Never owned a cell phone. Totally lost. Possible to have maps with no service?

Discussion in 'Android General Discussions' started by ktroy, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. ktroy
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    ktroy New Member

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    This question may be a bit vague, but I am wondering what I need in order to get portable google earth or similar without cell service.
    I heard there are apps such as back country navigator and navfree that give you maps for free, but I don't know the first thing required to get these.

    Essentially, what I want is any kind of Satellite imagery that does not require cell service. A gps to give my approximate location would be very helpful too. I don't need turn by turn directions. I would like to be able to download all the imagery I need before going on a trip and having the maps when I need them. ( If possible )
    I enjoy google earth because it allows the use of tilt with satellite imagery so you can see mountains and terrain with the imagery overlaid... but that's not essential.
    The kicker is I never owned or operated a cell phone in my life. What android do I need to buy to get maps with a gps? Would the Motorola droid X work? I am totally lost on the requirements or hardware needed.

    I want to use it for hiking. for instance, in the middle of nowhere being able to use the device to see what's over the hill on the other side... house? barn? field? woods?... via the satellite imagery. Or if I see a road, where does it lead, the direction I am heading?
    I would have no use for the android other than this, so 100% of the space could be used for imagery data. Is what I want possible without cell service?


    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. iamjoe
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    iamjoe Member

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    You need to pay for gps/data service. Your phone may be capable of providing a gps-based service, but it's not free. If you are not receiving a cellular signal from a provider, then you don't get to use the gps feature of your phone.


    There are free apps out there, but you can't use them unless you have cell service. I use google maps. It's great and it's google (big bucks, no whammies)
     
  3. dezymond
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    dezymond Tech Support Mod Staff Member Premium Member

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    Basically as far as you're going to get with Google Maps without a service is the pretty much the same experience you get from your PC. Get directions through Wifi on your home and then you can bring those instructions with you on your non-activated cell. You won't have GPS, but I've used my retired OG Droid a few times like that and it's come in handy. Beats printing out directions everytime or even draining battery from my current phone.
     
  4. ktroy
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    ktroy New Member

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    Everything I read is so contradicting.

    This is from the backcountry navigator site:
    BackCountry Navigator is an Android GPS app that runs on both Android smartphones and tablets.

    With BackCountry Navigator, your Android phone becomes a complete outdoor topo mapping GPS device. It works without network coverage or data connection. A user only need to pre-download their topo map and it can be viewed offline in the forest and wilderness areas where there is no network connection. BackCountry Navigator Android GPS app can completely replace a handheld GPS device, which makes it convenient and flexible for the users.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.crittermap.backcountrynavigator

    Not sure what to believe but thanks for the help so far! Any information is beneficial on my quest to finding a portable GPS map system.
     
  5. Nexus_King
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    Nexus_King New Member

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    Sounds like backcountry is exactly what you're looking for.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
     
  6. ktroy
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    ktroy New Member

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    I'm reading now that if I buy a phone that has been reset to factory defaults, None of this is possible because you cannot even get into the phone without a verizon number.
    Is there a way around this?

    Thanks
     
  7. mayham2k
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    mayham2k New Member

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    Offline Maps

    You can download maps of certain areas for "offline mode" in Google maps but hitting the menu/multi-function/ button. You can do this with up to 10 areas and there is a maximum size. You can do it over WiFi too. I have an old Droid that I kept after upgrading and I can still use it as a GPS.
     
  8. Quick
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    Quick Member

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    Technically there is no reason for it not to work. The phones themselves do true GPS. It's not "pseudo" GPS from cell tower triangulation any more.

    I have a decommissioned/deactivated D2 that no longer has cell service/phone number.
    I use it mainly for a fancy alarm clock and backup phone in case of a disaster with my D4; but it still connects and does data just fine over my WiFi lan at home.
    GPS also appears to work fine. Here is what I did to sort of check that:
    [GPS off WiFi on] Run Maps. Right after Maps loads I get a popup saying to improve location accuracy to turn on GPS and wireless (cell). exit Maps.
    [Turn GPS on] Run Maps. No popup. exit Maps.
    [Turn GPS off] Run Maps. I get the popup again.

    So you should be able to load apps and updates directly from your PC, or connect to the internet for data (Google Play and whatever) through WiFi.
    and GPS should work just fine.

    Am I missing something?
     
  9. ktroy
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    ktroy New Member

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    THANKS! This sounds perfect! I just want to download some local maps and use it for hiking with the gps. I don't mind paying for some handy apps here and there.

    Off I go to buy a used Droid X on ebay. :)

    Quick, a question for you. If you are on wifi and open maps with gps on, does it show you a rough estimate of your location?
    Also, would the GPS work in maps outside a wifi hot spot? (like, if you downloaded the maps to your phone)

    Thanks :)
     
  10. mayham2k
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    mayham2k New Member

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    Once you download the area map for offline mode all you need is GPS reception to use the app. Once you go outside of that area it will still work, you just won't be able to find new places outside of the offline map area
     
  11. Quick
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    I don't use my phone for maps (I have gps nav in my car). The Maps app I tried the above with is the Maps app that came with the phone (Google Maps). I don't know what or how Google Maps decides what map data to download. I assume it's enough for whatever region the phone is in but I have no idea how large of a region that is. For example if I started in CA and drove to Ohio I assume the app would download ("local") map data a few times along the way. Way back when, on my Palm Treo I had a map app where you downloaded specific regions (I think it was pretty much by county). So if I was going from CA to Ohio I would load the appropriate regions onto the phone before leaving. No idea if you can "pre-fetch" areas with Google Maps. Without a cellular data connection you may not be able to update your map data while you're on the move. Something to consider when looking at other map apps if Google Maps doesn't suit your needs. Most home ISP service comes with free hotspots at various locations. I've got AT&T u-verse at home so I can use free WiFi hotspots at a boat load of locations (Starbucks, etc.). You might be able to stop in and update your maps over WiFi while you're on the move or just before you head out into the wild. Might not have to buy anything other than what comes on the phone.

    Ummm, yes? The way the phone (droid/android) does location is to use the most exact source it has available (maybe that's up to each individual app but I think most all do it this way).
    [disclaimer: I don't have much of a clue about this]
    From least accurate to most is:
    IP location: I think they take your IP address and get an approximate location from that (IP addresses have to be routed through physical routers so you have a geographical approximation).Good enough for something like localized advertisements.
    Haha, some interesting black helicopter reading here: IP address can now pin down your location to within a half mile | Ars Technica

    Network (cellular location): If you have wireless service then they can triangulate from the towers your phone is talking to (usually a few of them at any given time).

    GPS: Most accurate naturally.

    Yes. So in your case you should be able to do it a couple of ways.

    If your app automatically downloads/updates it's map data then it will need 1) a data connection to download the data and 2) location so it knows what map data to download. WiFi would give you the internet data connection and GPS your current location.
    If the app (or service) lets you pre-fetch or specify what map data you want to download then you would only need the WiFi to get it over the internet.
    I suppose there are still apps where you could download map data to your PC and then you could transfer what you want to your phone over USB. Had a lot less resources on my Treo and that app worked that way. Downloaded the whole country on my PC but could only load part of it on my phone at a time (how big a part depended on how densely populated the part was :)).

    Once you have the app and map data it needs on the phone you should only need GPS to use it.

    ...I would maybe get some confirmation on apps and operation from people who have actually done what you have in mind before making the investment though. I haven't left the house with my D2 since deactivating it...
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  12. Quick
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    Just thinking there have to be some sites/forums for geo caching where there are people re-purposing phones as gps units.
     
  13. xmguy
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    xmguy Active Member

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    Look on Phone Arena.com for any phones that are Android powered that state they are S-GPS. This means they don't need the cellular assistance in knowing what satellites are in the sky. It will take longer but does work. For instance my Motorola Bionic has this feature. I can clear any internal GPS data and turn off ALL cellular radios. Turn on my GPS satellite finder and though it takes a few mins it WILL see the satellites as well as pull usual data as UTC date and time. Sunrise and sunset. Altimeter, etc. There are apps you can get that use this function and work off pre loaded maps. I know its possible. The apps are usually more costly. But cheaper than a stand alone GPS receiver.

    Sent from my Motorola (Droid) Bionic.
     
  14. Elen
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    Elen New Member

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    Thank you very much....this is perfect solution...I have tired using GPS and wifi and it is working perfectly fine.
     
  15. ktroy
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    ktroy New Member

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    quick, your the man, thanks a ton for all the help. After going through your responses and reading some other forums I bought a X2 off ebay with a bad esn. I don't plan on ever purchasing cell service so I think it should be ok.

    Like you said, I probably should of confirmed on the apps and stuff before buying but I just wanted something to fool around with and get me in the door with this whole mobile gps/internet thing. Plus I dont know anybody with phones like these.

    Not sure about the whole S-gps though, I don't think the droid X2 has that but the apps say the gps will work without wifi.. so....??

    Thanks again all!
     
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