Thursday, July 19, 2007

N95/E90: GPS

"How to use GPS?"

I've asked this question on one of the forums and I know many who don't even have a GPS enabled phone (just for knowledge) may have this question in their mind. That is quiet a relevant question as not everyone has access to a GPS receiver. Its the same like once I used to think "How to use Bluetooth?" :). Of course not interested with the intricacy of the technology but just want to know what it does and what to do to make it work.

Other questions like "How much will I be charged if I use it?" , "Do I have to register at some place before using it?", "Is the operator involved in anyway?" were also on my mind.

I'll just tell how I used GPS on N95.
I found two GPS related applications on the phone "GPS data" and "Maps". There may be other application available but not searched as yet. As N95 has the GPS receiver and since this hardware can be accessed with Symbian's API's applications can be developed and the GPS data can be used as one wishes.

One does not get charged to use GPS. Your operator is no way involved when using GPS . If your application uses the operator services like sending sms , using gprs etc.. then you will be charged according to your plan.

"GPS data" application does not need any operator services (it does ask for the access point and transfers something for the first time but never saw it after that). When you start the application it tries connecting to satellites to get your exact location. You should be connected to least 3 satellites. It may take some time to get locked to the satellites. When the app starts a pop up comes saying "Searching for satellites" followed shortly by "Calculating GPS data". Then there's nothing until you are locked, which can take quiet some time. So mean while you can try the "Satellite status" option, which will show the strength of the satellites. The pic along side shows only one satellite as I am indoor right now. So when using GPS remember
  • Like all satellite navigation devices, the Nokia N95 may take several minutes to gather the location from the GPS satellites the first time it is used.
  • Make sure the Nokia N95 has a clear line of sight to the sky, and that the slider is open - the receiver is located under the keypad.
Once locked use other options like distance between two points etc...

On the other hand "Maps" uses the receiver as well as GPRS. It downloads map of your current location, thats where you get charged.

See its easy.

Check out more about N95 and GPS here.

Note: Using GPS does take a lot of battery :(


  1. Recently I noticed that every time I fire up "GPS data" app it connects to GPRS , which contradicts to my post that GPS data does not require any operator services. The thing is I just saved two landmarks on the device (my home and my friends home) , since then the connection thing started (thats what I think). But after deleting the saved landmarks, from the "Landmarks" app, the GPS data app does not connect to GPRS. Seems like the two apps are related in some way. Maybe it tries to calculate something , not sure .

  2. One more thing, I get a lot of hits on "E90/N95 GPS" post, all coming from search engines with the query "How to use GPS" , I hope my post is useful to them.

  3. your post is very helpful thanks for all the information. I just had one small question. You can set default access point in Maps using options, settings, default access point. If you set the default access point as your home network using Wi-fi than i don't think maps application or GPS data should use GPRS. so that you won't be charged. Correct me if i am wrong.

  4. You are right Ravi, maybe setting the default access point to WiFi will not incur any cost at all, but GPS will be always used outdoors. I've used it mostly while traveling , so I dont think we can bypass the operator :(

  5. you can download the maps for free using nokia map loader, you will need a micro SD memory card and thats all, the software is free from nokias website and so is the downloading. once the memory card is in the phone you can set the maps application to 'never use network' and you will have completely free GPS.

  6. Yes, this last post helps, once we download all the required maps with map loader from we can use GPS without accessing network by setting use network as "Never" as said in the earlier post.

  7. Your device connects to GPRS when you try to use GPS application because in your positioning settings you have selected the positioning server. This makes your device to connect via GPRS to Nokia's server and get the satellites table for a faster first valid GPS fix.

    You can disable that setting but then you will not have fast first GPS fix at startup.

  8. Ever since I ugpraded the N95 firmware for the first time and AGPS was introduced with it the phone always needs a GPRS connection. Which was not the case earlier.

    This is form an FAQ page on Nokia,
    * Assisted GPS (A-GPS) is a method to improve the usability of GPS. It enables the phone to obtain the satellite fix faster and more reliably. This results in faster positioning and hence significantly improved user experience. Assisted GPS requires an active GPRS connection in order to function.
    * It works by sending a small amount of data using GPRS. This data helps providing GPS satellite information to the handset via the cellular network.
    * Every time, navigation is started on the phone a small amount of data (a few KB depending on operators) is sent. Also, when the navigation is on, there is a small amount of data that is transfer using GPRS. The cost of this data is operator dependent.

  9. Thank you, this post was really helpful. You are right, even I reached here after a "how to use GPS India" search on Google.
    Good job!

  10. how can i use the maps application without GPS or GPRS ? i mean any alternatives like loading the maps apps and the map of india in the phone via a pc...will that help ?

  11. The application 'GPS Data' offers settings to enable/disable the mode of positioning. No such setting in 'Maps'. Google maps , if the maps are already downloaded' will allow network based positioning info. It uses triangulation technique to locate you between 3 cell towers.

    Try google maps for s60.

  12. hai you guys are fantastic gps is completly free it even work with out sim

  13. does anyone know about using gps on the e65 model?

  14. Hi nice info on GPS. What am i supposed to do to enable Network based positioning? The GPS Data application prompts us to select satellite based positioning(integrated, AGPS). It seems N/w based positioning doesn't work...

  15. here you can find a solution in the forum for importing Nokia landmaks .lmx to Google earth.



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