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GPS Not Very Accurate For Running Apps.Support

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  1. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Hi Android Forum:
    This is my first post and I hope to do it correctly. I did a search and could not find what I am about to ask.
    I just purchased a Galaxy s4 and love it. I do have one problem. I love to get outdoors and run, hike, bike and the like. I use the app called RunKeeper. For some reason this new phone is not as accurate as my old iPhone. I can run a distance of 3 miles and my old phone was dead on (3 miles). With my new phone it shows 3.40 miles or close to that. It is not accurate. I then tried two other running apps: Nike+ and MapMyRun. Both of them are not accurate either. All three apps add about 1/2 mile to a 3 mile run. If you look at the track on the map after the run, the iphone map has some pretty straight lines, the Galaxy s4 has really "S" shape lines adding the extra miles. It just does not track very well.
    I have access to my location ON, I have use GPS satellites ON and I have use wireless networks ON. I called Samsung support and they said they know about the problem and a fix should have been out by now. Anyone have any idea on what I can try. Or do you know of a fix. It is just not very accurate. Thank you very much.

  2. GuitarG20

    GuitarG20 Clueless Senior Member Contributor

    Is your phone on one of the carriers? It's possible that the update is still in the carrier approval process and that is why you have not gotten it yet.

    As far as the GPS is concerned, it's been established that it doesn't track your location well. Do you get the GPS symbol in your status bar when you have the apps tracking? Does it indicate that you have good signal? It seems like your phone is using A-GPS (approximating your location based on wifi signals) and isn't actually tracking you using GPS proper.
  3. Screech

    Screech Well-Known Member Contributor

    For any real GPS precision I would recommend a BT GPS puck. I have a Qstar 818XT that is 5hz or 10hz switchable. Problem is you'll need to find a running app that support a BT GPS. I know of some for racing apps when in my car.
  4. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Thanks GuitarG20 for the quick reply. I have AT&T. I have also talk to two other support agents and they have not heard of the problem and did not know of a release/update coming out for the phone. Only the first person I talked to said this.

    I agree with you on the tracking. I believe it is also using the wifi signal and not the GPS. I have the GPS icon in the upper left bar. The circle with the four points on the sides and the dot in the center is a constant white dot. I did a race 5K (3.1 miles) last night and my program said I had run 3.40 miles. The track map indication line was all over the place causing the extra mileage.

    My run program (RunKeeper) also had a full three green bars indicating full signal strength.

    Thanks again.
  5. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Hi Screech: Thanks for the reply. I had an iPhone 3gs before I started using this Galaxy s4 a week ago for about 4 years. Used the same program (RunKeeper) and for a 3.1 mile run, it would read 3.1 or 3.2 miles. It was very accurate. On the map trail there were very few wavering lines. It tracked very well.

    I will do some checking on this Qstar you are talking about.

    Thank you very much.
  6. sschwindt

    sschwindt New Member

    Try turning off your wifi and see if accuracy improves. I use Map My Run and it has been pretty accurate when comparing to known courses.
  7. SebaKL

    SebaKL Well-Known Member

    Ok, I didn't try tracking on my s4 yet, because I was working abroad for a while, but I had very good results for cycling, running and other activity, using Endomondo and google's very own, My Tracks.

    With Endomondo I was able to edit track by mapping it manually, using their online interface. Sometime, bad reception would result in some funny lines, showing me running across buildings. But overall that map worked great, and the app has a massive amount of features.

    Regardless tho, if that's Samsung acknowledged problem, I don't think any app will work right till they fix it.
  8. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Thanks sschwindt: I did give that a try and no change. Still very inconsistent. Thanks again.
  9. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Thanks SebaKL: I downloaded the free version of Endomondo this morning and went out and did my 3.1 mile run. It came up with 3.28 miles. For the running, I need it to have a little better accuracy, so the calculation are a little more exact,( I believe it is the phone, I am going to call AT&T and see about getting an exchange. Thank you so much for your help.

    Here is a link for my 5K (Official 3.1 miles) run from the other night. It showed 3.41 miles. You can zoom in and see how the map tracks are way off:

    Jim Bailey Athlete East Palatka, FL, USA | RunKeeper
  10. SebaKL

    SebaKL Well-Known Member

    I know it's not funny, but it is. Looks like running a little high :)
    I'm going to use the S4 with Endomondo tomorrow for my cycling rout. Will let you know how it works on my end. We can then narrow down whether it's generic problem, or just your end.

  11. BigRedGonzo

    BigRedGonzo Well-Known Member

    It looks like you GPS unit is "Wandering." It frequently happens when a GPS loses sight of signals sporadically. It could be the unit or it could be the area where you are running. When a GPS unit is in good condition and you have wandering, it tends to be signal blockage due to foliage, building or other structures. If the GPS unit is bad, you typically see some of the channels that it is tuned in on dropping the signal for a specific satellite and then picking it back up. If it is the first issue, then there isn't much you can do except change where you run. If it is the second issue, the unit is defective.

    It is not A-GPS. A-GPS only uses the internet 1 time, when it first tries to achieve a lock. Your phone always uses A-GPS when you have an internet connection. The unit does an extremely rough triangulation based on cell towers or WiFi and sends that location to a site that returns the current satellite positions for that area. I speeds up your initial lock tremendously, but it only does it when you first crank up the GPS unit in the phone.

    You can test your phone with something like GPS Status (an app) and watch the individual satellite signals and see if it randomly dropping the strong signals or you can just get AT&T to change your unit out and see if that helps with the issue.

    Sorry, didn't mean to write a book, but I hope is helped some.

  12. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Hi BigRedGonzo: Thank you so much for the explination. that really helped out. I actually went to the AT&T store this morning and they gave me a new Galaxy s4. I have loaded the app: RunKeeper and will be trying it out tomorrow to see if it works any better. I have not loaded any extra apps, just the runkeeper, just to make sure any other apps were in conflict.

    That was actually a bad example of my run. It was near tall buildings, but my girlfriend and neighbor both have iPhones and they did not have any problems keeping the gps signal. There run showed about 3.14 on one and 3.15 on the other. Mine was the only one that was way off.

    Thanks again and will try to post tomorrow for my run. :)
    senoritafish likes this.
  13. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Thanks SebaKL: I'll check back tomorrow. I also exchanged my Galaxy s4 for a new one this morning. I'll see how this one does and if it made a difference. Thanks again.
  14. Outatime

    Outatime Well-Known Member Contributor

  15. SebaKL

    SebaKL Well-Known Member

    Hi there

    I did a quick ride to test the GPS. As to the distance, I must say is fairly accurate.
    According to Endomondo, I did 3.89km. Also, the path doesn't seem so bad as yours. Considering the road is always curving, I think the straight line between two points on curve is acceptable. Look quite straight on the longer stretch.

    After checking my stats on Endomondo site, I opened up Google Earth, and drew by hand the exact path I took (Included in the screenshot below). I tried to reproduce my path as I was going around manholes, joggers, cats, taking a turn into car park to wave hello to a friend.. etc....

    According to Earth, the distance is 3.88km, that's off by 1m.

    I would seriously expect more inaccuracy, and I would be very happy if it was rounded up to 20 meters. Even 50 meters would be fine.

    I always had very good results with Endomondo. In the period of about two years , it only messed my activities twice. Once it made me run at 70km/h and triple app my millage :) Once cut me short 3km. That's very little error given I use it almost every day.

    By the way, my WIFI was off, I only use DATA. Perhaps is not just phone but the GPS signal or satellites itself ?


  16. sOulbAit

    sOulbAit Member

    Thanks SebaKL: That is very accurate. I tried out my new phone this morning. The route I took should be reading 3.14 miles. My phone I had last week before changing out to the replacement one this week was reading 3.28 miles. This morning with the new phone it read 3.20 miles. It got a little better. My girlfriends iPhone read 3.14 miles. I did like you did and drew a line with google earth and it came up with 3.12 miles. Here is a post of my route I ran this morning.

    Jim Bailey Athlete East Palatka, FL, USA | RunKeeper

    I think I may have found part of the problem. When I run, I have a belt clip and I have the phone on the inside of my shorts with the clip holding it in place. I ran like that on the way out to the halfway point. I then took it out of my shorts and carried it in my hands on the way back. I can see on the above map, the lines look better coming back. Maybe my body was blocking the signal too much. BUT, I ran the same way with my iPhone and did not affect it.

    Here is another map of a walk I did with the phone on my waist but on the outside. The lines look really good.

    Jim Bailey Athlete East Palatka, FL, USA | RunKeeper

    Thanks again for all your help. :)
  17. SebaKL

    SebaKL Well-Known Member

    My phone is in a pouch under my seat, and the road is super smooth, no bumps and such.

    Just a thought, did you consider an Armband ? My wife runs with that stuff. I'm sure arm swing is less abusive on the phone than constantly moving lower body.

    Now, don't go for the purple one, might not suit you, but the red one or black, are cool. Armpocket

    My wife lugs her house key in it, some cash for a drink, and lock the headset cable on a side so it doesn't fly all over the place. It also prevents the phone from moisture damage. My wife killed her HTC by having it in a pocket. It actually corroded inside. And with such arm band, you can put the phone with a case.

    Anyway, just a thought. And I'm glad the newer phone works at least better than the last one.

    Have a good evening :)
  18. lexa349

    lexa349 New Member

    I run with an armband and have tried my phone in several different positions, both with an without a case. My GPS consistently shows about .50 miles less than I've actually gone. My iphone 4 was much better, even when shoved in my pocket upside down. Has anyone come up with any solutions since this thread was started?
  19. icom100

    icom100 New Member

    Maybe this has been asked before, or maybe this is a dumb question. Firstly, I have found that using either runkeeper or endomundo, that they both measure my runs about the same, knowing that my S 3 doesnt have accurate gps. So knowing that the apps work ok ,and the hardware is the problem (the hardware is also pretty consistant, even though it is innacurete) why dont the app writers simply make an option in the app to allow the app to be calibrated to where, no matter what hardware someone uses, the app will compensate for the innacuracies of the hardware. Its done with other computer functions. Why not this? It seems so simple, and inexpensive. Hello endomundo. Hello runkeeper. You guys seeing this?
  20. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    It's not a dumb question but you're proposing that those of us with superior GPS hardware get saddled with app bloat to accommodate those of you who need calibration more frequently.

    And it's not inexpensive.

    You're asking an developer who may have good ideas for mapping apps you like, who currently uses GPS just by calling a library function, to take on the work of becoming expert in the field.

    Check out "GPS Status & Toolbox"


    Tap the wrench, perform the calibrations. Again to manage a-GPS, first reset then again to download - that's a full GPS calibration.

    Use that as often as needed to get as much accuracy as your device allows.
  21. icom100

    icom100 New Member

    You may be correct, but I doubt that the extra feature of being able to calibrate the software to make up for the lack of good hardware would take much space on your phone, app bloat as you call it. If you have good hardware, then the calibration would not be needed, and the necessary calculations to do such calibration would not be necessary, therefore not slowing your hardware down. Endomundo and Runkeeper are apps with very large followings. They are also very good apps. I could be wrong, but I doubt adding a calibration feature that is basically an addition or subtraction function would constitute them needing to become some super genius to figure out.
    Most of us do not have good hardware. I don't know what you have. It may not be as good as you think when you compare it to a gps standalone watch. I wil check out the app you mentioned, but without a function to calibrate the onboard hardware, I don't see how it will help with my activity apps. I still call for these app developers to include a feature for calibration. Maybe one that switches off or on, so it wont use up extra cpu time on your phone.
    EarlyMon likes this.
  22. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    I've developed GPS front-end acquisition software for the Department of Defense's primary GPS mission (that means that I actually helped write the book on satellite data acquisition) and I've had a hand in every type of Android development.

    I've given you my opinion, and you're just not having any and I'm not sure what software development experience you have, maybe lots.

    And that's fine, you could be right. :)

    I'll just leave it at this -

    I made all-state cross country back decades ago and still manage to get around.

    If the top apps all go with your suggestions, I'll be ready, willing, and able to write one without the unnecessary bloatware and let the market decide what's really better. :)

    Meanwhile, give GPS Status a try.

    It's free, it's easy, you may not need to calibrate often and it's only going to cost minutes of your time to see if it makes the problem go away. ;)

    PS - GPS is not a geostationary system, the entire constellation is flying at half geosync. Geostationary, you could squeak by with addition and subtraction for a rough workaround to a calibration. With the birds in rapid flight relative to you, that really won't work so great.
    ironass likes this.
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  23. ironass

    ironass Well-Known Member

    Basically, the same as EarlyMon's suggestion of using GPS Status & Toolbox, to enhance and increase the fix but presented as a step-by-step guide with calibration methods and screenshots...

    GPS Fix - Dummies Guide
    EarlyMon likes this.
  24. EarlyMon

    EarlyMon The PearlyMon Moderator

    Most of the time, it's not a hardware problem - just a calibration or data issue. :) ;)

    PS - thanks for the link, I knew it was around here somewhere.
    ironass likes this.
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  25. icom100

    icom100 New Member

    I undersand that gps is not geostaionary, but to write a program that mearly calibrates a distance relative to a reading does not depend on it being geostaionary. You are thinking of actually doing something with the gps readings itself. Thats not what I am talking about. Im talking about an app that will take the gps distance that is already been calculated and mearly adding or subtracting distance by using a simple adjustment in the app. E G, I run on a track sometimes. My Runkeeper and Endomonfo apps consistantly read short. All the app would have to do is add or subtract a user defined distance to the reading and announce the new distance via voice, as the apps already do. Should not be difficult. Making this thread about you and your experience programming and running is not relevant, considering you already have superior equipment. Its for the rest of us who dont have the finances to buy such superior equipment. If you are willing to write your own program if they adopt my idea, then you dont really need these apps anyway. You should do your own and put it on the app store.

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