How to improve GPS accuracy on Android
30 March, 2019 11:27 am
The GPS sensor on your smartphone is essential for the use of navigational apps and services, such as Google Maps. However, sometimes your GPS signal can go wonky, getting you lost in a new city or interrupting your Pokemon Go gym battle. You don't have to worry, however, since there are ways to fix and improve location accuracy. We'll show you how!
What is GPS?
It's helpful to understand how GPS works in order to optimize it. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and was developed by the US Army in 1973, but it was released for civilian purposes in the eighties. It was initially used with 24 satellites but now there are 31 operational GPS satellites in orbit.
Your smartphone communicates with these satellites via a GPS antenna, which is part of the hardware in the vast majority of current smartphones and tablets. The antenna is connected via a driver to the software. This means there are three main sources, which GPS problems can arise from:
1. The number of GPS satellites at the current location
2. The quality of the GPS antenna in the smartphone
3. The implementation of the driver in the operating system
Switch on High accuracy mode
To get the best possible signal, you have to be prepared to use a bit more battery than normal. It's a necessary sacrifice, and you can always reverse it later when you don't need to use GPS anymore. Enabling this is easy; just follow a couple of steps and you'll be on your way.
Go into your Settings and tap Location and ensure that your location services are on. You should also be able to enable it from the quick toggles when pulling down the notification bar.
The first category under Location should be Mode. Tap it and make sure it's set to High accuracy. This uses your GPS as well as Wi-Fi and mobile networks to estimate your location. Of course, this setting will use more battery but will utilize all available methods to give you the most accurate location possible.
On some smartphones you will also find additional options under Scanning in the location settings page. You can enable Wi-Fi scanning and/or Bluetooth scanning. The first will improve accuracy even further by allowing apps and services to detect Wi-Fi networks at any time. The same applies for Bluetooth scanning, which will detect Bluetooth devices nearby.