It may be the case that you’ve simply lost trust in your mobile’s GPS after it failed to take to you to where you wanted and instead almost had you drown in a nearby lake. But we’d encourage you not to dismiss your phone’s G PS. The GPS receivers in mobile devices have become increasingly accurate. Moreover, their integration with Google Maps and other apps that use location data makes smartphones convenient tools for determining where you are or where you’re going. Yet, most phones cannot match a dedicated GPS receiver for speed and reliability, especially in remote areas where you might not get a wireless signal. Thankfully, you can get the best of both worlds by pairing a Bluetooth GPS unit with your Android phone. Then, whether you’re driving or on foot, you can give your apps access to accurate location data anywhere.
Step 1: Scan for devices
Before you can receive location data from an external Bluetooth GPS receiver, you need to pair it with your phone or tablet. Go to your Settings app, activate Bluetooth and tap Scan. If your mobile device discovers the GPS receiver’s signal, it will appear under Available devices.
Step 2: Pair them up
Tap your GPS receiver’s name under Available devices. Some Bluetooth devices require you to enter a numerical code to confirm pairing. If you get this prompt, enter the code that came with your GPS or 0000 if it doesn’t have one. This should pair and connect your two devices.
Step 3: Get the app
To access data from the external GPS receiver you will need to install a third-party app from the Play Store. For this tutorial we used Bluetooth GPS. It’s free, has an easy-to-use interface and is compatible with GPS units that conform to NMEA standards.
Step 4: Reveal hidden features
Your location-based apps can’t access data channelled through Bluetooth GPS until you override your phone’s internal GPS receiver. Go back to Settings and tap About device. Then look for Build number and tap it repeatedly. This should unlock your device’s concealed Developer mode.
Step 5: Allow mock locations
Once you have unlocked Developer mode, it should appear in the Settings app. Tapping on it will open up a new list of options that have tick boxes next to them. Ignore those that refer to debugging and look for Allow mock locations. Tap on its tick box to approve this setting.
Step 6: Find your receiver
Exit the Settings app and launch Bluetooth GPS. It will open to a screen titled Main where location data will be shown after you connect to your GPS receiver. Tap on the drop-down list beside the Connect button to see all your paired
Bluetooth devices. Select your GPS unit.
Step 7: Connect over Bluetooth
With your GPS receiver selected, look below the drop-down box and select Enable Mock GPS Provider. This confirms that you want location-based apps to receive data from Bluetooth GPS. Tap the Connect button to begin receiving positioning data.
Step 8: Eyes in the sky
You can tweak settings in Bluetooth GPS from a menu that can be accessed by tapping the three dots in the top-right corner. If you swipe right-to-left, you can also get a graphical display of satellite strength and accuracy. These indicate how reliable the GPS data is.
Use Bluetooth to boost your GPS data