Android GPS works without Internet

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Rishi Kashyap
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Android GPS works without Internet


Android GPS does not need internet to work. I knew it and saved Google Maps offline on my Android phone Intex Aqua i5 for some road trip. I tried to use offline map with Android GPS on road but was having trouble to get my GPS location. Later I contacted Customer care and talked with their technician. They told me that GPS will not work without Internet. They talked about A-GPS and other jargons. It was waste of time and I returned.

Since I am a mariner I knew how GPS works, we have been using GPS since joining merchant navy in 2004, to track our ship and plot positions on BA Charts without internet. I did general testing to prove this and found interesting facts. The problem was not with Intex Aqua i5 but some settings.

Back at home, switched on GPS without internet and my position started to show on map making me wonder what went wrong! Android location services in the setting have A-GPS and GPS EPO settings. These settings help GPS to track your location faster. This does not mean accuracy and frequency of location update, but decreases TTFF (time to first fix). What happens is with internet Android device first finds out your approximate location from your IP. With this approximate location data, your device know which GPS Satellite to search for to track your position. Number and position of GPS satellite above your horizon also affect position. Since  without internet it was taking longer time I got fed up, perhaps patience would have paid then too !

Another myth about Android GPS is that they are GPS transmitter. There is no such thing as GPS Transmitter! It is only receiver or more correctly GPS Tracking unit. Each GPS tracking unit calculates the device location in geo-coordinates (read latitude and longitude). It stores that data or passes it to some application which uses internet to transfer this calculated position, it is never transmitted using GPS !! In Android phone this application is Google map which takes the calculated data and plots this position on Google Map. Google map needs internet to display the map details unless you have downloaded Google Maps offline. Also check out Offline Google maps limitation for better use of Google Maps.Android GPS works without Internet

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