Google Maps android app doesn't know my exact position
September 28, 2014 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I have no problems with Google Maps as a navigation aid. It always finds my exact location and turn by turn directions works perfect. But when I first start the app (so I'm in map mode, not navigation mode), I get a large pale blue circle around my location.

It can't pinpoint my exact spot because GPS does not turn on until I start navigation. It should come on automatically when the Maps app is fired up, but does not. Location services is High Accuracy and yes, GPS is turned on. Running Maps 7.5 on my Galaxy S4.
posted by ga4ry to Technology (10 answers total)
Do you keep wifi on? My phone takes a long time to get gps without WiFi. Also, have you tried pushing the little gps icon on the map? Does that work instantly?
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2014

I think this is normal behaviour for all smartphone GPS apps. It takes some time to resolve your location. All you can do is help speed it along by being as much in the open as possible to avoid blocking the GPS signals.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2014

Response by poster: The frustrating part is that the GPS never comes on unless in nav mode. So that large blue circle never gets smaller like you see when GPS satellites come into view. I'm convinced it's a settings issue. I uninstalled Maps and reinstalled it, to no avail.
posted by ga4ry at 7:27 PM on September 28, 2014

Does the dot look like this? This was just taken on my Android smartphone and I think it's the only type of location dot I've ever seen on this phone.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2014

Fwiw, I have the same issue. Since I rarely if ever use the maps and navigation, I just assumed it sucked and continued to not use it.

Have you tried it in another maps app like map quest? Or, if you already have the gps working for another app like Tracks, does it come on right away or do you still have to open navigation?
posted by 724A at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2014

I had similar but not identical problems, and below is what I did to solve them.

I used FasterGPS to set an NTP server that was in the same country as me. This helps tell the phone where you are physically located, so it's not thinking that different satellites are in view when they are located in another hemisphere. Then I used GPS Status and Toolbox to clear the A-GPS details, so they could be refreshed, which seems to happen automatically. You might also try GPS Test. It'll show you all kinds of detail about what info your phone's GPS is picking up on, like which satellites are in view, the SNR, etc.

There are a couple of other settings to pay attention to. I clear the data from all of Google's apps when I'm done using them, and every time I re-enable the GPS, I get two prompts. The first is asking me if I want to allow Google to track my GPS in the background (though it's worded less scarily than that). I deny this one. The other is about allowing Google's apps access to the GPS data. If I disallow this, then (unlike your situation), Maps will get a lock and follow me around, but Navigation won't. Allowing it lets both Maps and Navigation work correctly.

For what it's worth, I leave High Accuracy and Battery Saving modes turned off and rely on just GPS, and I'm using v7 of Maps.
posted by Solomon at 2:11 AM on September 29, 2014

Have you tried tapping the Current Location icon (it's on the bottom left on my Samsung, looks like a dot surrounded by a target reticule/compass points)? That's supposed to find your current location, using whatever location sensors available.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:00 AM on September 29, 2014

Location services are determined by 3 things. Cell networks, GPS, Wifi.( Accuracy in that order).
Android by default disables gps unless the app specifically calls for it for battery saving purposes.

Can you go to waze or some other app and see if it shows your location?.It should show the location icon in your status bar. Go into airplane mode which will determine your location only by gps.
posted by radsqd at 9:19 AM on September 29, 2014

Response by poster: Today, I was on a bike ride and using MapMyRide, which is a Strava-type app that tracks my route via GPS. It was working accurately. While GPS was active, I stopped and opened the Maps app. I still got the great big blue circle and wasn't accurate to my true location in Maps. But it was accurate in MapMyRide. I tried this in Airplane mode too but no luck.
posted by ga4ry at 6:58 PM on September 29, 2014

Have you tried what Ends of Invention recommended? It didn't occur to me that you wouldn't be doing that, but my Google Maps won't find my current location until I tap the find button.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:26 AM on September 30, 2014

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