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GPS showing incorrect locations

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by mimmic, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. mimmic

    mimmic Member
    Thread Starter

    I know I mentioned this in another thread, but I got to thinking about it. My return date is coming up (extended holiday return period) and I wanted to see if anyone else was having this problem or if it was in fact my phone and I should swap it out.

    My phone is placing my location in places I haven't traveled to or haven't been to in a long time. It is usually placing me ~200-300 miles away from my current location. I'm in Dallas, TX. Occasionally I'll unlock my phone and the HTC weather widget will say I'm in Destin, Houston, San Antonio, and even once in Florida. Now, I can go into google maps and let it find my location and it is very accurate.

    If I give it time the weather app will correct itself, but then later when I unlock my phone it will have done it again. I've tried using the weather channel app and widget and a few others. They are all having the same problem as they pull the same GPS data.

    Is this a problem with my GPS chip? I've done a bunch of soft resets, pulled the battery while the phone was off and let it sit for a few, pulled the battery while the phone was on and let it sit. Nothing seems to be helping.

    I just turned my phone off and back on and sure enough it reports I'm in san antonio, tx. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. TJLeonard

    TJLeonard Newbie

    My eris actually does that too...

    I will be in Nashville, NC (very small town), and it places me in Nashville, TN, which is a time zone over.....and my time is wrong and of course weather. I just hard set it to be Raleigh, NC, and it's close enough. Let me know what you find out though.
  3. mimmic

    mimmic Member
    Thread Starter

    I have since done a full factory reset. It is still getting incorrect locations on the widgets. My google maps is still reporting the correct location..... I'm currently trying to contact HTC about this, but their support line seems to be busy.....no answering service at all, just beeps at me.
  4. mimmic

    mimmic Member
    Thread Starter

    I was finally able to get HTC on the phone and told them the processes I had gone through. They immediately told me to get get another phone. They have not heard of any problems like this, they do not believe it is a software issue. So, off to the Verizon store I went, and sadly they had to "order" me a replacement which means I'll be getting a refurbished phone.

    As long as it works, I'll be happy though.
  5. OfTheDamned

    OfTheDamned The Friendly Undead

    No idea if this will help or not ( I hope it does), but I noticed something last night that was effected a friends phone in a similar way.

    Go into Settings > Applications > Development and see if the Allow Mock Locations box is checked. This happened on a friends Hero and it was reeking havoc with some of his apps.

    Also, I think that the weather widget pulls your location from cell towers and not GPS. This would be the reason that Google maps is showing your correct location and the other stuff is not.
  6. Caddyman

    Caddyman Android Expert

    well eris has agps i thought, which uses gps and narrows it down with cell triangulation.

    that said, have you tried the *228 and 2 option? might right your ship...
  7. OfTheDamned

    OfTheDamned The Friendly Undead

    I believe it uses both GPS and aGPS. In this particular case though, I think it only uses cell triangulation for the weather widget/calendar location setting. It is viewing your area the same way that Google maps will, if you have GPS turned off. Meaning that you will get a very large area representing your location and it could be off by 100 meters or even 8500 meters, all depends on where your cell towers are. The 200 to 300 miles that the OP is reporting is far beyond what should be happening though. Although, I really have no idea how the cell towers are set up or distanced in Texas. Using a cell tower 200 miles from your current location would be impressive.
  8. aleis

    aleis Android Expert

    im getting upset cause ever since i did that manual update to the 1.17 rom i`ve been having this problem....
    my gps has always been accurate now i feel...lost!
    can i wait to the nexus one...?
    i`ll try!
    i wont :)
  9. HP2

    HP2 Newbie

    If you have "Wireless Networks" checked under My Location, then the phone is using the cell towers to triangulate your position. If you have both "Location Setting" and "Use GPS" checked, then the phone will more accurately detect your position. I was having this problem under Google Maps, and then I realized that the GPS would give your exact location.
  10. OfTheDamned

    OfTheDamned The Friendly Undead

    Yes, that is the equivalent of turning the GPS on. It is more accurate, but eats the battery. With mapping and/or navigation the GPS is always the best and should be used. When we are talking about the weather and the weather in the calendar the local towers "should" work and give reasonable and accurate information to the program. With application like these the GPS is kind of overkill.
  11. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Android Expert

    The most plausible explanation with all the folks who are reporting similar troubles is that the problem has nothing to to do with the GPS hardware in the unit, but the Weather app itself.

    Note that most folks experiencing the problem say "When I use Google Maps and have GPS turned on, my position shows up correctly".

    Whether or not the Weather App uses GPS location or Cell tower IDs, it doesn't change the fact that the Weather app only appears to have a finite number of "locations" to match against - and judging from reports from folks who report matches on city name (but wrong state), or matching to a location 8 time zones away - it seems as if the weather app does not actually use latitude/longitude to find the "closest" location. It's doing something else instead of that.

    It is possible that if the GPS unit doesn't have a good view of the sky, or if it has been turned off for a long period of time, that the fixes it creates are wrong. But that's the way all GPS units act - if you cold-start them (and they do not have any prior ephemeris data or prior fixes), it can take many minutes to get a correct fix. After the first good fix, they are faster to get a new fix - so long as you didn't jump on a plane and travel cross-country with the GPS off.

    If you truly think you are having a problem with your GPS, take it outside, turn it on, and and let it sit for 6 minutes - and then check the location in Google Maps. Then turn off GPS, and turn it back on again - you should get the same fix within a more reasonable amount of time (say < 60 sec).

    If you are really curious, download "GPS Status" (EclipSim) - you can see where all the birds are and what kind of strength you are getting (Green is Good!)


  12. Podivin

    Podivin Android Expert

    Reasonable, good logic, clearly worded, nice trouble shooting.
    Clearly you don't belong here, I'm sorry sir, we're going to have to ask you to leave... :)
  13. OfTheDamned

    OfTheDamned The Friendly Undead

    The weather app actually gets its data from accuweather and should match up to any location in the US with no problem. Not sure if the limited number of locations you are referring to is the list in the app itself or not, but I have been in some pretty small towns with this phone and the weather shows for all of them.
  14. mimmic

    mimmic Member
    Thread Starter

    I did try just about every combination of any location settings I could find. I did verify my allow mock locations was turned off (I saw that a long time ago when I turned off the stay awake while charging option but double checked yesterday to be sure it was off).

    I've had this phone for over a month with zero problems (aside from relatively short battery life but it's not a big deal for me) and a few days before I made the original post is when things started getting weird. I had no problems getting the correct weather in all the locations I've been in the past month. It was usually pretty fast as well, within a minute or two of crossing a city line it would update the location and weather conditions. It never once placed me outside of the city I where I was located.

    Today it was pretty good about giving me the correct locations, but last night it told me I was in Houston, TX again, which is roughly 250 miles and 4 hours south of my location. I have not been to Houston in 12-15 years.

    While this might be some type of software error, HTC assured me if a factory reset of the phone did not fix the problem I should get another, so I'm patiently waiting for my replacement which should arrive tomorrow.
  15. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Android Expert

    I don't doubt what you say.

    The GPS hardware module on the phone produces "fixes" which are latitude, longitude, and Z-height relative to a geodetic model.... so, to get to a "place name", a database external to the phone needs to be consulted to convert lat/lon to a place name.

    If there is an apparent error in the place name that is returned, then either (A) the lat/lon data was incorrect to begin with - or (B) the method used to convert it to a place name is incorrect (which could be due to errors in the database).

    There are lots of unincorporated areas in the US - so looking up a "place name" either needs to perform a single lookup, or a lookup followed by an approximation. If the database contains actual boundaries of cities and states, then a lat/lon coordinate that is in an unincorporated area would return no result - and some other method would need to be used to return (let's say) a "nearby place". An alternative to prevent this is to have a "Fake Boundaries" database - whoever creates it parcels the entire surface of the earth into place names, so that an arbitrary lat/lon coordinate is guaranteed by construction to always return a place name. Either way, there is some fudging going on.

    The situation is completely identical if something else besides lat/lon is used to look up a place name - for instance cell tower IDs. (Arguably, this is even more likely to contain data entry errors).

    I went back and looked at the OP's post. Note he says:

    That's sort of why I speculated that the problem was the Weather App - but after further consideration, it seems that a more likely scenario is is that the GPS module occasionally produces bad fixes. Since it is likely that the Weather widget is right in the OP's face every time he/she stares at the phone, it is more likely to see a erroneous place name in the Weather widget than in Google maps (which is visited far less frequently than the weather widget is read). Also, if the Weather App only looks for GPS fixes occasionally, it will also display an incorrect location longer, too.

    Having said that, it's hard to know whether it is a reception issue or a genuine hardware issue. In particular, carrying your phone indoors, and very close to your body (in a pocket) is likely to produce pretty poor GPS satellite reception and bad fixes.

    As I said, you can certainly use the "GPS Status" (EclipSim) app to avoid trying to determine if there is a hardware problem by looking at place names - note that the GPS module on the phone produces an error estimate, and "GPS Status" displays this metric.

    Or, get the unit replaced - and report back whether the issues still remain after the swap.

  16. omfgwtflawl

    omfgwtflawl Well-Known Member

    Nevermind, should've read a bit more :p
  17. OfTheDamned

    OfTheDamned The Friendly Undead

    That is why I think it is more the method of look up than it is the app. I assume the OP is using cell tower data to get the weather and location info. I also make the assumption that he is turning on the GPS for Google maps. I don't really know which is the case as it has never been stated.

    The app "should" be running as a simple process of the phone showing his current location (either through GPS or cell towers), retrieving the loaction information from accuweather and then displaying that information on the screen. The only ways for the app to have a problem are A) the location info is wrong B) accuweather provides the wrong info based on the location given C) the app processes and displays the info incorrectly. Obviously that is an overly simplified version of the events :cool:.

    Now, obviously as you and I have both stated the cell tower triangulation method can be pretty inaccurate. I think this is the real culprit in this problem. I guess we will just have to wait and see when he gets his new phone. Either way, I hope the problem goes away.
  18. tensai

    tensai Lurker

    I've been searching for a few days. So far this forums is the best match I've found to my problem...

    I have the motorola droid, wife has eris. So far we're very happy with both. Except that her phone has always reported an incorrect position in Google Maps, Weather, etc. Not multiple states or time-zones away, but always 1-3 miles off. I'd checked that all the location options were set, but it never helped.

    The other day, I turned off the option to use cell towers to triangulate, and only enabled GPS. Immediately her phone locked onto her exact position using the GPS. I've downloaded and installed GPS Status and can see that it does maintain a good lock on several satellites, even while indoors.

    If I re-enable cell tower triangulation, her location again jumps several miles away, even while the GPS is still enabled and on. So I'm happy with just using the GPS.

    The problem now is that, google latitude NEVER updates her position. Even if I open maps and let it find her in the correct place, latitude still shows a position from 3 days ago which was several miles off even then. Settings are all correct, same as on my droid which works perfectly in every case.
  19. mimmic

    mimmic Member
    Thread Starter

    Other odd things happened today.

    Took my phone off the charger at 7:00am. Went to work did things as usual, checked my email etc on my phone. I was making sure the apps I use were killed after I was done. My phone beeped at me around 11:30am telling me it was at 30% battery life....

    I immediately went to check the awake time to see if I had left an app running that would run the battery down etc...the awake time said 31%.. So.. I double checked my app killer and there was nothing running (besides normal htc stuff) By 12:30, the end of my lunch it reported 10% and at 1:00pm said 5% and then died shortly there after.

    I have not had any battery problems besides the first few days I had the phone. I'm wondering if my GPS chip went crazy trying to get my location all day and drained the battery. I sure hope FedEx shows up soon so I can switch my phone.
  20. Hollywood

    Hollywood Lurker

    Same as Tensi said , Have droid and two eris both eris gps latitudes are always several miles off , Droid always perfect ,its obvious that there is a problem with HTC . They should respond here
  21. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Android Expert


    Just curious,

    When you open up Google Maps (the app, not web page), and zoom in fairly tight (so that the width of the display contains 10-20 city blocks) to the position reported using Menu -> My Location, does the position display you see for the incorrect position look like the image on the right, or the one on the left:



  22. Hollywood

    Hollywood Lurker

    When I look for my other two Eris phones of my employees, they show their name's flag, except they are 2 to 8 miles off from where they are actually at. My Motorola Droid is always correct.
  23. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Android Expert

    Sounds to me more like they are using Cell Tower based location, (which can easily be that far off), and don't even have their GPS radios turned on.

    Settings -> Location -> Enable GPS satellites ( & Location Setting) checked.

    or, put a widget on one of the home pages and use that to toggle GPS on/off

    + -> HTC Widget -> Settings -> GPS

    The reason I asked about Google Maps is because it displays an uncertainty circle corresponding either to the fix error reported by the GPS, or just a broad circle for tower location. Seeing a broad circle would more likely indicate that Cell tower location was being used.

  24. Hollywood

    Hollywood Lurker

    All of the above is done , both eris phones still inaccurate
  25. erisuser1

    erisuser1 Android Expert

    You might want to have the owners download the free app "GPS Status" (EclipSim).


    That will tell you immediately if there is a GPS reception problem - which can easily happen indoors (depending on the nature of the building, car, or the instantaneous satellite constellation at the point in time you look). It is possible that the GPS module + antenna in the Moto Droid achieves a better SNR than the combo in the HTC Eris... but without actually checking error estimates generated by the GPS units side-by side, that's just speculation.

    In the above figure, the left view is a few seconds after turning on my GPS - note the error estimate of 192 m. The display also shows the number of "visible" satellites, and the quality of the signal from each. Under good conditions (typical for me, even inside my house) it is a small number - a few meters. The right hand view is at the same location a few moments later (the elapsed time difference shown is not significant - the 6m fix occurred within about 10 seconds, but I didn't grab the screenshot until later).

    If you want to avoid the use of Google Maps on the phone, you can plug in the Lat/Lon numbers into a PC web browser @ Google Maps (in the search box) if you want to check the fix.



HTC Droid Eris Forum

The HTC Droid Eris release date was November 2009. Features and Specs include a 3.2" inch screen, 5MP camera, 288GB RAM, MSM7600 processor, and 1300mAh battery.

November 2009
Release Date

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