Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Google's Quasi-GPS

My cell phone bill is nearly $100 a month just to get my basic phone service with something like 500 anytime minutes (my unlimited nighttime minutes don't start until 9:00 pm) and my blackberry enterprise service. Thankfully work covers my blackberry fees (or else I wouldn't be using it), but it still leaves me with what I feel is an overpriced plan for a phone I don't use a whole lot. The thing is, I have the 2nd cheapest plan through the perennially evil AT&T. The cheapest is just ridiculous and I can't see anyone using it since there's hardly any minutes available.

Anyhow, one of the features my blackberry has is GPS. I can't use it, though, unless I add on a $10-$20 GPS service onto my monthly bill. It'd be cool to have GPS but, frankly, I wouldn't use it much since I don't leave the metro area very often.

Leave it to Google, though, to come up with a free pseudo-GPS function added into their Google Maps application on my blackberry. It was rolled out probably 6-9 months ago and it wasn't that accurate. It could locate me in a 1,000 meter radius or so, depending upon where I was in the metro. Cool as it was, it wasn't useful since it would show me 5 blocks away from where I actually was which didn't help when driving.

Now, however, there must have been some updates because as I was tinkering with it yesterday I noticed that it was locating my position accurate to within 3 meters at time (usually between 5 and 10 meters, though). That's almost GPS like tracking using cell tower signals (I'm assuming). Who needs GPS with this kind of accuracy using my cell's signal that I don't have to pay extra to use?

I'm sure that once I get out of the metro area it won't be as accurate, but I don't see myself needing it to be ultra-accurate when I'm driving out in the country and there are turnoffs every mile on average. It's awesome to have a free GPS alternative and hopefully it'll stick it to AT&T and get them to allow GPS usage for lesser fees or, God forbid, free. If you have a blackberry, download the Google Maps app and give it a whirl. It's pretty damn useful.

No comments: