach.
time_zone_detector service determines when to change the device's current
time zone based on suggestions it receives from detection origins.
location_time_zone_manager service is responsible for generating
suggestions for the location origin of
location_time_zone_manager service runs in the system server process.
location_time_zone_manager service doesn't contain any time zone detection
logic. It's responsible for managing the lifecycle of one or two plug-ins called
Location Time Zone Providers (LTZP).
When location time zone detection isn't needed, the LTZPs aren't started. This means that the location time zone detection system doesn't ask LTZPs to track the device's location unless they are explicitly required to. Some of the reasons for this behavior include the following:
- Unlike telephony signals that are received passively as part of normal telephony operations, location can be actively requested from Android location providers and could consume additional power.
- Location settings are user scoped and Android must respect the current user's settings.
- Obtaining the device's location is privacy sensitive.
location_time_zone_manager service makes an uncertain suggestion (if
one is needed) when the current user changes to avoid sharing location
information between users.
As a result of these choices, it usually takes a few seconds after switching the current origin to location, or after switching the current user, before the time zone can be detected. This also depends on the implementations of the LTZPs being used.
The AOSP location time zone detection implementation allows up to two LTZPs, a primary and a secondary LTZP as defined here:
- Primary LTZP
- Runs at all times when the user has allowed the location time zone detection feature to run.
- Secondary LTZP
- Runs if the primary LTZP reports that the time zone is uncertain, reports a permanent failure, or times out during initialization. Stops if the primary LTZP submits a certain suggestion.
As shown in Figure 1, the
time_zone_detector services receives time zone
suggestions from the telephony or location origin. The location origin receives
suggestions from the primary or secondary LTZP.
Figure 1. Location time zone detection information flow.
Device configuration requirements
To support the location time zone feature, devices must be configured with LTZPs that the device can use. Devices require at least one LTZP to be enabled and configured for location time zone detection to be functional and visible to users in Settings.
This section describes how device manufacturers can configure devices to support location time zone detection.
The base AOSP configuration is at
|Configuration key||AOSP value||Description|
||This is the master control for the location time zone detection feature.
The feature is supported by default in AOSP. At least one LTZP must be enabled or configured for the feature to be available to users.
Setting the value to false disables the feature entirely for a small memory saving.
||This enables the primary LTZP.|
||Set this to the package name of the app where the primary provider service can be found.|
||This enables the secondary LTZP.|
||Set this to the package name of the app where the secondary provider service can be found.|
By default, the AOSP configuration has the
config_enableGeolocationTimeZoneDetection key set to
true, enabling support
for the location time zone detection feature. The feature isn't visible to
users initially because AOSP doesn't include an LTZP configuration by default.
However, using this default configuration, device manufacturers can enable and
simulate LTZPs from the command line for testing. (For more information, see
Debugging and testing.)
LTZP configuration and deployment
When configuring an LTZP, read the instructions in the source code for
The Javadoc comments provide details on the service, permissions needed and
To configure a Location Time Zone Provider, device manufacturers must choose an app process to host the LTZP's service. Having a dedicated process for an LTZP is a high overhead; ideally, the app process chosen is one that is running at all times such as the system server.
On devices with
modular system components
(modules), consider the interaction between the geo data used by the LTZP and
the time zone rules (tzdb) carried in the
Time Zone Data module
com.android.tzdata). Updates to one without updates to the other are likely
to cause version skew issues. For more information, see
Feature adoption considerations.
AOSP reference LTZP
AOSP contains a reference LTZP implementation under
This reference implementation uses AOSP APIs to determine the device's location
and uses an on-device data file to map the location to a set of time zone IDs.
A reference data set derived from other open source projects is included with the source code. For more details, see README.md and the various LICENSE files.
Debug and test
The following section describes shell commands for debugging and testing the location time zone detection feature.
Interact with the location_time_zone_manager service
When the location origin is supported on a device running
Android 12 or higher,
Android instantiates the
location_time_zone_manager service at boot time.
To dump the current state of the
adb shell cmd location_time_zone_manager dump
To see an extensive set of command line options to assist with testing, use:
adb shell cmd location_time_zone_manager help
The help output also describes the
device_config service properties that can
be used to affect the behavior of the
time_zone_detector for testing or in
production. For more information, see
Configuring a device using the device_config service.
LTZP implementations can also provide their own debugging or testing support. For example, you can use the following command to debug the AOSP reference LTZP when it's registered in the system server process.
adb shell dumpsys activity service android/com.android.timezone.location.provider.OfflineLocationTimeZoneProviderService