Industry Insider Explains How Some Android Products Can Use GPS Without Data Plans

dgstorm

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Sometimes it takes looking at things from a different perspective before you can ascertain all of the facts. A good example of this is the myth that you have to have a cellular data plan to use GPS on an Android device. It turns out that many Android devices have a GPS system built in that only requires the correct app and configuration.

This particular tidbit of Myth-busting comes from a member of one of our sister-sites, over at RZRForums.net. For the sake of clarity, this is NOT a website dedicated to the Motorola RAZR series. This is actually a website dedicated to the Polaris RZR All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). At any rate, the member, username Redneck_Engineering, wanted to clear things up and offer some useful info regarding using Android tablets/phones as GPS systems when you are exploring off-road in your ATV. He is an industry veteran, and actually works for a worldwide GPS Navigation Company.

He shared the following info which not only clears up the misconception, it also gives great advice on how to get started using your Android device as a portable GPS for your ATV (or other wilderness exploration) needs. Here's a quote from his post,

Now where many of you are getting side tracked is when you open the standard cookie cutter Navigation apps such as Google Maps, Google Earth, or etc. And the app reports "no data connection" or the moron at Best Buy tries to tell you that that means it requires data....the app and the Best Buy goon are correct but incorrect. These cookie cutter apps DO require data in order to provide map backgrounds and visible layers but NOT GPS...and that is why you will always get a "no data connection" message from these apps.

To utilize the true GPS in your phone/tablet you need to download a TRUE GPS support app such as BackCountry Navigator Pro or alike. You won't get a "no data connection" warning from these apps because the only thing they use 2G/3G/4G/WiFi for is to display the background layers and maps if not downloaded to the device internal/external storage....otherwise you wont get a background map but you can still use the GPS to record track logging and waypoints. However, with apps such as BackCountry Navigator Pro you can download mapping layer tiles directly onto your device from the app (caveat that you must do this with a successful data connection before hitting the trail) so that you can see them even when no data service is available...you can additionally import/export all your common *.GPX and *.KML file formats from ANY device into most apps that are TRUE GPS based apps!

So just to recap the highlights here:

1.) You ONLY need data services if you want to see non-downloaded background layers (i.e.- Aerial, Topo, Streets) from your phone/tablets GPS or if you are using a standard cookie cutter app such as Google Maps or etc that require data otherwise they are useless apps

2.) A TRUE GPS app for phones/tablets relies on the integrated GPS Receiver and NOT cellular/data for it's position (unless you might be using some cheap ass phone/tablet that does not have a TRUE standalone GPS integrated) and thus provides location based upon Satellite Constellation and not a "can you hear me now" plan.

3.) If you purchase a good GPS App on your phone/tablet that will allow you to download/import map tiles to/from your devices on-board memory you can see any of the downloaded/imported map tiles with or without cellular or even GPS !...there is zero point to #1 again as explained under #1 and thus makes this only a 2-pt recap!

I personally have explored today's current GPS App Market for the BEST all-around App out there for your Smart Phone or Tablet and BackCountry Navigator Pro is the best all-around App for pricing, ease-of-use, Import/Export capability, and integrating with your current GPS Handheld or Desktop Software.

I have posted a "Quick Reference Guide to using BackCountry Navigator Pro for Smart Phones or Tablets" at the following location:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...ion 0.01.pdf

Please rate whether or not you found this information helpful or not for others. Thanks and happy Rzring!

Feel free to check out the rest of his post over at RZRForums.net.

Here's a direct link to his article: The FACTS about using your Smart Phone or Tablets GPS for Trail Riding - Polaris RZR Forum - RZR Forums.net
 

DougDroid

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Now that is good to know! I don't know how many times I've been out in the middle of nowhere and thought I had to have signal to use my phones GPS.
 

Tonik

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I have used CoPilot on my motorcycle for years for Nav because it installs the maps right on the phone. No data required. You can limit what states you download or download the whole country.

Works very well, preplan trips, drag and drop route changes. It rocks.
 

VirtualCLD

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I thought everyone knew this because it was patently obvious, but I guess I was mistaken! I used to do this for years when I had a Blackberry with no data plan. I still like to cache maps so I can use GPS when I'm outside of network coverage. Now if only the GPS antenna connection on my Sammy GS3 didn't suck so much! I tired tightening the back cover screws, but that only worked for about two months.
 

LoneWolfArcher

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Also thought this was common knowledge.


This.

However, I have to say, Polaris rules!! Though I prefer their Ranger UTV to their Rzr UTV. (OP, the Rzr is a UTV (side-by-side) not an ATV.) The RZR is more for racing, while the Ranger is a true working utility vehicle.
 

RETG

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Also thought this was common knowledge.

Me too. But I guess many don't realize that a lot of us travel off-road with a table that is only Wi-Fi and we use the built in GPS with an app like BC. And even my droid Maxx, in the middle of nowhere with NO cell signal will use "my tracks." I use it all the time when hiking to record the distance and time and in the places I hike, cell service is not a reality.
 
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