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Toys Wireless Networking Hardware

Using the GPS Features on Cell Phones? 41

Posted by Cliff
from the geocaching-anyone dept.
Rylor asks: "A couple of years ago I bought the Samsung 300NP cell phone, which has a GPS feature that I can turn on or off. The primary purpose is to meet the Emergency 911 calling requirements laid out by the FCC. I've checked the manual several times and it only says that I can use the GPS feature for anything service I want, but that's it. Sprint doesn't offer anything else about it. So my question to Slashdot: if you have a cellphone with this feature, what cool ways are you using it?"
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Using the GPS Features on Cell Phones?

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  • Shopping
    Driving
    Geocaching
    Spying
    • Re:Hiking (Score:4, Funny)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @08:35AM (#7834075) Homepage
      • Shopping
        Driving
        Geocaching
        Spying
      Yeah, just to amplify on the parent post, it's really useful when driving. Yesterday, for instance, I got turned around as I was driving, and the GPS on my cell phone really came in handy for figuring out which direction I was going, without even pulling over. See, with my left hand I used the cell phone to get a GPS fix, while with the right hand I sketched a latitude-longitude grid on the inside of the windshield using a red grease pencil. I marked my location on the grid, and then after traveling another couple of blocks, I repeated the process and marked my new location on the grid. Voila, that told me I was driving west! The only real problem was that the grease-pencil diagram was a little hard to read, because the setting sun was in my eyes.
  • There are none. (Score:3, Informative)

    by xyzzy (10685) on Monday December 29, 2003 @10:54PM (#7832430) Homepage
    AFAIK, no carrier has developed applications for the GPS in phones yet. But in theory, it would allow you to get localized directions, or 411, etc.

    Keep in mind that it really isn't "GPS" in your phone, but a hybrid using the cell tower for help.
    • Some phones use a literal GPS receiver in them, and report position data over the network. Others use tower-based triangulation methods. The E911 bill has different accuracy requirements for handset based and tower based location services. I think handset based has to locate the user within 50 yards, and tower-based has to do it within 100 yards, but thats all off the top of my head.

      --
      lds
    • Re:There are none. (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, on my phone I can ask for directions 'From my location' to somewhere else. If I choose 'From my location' it locates approximately where I am and uses that information for a starting point. I'm not sure if it's using GPS or not, but the feature is still pretty neat and could certainly be used with GPS. Also, my phone lets me choose 'Sites and Attractions' which uses some type of positioning system to determine where I am located and tells me what dining, resteraunts, etc. are near me.
    • benefon has had a phone with true gps for years(esc!), with maps. features include showing your position on other similar phones maps if you wish.

      the fake 'gps' function however would work with any gsm phone anyways and the services offered for it are mainly for tracking(if the phone leaves a certain area & etc..).
      -
      there's pretty cool app for series60 phones though, that will change the sound profile according to which gsm cell you are in(so that you can have it turn on or off everytime you go to work/
  • by Mordant (138460) on Monday December 29, 2003 @10:59PM (#7832449)
    She always remarks on how 'coincidental' it is that we run into one another when out shopping, etc. ;>
  • by El (94934) on Monday December 29, 2003 @11:03PM (#7832470)
    Use the GPS to create a map of all the areas where the phone works reliably, and where it doesn't work... aren't digital phones constantly touching base with the cell towers anyway? Then they could get rid of that obnoxious guy constantly walking around saying "Can you hear me now? Good!"
  • by sofo (18554)
    Lets just say that with some home-brew hardware I know where all you naughtly little monkeys are at all times!!!!

    Taco... steer clear of Graceland for chrissakes!
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday December 29, 2003 @11:11PM (#7832511) Homepage
    I suppose you could always call a specific number with only three digits to see if it works.

    "Do you know where I am now?... GOOD!"

    Of course you might get in trouble but oh well ;)

    PS: For the humor impared... DON'T DO THIS

  • Well subject says it all. I can already get wireless internet to my PocketPC via bluetooth. Take that another step and add GPS as well, and I could have a handy dandy direction finder. I've run into cases where that'd be useful.
  • If you want to check out some Series 60 apps, go here [my-symbian.com] and put "GPS" in the search box.
    • Well, that would be one application to connect to a bluetooth GPS device, and one doing some simple location stuff from the name of the cell. Probably useful, but nothing like GPS. Not at all.

      GPS is about knowing where you are, not knowing that you're not where you were.

      The Nokia Series 60 phones are not GPS capable.
  • by mockojumbie (303033) on Monday December 29, 2003 @11:20PM (#7832555) Homepage
    Our company (Blue Cove) is currently testing GPS apps with with major carriers, one of which will be enabling commercial Brew applications to use the Snaptrack (Qualcomm) servers that provide the MS-based and MS-assisted capabilities in the next few quarters across the US. For obvious reasons they don't want apps and the public to use the same physical servers as E-911.
    All Qualcomm CDMA chipsets now have GPS functionality. You should be seeing traffic, POI, mapping and all sorts of geo-games this year.
  • by raindog2 (91790) on Monday December 29, 2003 @11:35PM (#7832638) Homepage
    I contacted Sprint last winter to ask how I could use the GPS functionality in Java applications to run on the phone, or on a web site, with an eye to making something like a little map of the area with little dots telling me the relative positions of myself and my business partner, for example. They told me to sign up for their developer mailing list and website. I did that, and upon diving into their development forums, found that their party line is that such programming information is proprietary, and that they have some kind of exclusive contracts in place with other parties who are supposed to be rolling out services Real Soon Now.

    A year later and still nothing. I've stopped bothering with it myself, and keep the locator feature turned off.... it will still tell 911 where you are regardless. Maybe someday one of the other carriers will open up this feature and someone will develop a killer app so that Sprint has no choice but to follow, but their handling of independent developers leaves a lot to be desired thus far.
    • About a month ago I completed a J2ME training class. We used the Motorola i730 throught the Nextel network. We were able to write a couple of small apps that accessed the GPS network and send the phones location via kXML [enhydra.org] to a Servlet running half way across the country.

      Nextel is very protective of their network, so you do have to jump through hoops to get permission to load apps onto phones "connected" to their network.
    • I also had some interactions with Sprint about access to development information. What I found was that generally when they say they are working with a third party to roll out services soon, it means that they are looking for somebody to pay them lots of money to offer said services, and they haven't found that somebody yet.
  • I've got an LG VX4400, it's a great phone, I can connect to the internet with it @ about 64K using Verizon's ExpressNetwork, but as far as I've been able to figure out, there isn't anything I can do with the GPS.

    The LG phones are supposed to programmable via qualcomm BREW [qualcomm.com], but I don't know first thing about it - perhaps there is some API to read GPS, and may be another to initiate an IP connection and send it somewhere?

  • This link [devx.com] seems to have some relevant info.
  • by stienman (51024) <adavisNO@SPAMubasics.com> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @12:20AM (#7832806) Homepage Journal
    There is no full GPS unit inside the phone. Instead it takes the GPS signal, does some limited processing, and sends the information to the cell tower it's in contact with. The cell tower has the remainder of the equipment to finish the processing (including knowledge about its own location and the signal it's receiving) and can locate the phone to within the usual resolution of GPS (several meters on a good day)

    To use the phone as a GPS unit, one would have to write an app that used airtime to connect to the tower and get the coordinates to display on the phone itself.

    I suspect that for the next few years we will barely see more than location based spam and perhaps a few games that will ultimately fail in which location plays a role in gameplay.

    In short, the only cool use so far is calling 911 and knowing that in two years they should be able to locate you...if the GPS signal is good enough.

    -Adam
    • There is no full GPS unit inside the phone. Instead it takes the GPS signal, does some limited processing, and sends the information to the cell tower it's in contact with. The cell tower has the remainder of the equipment to finish the processing (including knowledge about its own location and the signal it's receiving) and can locate the phone to within the usual resolution of GPS (several meters on a good day)

      This isn't necessarily true. Some of the newer phones, such as the Motorola i730 do have ful

    • There is no full GPS unit inside the phone. Instead it takes the GPS signal, does some limited processing, and sends the information to the cell tower it's in contact with. The cell tower has the remainder of the equipment to finish the processing (including knowledge about its own location and the signal it's receiving) and can locate the phone to within the usual resolution of GPS (several meters on a good day)

      SnapTrack [snaptrack.com] is licensing hardware to select phones [snaptrack.com] that does include satellite reception a
    • May be true for the sprint phones... but my i58sr (Nextel) has a full GPS in it that pumps out NMEA just great. (Verified just now by using selective tinfoil placeing to have no cell service but still be getting a couple satellites)

      However... that is about all it does... The only way to see the data on the phone is by asking it for your position... after an eternity (or a short time if you leave the engine on all the time and toast your battery life) you get your lat and lon....

      That's it... no waypoints..
  • i just purchased the motorola i730 on the nextel network that leverages a java app called telenav or www.telenav.net it is a full blown gps program... NOT leveraging cell towers but requiring a connection with at least 4 satellites at all times to receive an accurate signal with varyiong degress of accuarcy +/- 150 ft. I am still testing it's GPS capabilities for work though it is very similar to the garmin units found in a hertz rental car. it does virtually everything the big garmin units do for 25% of
    • I'v been using the GPS (not tower based) in my I88s for over a year now in wardriving. One less piece of equipment I needed with me when roaming around.

      Just switched from Nextel (tired of a year of misbilling each and every month) to Tmobile. Going to ebay the I88s and go by a dedicated GPS unit I suppose.

  • Like another poster stated, it isn't really a GPS unit but more of a relative position finder to the nearest tower.

    I have sprint service as well and just upgraded my phone to one with this service. I turned the locator on and checked the weather using the wireless web option and it gave me the correct local weather (no zipcode needed). When I went to a neighboring community about 20 miles away I check the weather again and it gave me the new city's weather forecast.

    There could potentially be plenty of s

  • This company [ulocate.com] is marketing a service (covered in this NYT article [iht.com] (cached at the IHT)) that tracks phones on which it's java app has been installed. The service is being marketed to parents and employers and allows access to the location information via a website. They'll also send email alerts whenever a phone travels outside a predefined set of boundaries (a "geofence"). Pretty cool.
  • There are a few phones that have an actual GPS in them, but for the most part, the "GPS" feature in the mainstream phones use tower based triangulation, along with some other calculations to be more precise.. Most of these phones don't even have a way to report the location info to the end user..

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