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So basically how do GPS's work?

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by sevenmad, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter


    Is it true that GPS systems on android work solely on the net? That means for navigation and other stuff you have to be connected to the internet?

    Its because i've tried installing Sygic but it doesnt work. I live somewhere where most of the time i dont have access to internet so im looking for a software which can give me navigation offline.


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  2. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    You shouldn't need a data connection for your Android phone's GPS system.

    Car navigation apps like Sygic, Navigon or CoPilot can use a data connection for traffic infos, but they don't need it for navigation.

    I use my Navigon app with data connection switched off when I'm in roaming areas :)

    sevenmad likes this.
  3. anne785

    anne785 Guest

    GPS system doesn't require any internet connection it works based on the radio signals.
    sevenmad likes this.
  4. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor

    The internet is needed only for downloading maps and traffic data. maps wont be a problem if you have them offline.
  5. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Thankyou :)

    So which software do you recommend? Can you give these softwares an address and expect it to "navigate" you?
  6. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    Yes, turn-by-turn navigation apps do this.
    I recommend Navigon and CoPilot :)

  7. BigRedGonzo

    BigRedGonzo Android Expert

    To answer your original question, android phones have a built in GPSr chipset in the phone. If you were dropped from a plane in the middle of the Sarengetti with the phone turned off, when you turned it on and initiated an app that used the GPSr, you would eventually (it could take several minutes) get a GPS lock and be able to navigate. Where the internet connection comes in and where a lot of confusion lies, is that android phones use and aGPSr system (Assisted GPS Receiver.) When you have a WiFi connection, the phone uses whatever means at its disposal to assertain your current position very roughly and then quereries the internet for a positional map of the current satellite locations. This does nothing but speed up your GPS lock, but it does speed it up dramatically. After the lock is established, the GPSr chipset maintains a database of satellite positions for your current location and when you try to get a positional lock again, if you don't have an internet connection, it uses the last known satellite postions. This usually speeds up non-assisted locks quite a bit, unless you have moved a fairly large distance from the location of your last lock. I have read that this distance can be as small as 25 miles, but I really don't know for sure. Anyway, in a nutshell, an internet connection only speeds up your GPS location lock.

    As for navigation software without internet connection, I have tried a few and find that CoPilot works very well. Your maps are downloaded to your phone and the company (ALK Technologies, I think) does quarterly map updates, which is pretty good. I have found one or two mistakes on the maps, but nothing significant. There are other packages that people like, but CoPilot is my preference. I hope this helps a bit.

    sevenmad likes this.
  8. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter

    A bit?! Bro that helps a lot! Ill check out copilot since most of you have recommended it. btw what do u think of sygic and navitel?
  9. deltaforce

    deltaforce Android Enthusiast

    I have used Sensation XL and now on One X. I have to say that both of these phones are f&^*ing awesome connecting to the satellites, when my 2 year old Garmin 1390 is a big ret@rd.

    I never understood why folks say that GPS needs data, I never needed it (as explained above) and actually google navigation does a pretty good job on turn-by-turn directions as well, yeah it may not do a great job in NYC but I am content with its job where I live. Have you given a try to Navigation?
  10. BigRedGonzo

    BigRedGonzo Android Expert

    Glad I could be of help. I've never tried either of those, of course there are a ton of them out there.

  11. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Okay guys lets be honest: copilate is not free and i am no condition for paying... Do u know any free apps? Thankyou
  12. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter

    Wow my cousin also has Xl and he always talks abt how great the gps is... i always thought he was bragging!! lol good to know i was wrong
  13. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    You might try Navfree

    Seems to be good for a free navigation :)

  14. deltaforce

    deltaforce Android Enthusiast

    Its good for free navigation but its hard to get the house numbers in the address (in the US). I always had to choose intersection. It is a good beginning but its no way closer to regular GPS. I would prefer Navigation instead. Could the OP tell me why he doesn't prefer navigation? It does give me turn by turn direction on my One X, Is it different on other devices?
    sevenmad likes this.
  15. sevenmad

    sevenmad Lurker
    Thread Starter

    I do prefer navigation but i dont have the needs for paying right now. And if its only the house numbers which dont work i wouldnt mind, so long as it gets me into the street itself!
  16. Gorf123

    Gorf123 Newbie

    You can actually use a non-GPS phone (or a phone with GPS switched off) for navigation - albeit it's a bit cr*p.

    My daughter's first iPhone didn't have a GPS receiver - a fact I didn't know as I was trustingly following her directions to a wedding a couple of years ago. It seems that Google was using triangulation of cell towers as the basis for determining location. It did reasonably well, but to actually find the hotel I had to turn on my old HTC Artemis which had TomTom installed...
    sevenmad likes this.
  17. CyberAlien

    CyberAlien Lurker

    My car navigation broke down recently, I'm looking to use my S3 as GPS and need a decent app for it.

    So far I've tried several free applications, but all of them rely on Google to navigate. Google's navigation is not available for my location, so all of them are useless for me.

    coPilot has been recommended in this thread, so I tried it, but it doesn't provide all information that I want. Things that I'm missing there:

    • Speed limits. My car navigation used to show speed limits, it was very convenient feature. I'll need it because I'm planning big trip across Europe, and each country has its own speed limits. coPilot doesn't seem to have it.
    • Voice telling me to turn left in X kilometers. Looks like coPilot does have voice in full version though, but it doesn't work in free version, so I can't check it before considering purchasing full version.
    • I need to see how far should I drive before next turn. coPilot doesn't seem to show it correctly - number in bottom left corner is always stuck at 2.3 (or something like that) kilometers (maybe its some other indicator?) and its in tiny, hard to read text.
    • Rotating map is a bonus. I'm used to it because my car navigation used to work that way, but coPilot always has north on top. It isn't required.

    Does anyone know decent app (free or paid) that can do all of that?
  18. Harry2

    Harry2 Extreme Android User

    Are you sure that you have a proper version of CoPilot ?

    I've an older version on my HTC Desire which does all this what you asked.

    Navigon on my HTC One X also does all this what you asked, but a little bit better as CoPilot.

  19. dvhttn

    dvhttn Android Expert

    I have the CoPilot 'free' version and in relation to your points above:

    1) Speed limits - I'd check the signs at the side of the road :D No telling when some may have changed for 'local' reasons.

    2) Navigation - free version has a display but no voice navigation.

    3) I guess display size is always a problem in a car and you can't really look away from the road for too long .... so you'd need to get the 'paid for' version for voice.

    4) I miss a 'head up' display and I emailed CoPilot about this and apparently this function is only in the 'paid for' version.

    Anyway, in view of the above I may well purchase CoPilot.

  20. CyberAlien

    CyberAlien Lurker

    Thanks. I have free version that has some limitations. I thought only being able to download only one map and no voice were limitations. I'll check it again.

    Of course, but being able to see limits in navigator helps a lot when driving in some countries.

    So they do have it? Nice.

    Thanks for replies, I'll keep testing it.

    I have also tested Sygic today. It has 14 day trial that is fully functional.

    It does everything I wanted, but there are minor issue with selecting addresses: for some reason it doesn't allow to select building number and when clicking on map, it selects whole road instead of exact location where I clicked and directs me to beginning of that road. I might be missing something obvious...

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