Whether you are a technology junkie or just bad with directions, adding a Global Positioning System, or GPS, device to your cell phone will offer you the peace of mind and convenience of never having to carry a paper map. Using phones as a GPS device allows you to get directions from your car, at home and even on hiking trails! These tips will help you install GPS tracking devices on a cell phone.
What exactly is GPS?
GPS is a series of satellites that emit a radio signal. The signal can be read by GPS satellite receivers. These receivers use the information to do something called trilateration. Trilateration is a mathematical process that enables a GPS receiver to calculate the position of an object.
In the case of a mobile phone, it tells the GPS device the exact location of the phone on the globe. This may sound confusing but a little bit of knowledge about how GPS devices work may be helpful before you read on.
When most people think of GPS tracking devices, they think of using them in a car to find the shortest route for a destination or to find the nearest gas station. However, you don't need to own a car any more to enjoy the benefits of GPS. Maybe you just want some directions to get to a new Asian fusion restaurant within walking distance of your apartment. Maybe you have kids and you want to know where they are in case of an emergency. Parents can easily install GPS tracking devices and GPS software in their children's cell phones to know exactly where their children are, greatly increasing the chances of bringing them home safely if something were to happen. The advancements in global technology make GPS devices more affordable and more user friendly, so you don't have to be a information technology (IT) tech to navigate the systems and install a GPS device in your phone.
Install a GPS tracking device
These days, you don't even necessarily have to install a GPS tracking device in order to track a cell phone. Besides actual devices that are compatible with cell phones, you can also download GPS software right to your cell phone so that they become a GPS tracking device. Many mobile phones come with a device called a GPS receiver that gives the phone the ability to be tracked from the satellites that orbit the globe. Before you install GPS tracking devices on your cell phones, consider what works best for you and your lifestyle, and your willingness and patience to take the time to install the GPS software on your cell phone.
If you own a car, you can purchase an all-in-one car kit, such as a Palm GPS Navigator Car Kit to use with your cell phones. Having GPS devices in the car is a lot easier than using paper maps. The car kit comes with a hands-free cradle for your phones that includes a speaker and an integrated GPS receiver that provides accurate directions and route calculations to the driver. Always check to see what cell phones this car kit is compatible with before purchasing this device for your car. If you install GPS in your car, one drawback may be that you are then stuck with a device in your car and it may not be compatible with all smart cell phones. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled smart phone, you can keep one of the many Bluetooth GPS receivers in your car to give you real-time directions. Again, if you install GPS devices in your car with either of these options, it might not work with all cell phones, so be sure to check with your mobile phone carrier before you purchase or install a GPS device that could work in the car.
Let's say, that you want your GPS device to be more mobile instead of it being only accessible from your car or boat. Perhaps you just want someone else to install a GPS device in your cell phone. Even if you aren't tech-savvy, there are easy ways to install GPS tracking devices on your cell phone.
Download and Install GPS Service Online
Many service providers, including T-Mobile and Verizon now offer GPS services on many of their more popular cell phones. All you need to do is subscribe to make your phone a GPS device. Subscribing allows the service to find your phone's location using the Internet; you are not required to install the device. Depending on the data plan you have with your cell phone provider, you may be charged for the download of the GPS application and/or the time you are connected and using the device. These added fees will definitely make your monthly cell phone bill jump for the convenience.
You can also install GPS tracking devices on cell phones by manually downloading a free service, like Google Maps for Mobile. Google Maps for Mobile works on most Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Java-enabled phones. You won't have to pay for the service from Google, but your cell phone carrier will charge you for the Internet time spent on the download or the tracking devices and for retrieving maps to your destination. With Goggle Maps, you can create custom maps on your computer and save them to your GPS devices on your cell phones. AccuTracking is another software to consider and one of the best devices on a cell phone for parents. AccuTracking is a dream for parents who want to know where their kids are. It offers three different subscription rates and allows parents to set up a virtual fence in their child’s phone. If the child leaves the boundaries set up by the parent (over the Internet), the parents are sent a notification. So much for easily skipping school these days! These devices on cell phones will put a stop to that.
There are many GPS downloads available in the application stores for the iPhone and the Blackberry as well. This will allow you to download GPS devices to your cell phone in seconds. For the iPhone, there is MobilNavigator, TomTom and Magellan Roadmate just to name a few. For the Blackberry, try GPS Tracker or Blackberry Maps. Both are free to download but remember that you are paying for the web-browsing time when installing GPS on your device, so it is not necessarily free.
It can be as easy as a trip to the electronics store or a trip to the applications store on your iPhone to install a GPS device on cell phones. Whether you click to download, or purchase a device for your car, you can be GPS-ready in minutes.
How do I know if my phone has GPS already?
Before you install GPS tracking devices on your cell phone, check that you don’t already have GPS. Call your cell phone carrier to find out if your phone make and model has GPS tracking before downloading additional software. You can also check the features of your account online or with a call to the cell phone company. Another quick way is to check your cell phone’s settings or preferences. If your phone has a GPS chip in it already, put the “E911” or “location” option to the “on” setting. According to Snopes.com, this “does not necessarily turn your phone into a beacon that is traceable.” It will, however, allow your phone to allow applications such as Verizon’s Navigator and Family Locator systems. These devices on cell phones will help to determine and track the cell phone’s location.
iPhones and GPS
A few examples of GPS software that can turn your iPhone into a GPS tracking device includes Mologogo, Instamapper and Buddyway (free if you register). You have to be sure you have a GPS enabled cell phone and web access from the phone before you can turn your mobile into a GPS tracking device. Each of these companies have software specifications posted on their website and some may be available for certain phone carriers and not others. Always be sure to check the section on their software websites for the list of supported cell phones before you install a GPS device or program. For example, Mologogo is available for certain NEXTEL and Motorola cell phones. You can also try devices on your cell phone such as BuddyWay. This allows you to find the cell phone’s location using the Internet once you install and provide the cell phone’s position to the BuddyWay server. The BuddyWay application allows the cell phone user to take photos and write notes to post on the Internet making it a great program for travelers whose friends want to know what you are experiencing and seeing while you are on a journey.
No matter what you decide to do to install a GPS tracking device on your mobile phones, be sure to follow the step-by-step installation instructions on each software website carefully. Whether you want to install a GPS tracking device for your car or just general maps, some installations will need to be done “over-the-air” or may require the downloading of a specific tool or application (App) to your phone. All require that you set up an account first to get their free service. Reviewing the different features will help you narrow down which GPS devices and software is best for you.