About Using GPS on Your Samsung Galaxy S 4

Having a GPS map on your Samsung Galaxy S 4 is a very handy tool. At the most basic level, you can ask your phone to show you a map for where you plan to go. This is convenient, but only a small part of what you can do.

With the right applications, your Galaxy S 4 phone can do the following:

  • Automatically find your location on a map.

  • Give directions to where you want to go:

    • As you drive, using historical driving times

    • As you drive, using real-time road conditions

    • While you walk

    • As you take public transportation

  • Give turn-by-turn directions as you travel:

    • With two-dimensional representations of the road and intersections

    • With three-dimensional representations of the roads, buildings and intersections

  • Tell others where you are.

  • Use the screen on your phone as a viewfinder to identify landmarks as you pan the area (augmented reality).

There are also some mapping applications for the Galaxy S 4 for commercial users, such as CoPilot Mobile Live from ALK Technologies.

You can’t talk smartphone mapping without GPS in the background, which creates a few inherent challenges you need to be aware. First off (and obviously), there is a GPS receiver in your phone. That means the following:

  • Gimme a sec. Like all GPS receivers, your location-detection system takes a little time to determine your location when you first turn on your phone.

  • Outdoors is better. Many common places where you use your phone — primarily, within buildings — have poor GPS coverage.

  • Nothing is perfect. Even with good GPS coverage, location and mapping aren’t perfected yet. Augmented reality, the option that identifies local landmarks on the screen, is even less perfect.

  • Turn me on. Your GPS receiver must be turned on for it to work. Sure, turning it off saves battery life but precludes it from working for mapping applications.

  • Keep it on the down-low. Sharing your location information is of grave concern to privacy advocates. The fear is that a stalker or other villain can access your location information in your phone to track your movements. In practice, there are easier ways to accomplish this goal, but controlling who knows your location is still something you should consider, particularly when you have applications that share your location information.

Good cellular coverage has nothing to do with GPS coverage. The GPS receiver in your phone is looking for satellites; cellular coverage is based upon antennas mounted on towers or tall buildings.

Mapping apps are useful, but they also use more battery life and data than many other applications. Be aware of the impact on your data usage and battery life. Leaving mapping applications active is convenient, but it can also be a drain on your battery and your wallet if you do not pay attention to your usage and have the wrong service plan.

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