Rant: gpsOne is Not GPS

Pardon my rant:

I joined in the crowd talking about the FCC approval of the ho-hum HTC Iris because it's out there in the blogosphere and we here at WMExperts are super hip with the blogosphere, natch. However, I'm seeing it reported that the Iris has GPS. It does not. It has gpsOne. People: don't say a gadget (especially a rumored gadget that people might save up their pennies to buy) has GPS when it only has gpsOne.

What's the difference and what's my beef? Read on after the break.

What's gpsOne? Here's what Qualcomm says; here's Wikipedia:

gpsOne is primarily used today for Enhanced-911 E911 service, allowing your cell phone to relay your location to emergency dispatchers, one of the traditional shortcomings of cellular phone technology. Using a combination of GPS satellite signals and the cell towers themselves, gpsOne allows your location to be plotted with greater accuracy than traditional GPS systems in areas where satellite reception is problematic due to buildings or terrain.

Read: GpsOne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basically here's the difference: GPS provides very accurate location information that you can use in various applications like Windows Live Search, TomTom, or Google Maps. GpsOne is locked down 95 times out of 100 so all it does is tell 911 dispatchers your approximate. In fact, many folks who have tried to unlock gpsOne capabilities have found it to be inaccurate and have even ended up making their phones dial 911 by mistake.

The situation is even worse on Windows Mobile, actually, because many WM devices could use those chips if there were an API and carriers allowed developers easy access to the gpsOne chip. If you've been holding your breath for carriers to do something nice for you, stop: they're never going to. It's especially aggravating because, as Sbono13 notes, gpsOne actually can work on certain plain-jane featurephone in conjunction with Google Maps. When will we see GpsOne available for apps on a Windows Mobile device? I'm going to guess never. It's sad, but not too sad, because at the end of the day gpsOne isn't as accurate at true-blue GPS anyway.

Look, I want GPS native on my Windows Mobile devices as much as, if not more than, the next guy. Witness my slathering over the upcoming AT&T Tilt. But until carriers allow that gpsOne data to be used openly (read: never), quit thinking the "gpsOne" tickmark on spec sheets means that GPS is built-in. You're just sowing confusion amongst users and raising everybody's hopes.

Meanwhile, pick yourself up a Bluetooth GPS Receiver instead. Me, I'm going to go take my blood pressure medication.

WC Staff