05/06/2010, 12:48 AM
I'm trying to open a thread where those who wish to contribute to finding a TECHNICAL solution to Palm Pre GPS issues (most likely Verizon) can collaborate in an environment uncluttered by conspiracy theories and other complaints that do not help us progress towards a solution.
Here are some guidelines I'd like to see followed for this thread:
- No Verizon conspiracy theories, please. They may very well be doing it, but proving that or complaining about it is not the purpose of this discussion. If we happen to somehow prove that the evil Big Red empire is indeed crippling GPS, we'll be sure to let everyone know.
- No complaining. There are a lot of other GPS threads you can use for that. We're trying to find solutions here.
- No requests for others to file complaints with the various consumer protection agencies or with Verizon. We're not waging a legal or political battle in this thread.
- Now that the "don'ts" are out of the way, please do tell us your testing and troubleshooting results. Don't exaggerate or make other wild claims - this erodes the quality of the data collection. Be as specific as possible about things like when your last reboot was, were you moving, what GPS program(s) were you using, how long it took to get a lock, your region of the country, the weather that day, your location services settings (Google Services on/off, auto-locate on/off, etc), and anything else you think may add to the cause.
- No bashing others for their brainstorming or ideas (unless they violate the rules listed here.) This is a community of passionate people with passionate ideas, but we must have patience with ourselves and others who are frustrated by the lack of good answers to this problem to-date. I'm confident that we can can find answers, if not solutions, to this elusive issue. Thanks!
To start us off, here are a few things that seem to be helpful for those looking for answers:
Turning Google Services to "off" under "Locate Me Using" in the Location Services menu prevents the GPS programs from returning inaccurate results based on cell tower information rather than an actual GPS lock.
Opening VZ Navigator and either leaving it open or declining the purchase agreement often results in solid GPS locks for all programs within seconds, even after trying unsuccessfully without opening VZ Nav.
Dialing ##477# takes you to a menu where you can ask the GPS system to attempt to get a location fix.
Some folks have reported better success getting GPS to "wake up" with different GPS-enabled programs such as Send My Location for WebOS and Trapster. Google Maps seems to be the most troublesome for getting the elusive initial fix.
Rebooting the phone has been reported in some cases to improve results when attempting to get a GPS fix.
Here are my current beliefs compiled from my observations and those of others:
1. Initial lock is difficult to come by. A clear view of the sky seems to help. (duh) The GPS receivers in phones are not as powerful as those in, say, your Garmin nuvi or TomTom. They make take a long time to get an initial lock, but once they do, it should be pretty solid.
2. VZnav assists with initial lock by providing aGPS data, including satellite orbital information to the GPS unit, allowing a fast GPS lock.
3. The phone may be storing a cache of old satellite information that VZnav either updates or clears upon launch, allowing the GPS to start fresh and look for satellites.
4. Rebooting the phone also seems to clear this cache, if it exists.
So, it appears that Verizon is not crippling the GPS, but they are certainly appear to be going out of their way to make sure they don't assist it.
UPDATE: I was able to email myself GPS "results" from Nice GPS Superior today while standing in my parking lot at work under a clear sky, having cleared the list of results from within that program, and asking it to get a new set of location data. It showed the rotating progress icon for about two minutes, then told me I was about 12 miles away from where I actually was, moving at 44mph. Not surprisingly, I recognized the returned location as the last time I had used Google Maps (or any other GPS program) while driving (passenger, actually) home the day before. This reinforces my belief that there is a stored cache of GPS information on the phone, as not only did NiceGPS Superior return old results, it actually told me I was moving at 44mph! I repeated the "Get Position" function twice with the EXACT same results - exact same coordinates and same speed, which tells me that it wasn't a false result based on the position information updating, but definitely old data from some sort of cache. Now, this is no knock on NiceGPS Superior, as I have had Google Maps, Send My Location, and other GPS programs return old results in the past. I think it is a matter of the GPS system supplying its last cached data if a new fix cannot be acquired quickly.
Now, commence problem solving!