GPS: A Tale of Two Playbooks
After listening to so many people complain about the PB's GPS function, and after considering how the reported experiences differed greatly from my own, I decided to do an experiment. I took two of my three PBs - both 32GB models running OS 188.8.131.522 - and, after a security wipe, side loaded Google Maps 6.11.1 onto both of them.
One of the PBs has been my workhorse for nearly 18 months and has always given me a reliable GPS fix. The other is a brand new PB that I've kept in reserve as a backup in case my primary device keeled over (prudent planning when you live on an isolated 3rd world island).
I cold booted (from power-off) each device, then took them outside my front door and tapped the "Compass" icon in Google Maps to trigger the GPS fix function. Here are my results:
Workhorse PB: Google Maps fixed the location in 7 seconds with only one tap on the icon.
Brand New PB: Google Maps fixed the location in 1:40 seconds after 4-5 taps on the icon.
Conclusion: Not all PBs are made equal. It seems that my "daily driver" PB, which has been by my side every day and has gone through every OS update since the 2.0 Beta, does a much better job of acquiring and locking a GPS signal than the brand new PB, which has been sitting unused in its neoprene sleeve since I received it last August.
Alternate Conclusion: The PB "learns" how to better acquire GPS signals through constant use and exposure to the sky?
Anyway, I thought I'd throw these results out there for discussion...
- CrackBerry Genius
03-21-2013, 12:05 PM #2
- 3,273 Posts
Maybe give the new PB a few more chances and see if things speed up. FWIW, in Google maps (6.2) I get a fix before the map has completely loaded. And that's inside on the second floor of a three story house, though my location is off by maybe 20 or 30 yards. Outside, I generally get a much more accurate reading.
- 03-21-2013, 12:29 PM #3
I'm not sure how doing a 'wipe' alters things, but I think generally, the PB will get a fix quite quickly if you are in roughtly the same area as you were last time you used the GPS. However, if you had a fix, then turned off the PB, moved 100 miles, then tried to get another fix, it would be a lot slower than if you were still in you own local area (ie the one that the PB last 'knew' where it was).
Hope that makes sense. (It does to me, but its been a long day!)
I did a wipe to ensure that both configurations were pristine. That's benchmarking/testing methodology 101. As for location, I've experimented with my "daily driver" PB in different locations on the island, but the spots were never more than 20-30 miles apart. I'm travelling back to the U.S. next week, so it will be interesting to see how quickly my PB gets a fix when I emerge from JFK after having flown 11,000 miles or so...
- CrackBerry Genius
03-21-2013, 01:47 PM #5"THE GUY YOUR MOTHER WARNED YOU ABOUT !!!"
- 3,479 Posts
I'M ON MY OWN IGNORE LIST===
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."
Bottom Line: The PB *can* function as a GPS device, but it's a bit of a crapshoot as to whether any particular unit will perform adequately in the field. So far, I've been lucky and had good results in a limited geographic area. It will be interesting to see how it performs on the other side of the world. Right now, I've got half the Eastern seaboard pre-cached to my PB, so if it fails it won't be for lack of data.
Sent from my BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps using Tapatalk 2
- 03-21-2013, 03:23 PM #8
I am lending a friend my TomTom for Europe. His patience for technology is a bit thin. I have warned him that it could take 15-20 minutes or longer when he wakes it in France after 6,000 or so miles.
- 03-21-2013, 03:57 PM #9
AFAIK, many GPS units will store their last known position so that when the GPS is re-started it has some initial idea where it was and can quickly get a fix. If you move a significant distance without the GPS on, or don't turn it on for a few hours, the GPS has to re-load the ephemeris data... and potentially the almanac data (which is a 10-15 mins process)... and is why the last position is stored, as it would be unacceptable to have to wait a quarter-hour of driving for your car satnav to tell you to "turn left ahead"!.
So I agree with the others, to fix in a few seconds, even after a wipe, implies to me that the GPS has found and used the "old" position data.
As an exercise for the interested reader, do it again, but wait 6 hours before re-loading the GPS app. That way, the ephemeris data will be stale and need update from the satellite. Almanac data goes stale after a few months... so I doubt anyone would be interested enough to try that experiment. LOLProud Member of the PlayBook Beta Test Team (Since June 2011)
- CrackBerry Genius
03-21-2013, 04:01 PM #10
- 3,273 Posts
- CrackBerry Abuser
03-21-2013, 05:59 PM #11
- 295 Posts
You know, that's got to be it....I was going to point out that my handheld GPS unit, a Garmin, has an option on setup to tell it where you are and what time it is, or (the manual says) you can just let it find out for itself, with the advice that doing so will add several minutes to a fix. This also applies when (again, the manual says) turning the unit on after a significant move from its previous fix. It would probably be a useful help item to avoid all the foaming from those who expect an immediate reaction. I just launched Bing Maps, for example, and it got a fix in three seconds, inside (although next to a window).
- 04-21-2013, 11:44 AM #14
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