gps

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Rant: gpsOne is Not GPS

Pardon my rant:

I joined in the crowd talking about the FCC approval of the ho-hum HTC Iris because it's out there in the blogosphere and we here at WMExperts are super hip with the blogosphere, natch. However, I'm seeing it reported that the Iris has GPS. It does not. It has gpsOne. People: don't say a gadget (especially a rumored gadget that people might save up their pennies to buy) has GPS when it only has gpsOne.

What's the difference and what's my beef? Read on after the break.

What's gpsOne? Here's what Qualcomm says; here's Wikipedia:

gpsOne is primarily used today for Enhanced-911 E911 service, allowing your cell phone to relay your location to emergency dispatchers, one of the traditional shortcomings of cellular phone technology. Using a combination of GPS satellite signals and the cell towers themselves, gpsOne allows your location to be plotted with greater accuracy than traditional GPS systems in areas where satellite reception is problematic due to buildings or terrain.

Read: GpsOne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basically here's the difference: GPS provides very accurate location information that you can use in various applications like Windows Live Search, TomTom, or Google Maps. GpsOne is locked down 95 times out of 100 so all it does is tell 911 dispatchers your approximate. In fact, many folks who have tried to unlock gpsOne capabilities have found it to be inaccurate and have even ended up making their phones dial 911 by mistake.

The situation is even worse on Windows Mobile, actually, because many WM devices could use those chips if there were an API and carriers allowed developers easy access to the gpsOne chip. If you've been holding your breath for carriers to do something nice for you, stop: they're never going to. It's especially aggravating because, as Sbono13 notes, gpsOne actually can work on certain plain-jane featurephone in conjunction with Google Maps. When will we see GpsOne available for apps on a Windows Mobile device? I'm going to guess never. It's sad, but not too sad, because at the end of the day gpsOne isn't as accurate at true-blue GPS anyway.

Look, I want GPS native on my Windows Mobile devices as much as, if not more than, the next guy. Witness my slathering over the upcoming AT&T Tilt. But until carriers allow that gpsOne data to be used openly (read: never), quit thinking the "gpsOne" tickmark on spec sheets means that GPS is built-in. You're just sowing confusion amongst users and raising everybody's hopes.

Meanwhile, pick yourself up a Bluetooth GPS Receiver instead. Me, I'm going to go take my blood pressure medication.

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A story is making the rounds that Google Maps Mobile now supports GPS. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I've been using GPS in conjunction with Google Maps Mobile on my Windows Mobile devices for awhile now. Since February. Heck, I even posted a Valentine's Day Video detailing how to set up Google Maps with a Bluetooth GPS puck.

So congrats to you, Blackberry 8800, for getting GPS support in Google Maps Mobile. It's almost like your OS offers quality 3rd party app support and development. Almost.

Google's mobile maps software will now use the GPS capability of many newer handsets (with GPS carrier support) to pinpoint your location and make directions and navigation just that much nicer.

Read: Google maps for mobile gets GPS - Engadget Mobile

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Full GPS Chip on a SIM Card

Dang, the headline say sit all. Somehow a company called Blue Sky Positioning has managed to fit a GPS receiver onto the little SIM cards that are normally just used to store your phone number and a few contacts. The most surprising part, to me, is they've managed to do it without breaking one of the GSM standard for SIM cards: that they never draw more than 6 milliamps of power.

The secret sauce seems to be that the card uses the body of the phone (i.e. the metal, battery, etc that surrounds it) as the antenna - which neatly solves what would otherwise be a huge interference problem.

I doubt this SIM solution will really take off, but it at least serves as evidence that GPS receivers are coming down in size and power requirement in a radical way. That bodes well for the inclusion of GPS in nearly all future handsets.

At the SIMposium in Berlin, Blue Sky Positioning announced it has developed a complete GPS system, including the antenna, which physically fits in, and works from within, a mobile phone SIM slot.

Read: Blue Sky squeezes GPS onto a SIM | The Register

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Infosyncworld, among others, noticed that GPS, er, sucked in December - and posted that it was due to a solar flare. My own local paper elaborates with a story from the AP detailing how we can expect more of this excitement in the future:

The Global Positioning System, relied on for everything from navigating airplanes to transferring money between banks, may be threatened by solar flares, scientists warned on Wednesday.

The big problem is that solar flares occur in 11 year cycles - the next one is due in 2011. During our last peak, in 2000, GPS wasn't as widespread as it is now. I've heard from various doomsayers that your average GPS unit will experience 2011 in the same way that a newborn experiences light: bright, fuzzy, confusing, and not able to really identify anything specific.

So get your GPS fun in now, before the sun starts having its way with it.

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GPS Nav. for the Blind

This should have existed, oh, the moment GPS was commercially available. Nevertheless, I'm happy to hear that an Italian company is currently testing a GPS app written specifically for the blind. It's Symbian-only right now, but I have an extremely difficult time believing a similar app couldn't be written for Windows Mobile:

It requires just two dedicated keys on the mobile phone - one which, when pressed, tells the user their exact location including the house or building number and the other one alerts the call centre that the person needs assistance with navigation.

The next stage, the call from the call center, involved being given step by step directions from a human being in real time. Funny how my initial reaction to that is distrust (how many times have you been given bad directions?) - but not being blind means you can visually look around a map to see if something's accurate. So all in all, let's hope we see this sort of thing here.

Read: BBC NEWS | Technology | GPS navigation plan to help blind

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Here's a neat little app: MobileJustice. If your WM Phone has GPS on it, this little app can run in the background and listen for a certain SMS message - the one you send it asking where the heck it is - to which it auto replies with GPS coordinates. They recommend using it for lost or stolen phones, but I have a much better idea: Strap your phone on the back of a stray dog, wait two days, then go looking: extreme geocaching!

MobileJustice is a freeware anti theft application for Windows Mobile 5.0 based devices that allows you to monitor and search your mobile phone via GPS coordinates.

The application consists of four modules:

1. SimMon (sim card monitor, started at windows startup)
2. RemoteMonitor(parses incoming SMS messages and sending replies)
3. GpsReport (get GPS position and send it to phones listed in command line)
4. MJConfig (configuration utility)

Read: Tech[dot]Blog » MobileJustice anti theft for Windows Mobile PPC- Track and Monitor SIM card changes via GPS coordinates

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As promised, here's a quick video walkthough showing you how to set up a Bluetooth GPS "puck" on Windows Mobile. Credit goes to Microsoft, specifically the Windows Mobile Team Blog.

The benefit of this is you can use free mapping and directions software like (in order of my preference)...

....to find your way around. None of these free apps are particularly well-suited to being used while driving (even the new smart2go, which so far I'm not impressed with), but they're great for lighter usage.

If you don't already have a GPS puck, our store sells a few standalones.

If you're looking for just straightforward GPS-in-your Car for in-driving Navigation, though, I still think a bundle is a good way to go.

How-To Video is after the jump.

(Directly download the video here)

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Can I get a yowza? Available for download tomorrow, Feb 10th, Nokia is offering a free GPS navigation application called smart2go for Series 60 Nokia phones and, here's the shocker, Windows Mobile 5. The software will apparently work even if you don't have GPS available via a bluetooth puck or built-in. Looks like it's free because Nokia will also be offering optional, premium-brand travel guides, packed with valuable information and important tips."

If you are wondering how to set up GPS on your WM5 device, you'll find a nice set of instructions here.

Nokia today announced that it is making its smart2go mapping and navigation platform, available for free download (www.smart2go.com), enabling millions of people to use the most comprehensive map coverage offered on a mobile device. The platform allows for mapping and routing in over 150 countries and has support for full turn-by-turn satellite navigation in over 30 countries. The application allows people to view where they are on a map, search for points-of-interests (POI) around them and create routes to get them there free of charge. Nokia plans to start offering the smart2go application for free, on Saturday, February 10th, for selected Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile 5.0 devices initially and has plans to roll out support for most of the major mobile OS platforms including Nokia S60, Series 40, PocketPC, Linux and other Windows Mobile devices.

Update 3: it's up now, thanks for the tip, Paul! Now should I be concerned that the are listing the "Treo 650w", which doesn't exist in any world I live in? Nah.. Installing now.

(Thanks to MSMobiles for the tip. As they say, "Next logical step: Nokia mobile phones powered by Windows Mobile!")

Read: Nokia - ShowPressRelease

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2007: Year of the GPS Handheld?

The BBc reports (with requisite Nokia quote, hey, it's Europe!) that sales of GPS devices will more than double to more than 28 million devices this year. That's a lot of people who aren't lost anymore. I just hope that all these promised "location-based services" that everybody's been talking about aren't what I fear they'll be: the mobile equivalent of pop-up ads. Isn't it enough that I have to ignore they guy yelling at me to buy his "real Rolexes?" Now I'll have my smartphone telling me the same?

sigh. I may be a gadget nerd, but sometimes my inner-luddite pops out and grumbles.

According to the mobile industry, 2007 is the year when GPS will finally lock on to phones across Europe.

"GPS has been in the domain of the early adopters to date, but in 2007 it will come to the masses," said Marcus Dacombe, head of product marketing at handset manufacturer Nokia.

Read: BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Mobiles navigate the future

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Virtual Earth Mobile Updated

Virtual Earth Mobile has been bumped up to 1.69, adding a feature or two and a bugfix or two.

Virtual Earth is a really impressive app, though I have to say that so far it doesn't quite live up to Google Maps on the PalmOS. It does help fill the gap, though. As long as I'm being honest, I'll say that the Windows Live Search Beta for WM is also very nice and has pretty much replaced Virtual Earth as my mapper of choice.

For those of you who asked to be able to drag the map with the stylus, I've finally gotten around to implementing it.

I also added the option of getting directions in text form, for those of you who prefer written directions.

And I fixed a bug in "Add to Contacts" that appeared because the server is no longer returning zip cod

Read: Windows Mobile Team Blog : Virtual Earth Mobile 1.69

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