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Verizon Relents! GPS to Open Up Next Year!

Ok, we're totally not going to take credit for this, but it looks like people who have joined our campaign to demand Verizon unlock GPS on their Windows Mobile offerings are receiving a stock reply that's looking, well, good! User efudd sends us his reply from the Big V:

Verizon Wireless, like all carriers, orders devices to meet certain specifications inclusive of features. Each of these specs is tested to determine if it meets our performance goals. There are instances when the phone will pass our extensive testing process but a specific feature may not meet the standard. We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint --from Maine to Hawaii. In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability. This is a complex development project to provide open standalone GPS while maintaining the assisted GPS capability with the level of performance and security that our customers expect. The recently introduced Windows Mobile devices including Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro are targeted to add open standalone GPS in the 1st half of 2009.Steve SchwedVerizon WirelessHQ Executive Relations Supervisor

Emphasis ours above. That's the Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro, yo. That's complete, open, standalone GPS. Heck, we're even going to grant the point (because we should) that implementing GPS on the latest generation of fully-integrated chips is really tough these days. Still, chalk this one up under the Win column.

This isn't WMExperts taking credit though, because, well, it looks like our strategy of physical, snail-mail email wasn't the right strategy (Thanks for nothing, US Postal service -- at least when email fails, we get an error message). This was all you guys, the heroes. Heck, maybe Verizon meant to do this from the get-go (they have been claiming they intend on being more open), but a little pressure doesn't hurt!

Big ups to our readers and big ups to Verizon for doing the right thing.

32 Comments
  • Where's engadget mobile now???
    ...thought so....
  • Sorry cmajewsk, I don't quite follow?
  • This is what I got from them. Dear Daniel Good afternoon, my name is Rachael and it would be my pleasure to assist you with your concern on getting the GPS unlocked.
    At this current time, we have not unlocked the GPS for the Samsung Omina and we are not aware of any immediate plans to have it unlocked.
    New and emerging technologies, such as location-based services, provide great opportunities to increase efficiencies, decrease costs and simplify processes. Implementation of these new technologies and services can vary based on many factors including the strategy, goals and policies that drive the business.
    At Verizon Wireless we value the security and privacy of our subscriber data and user information and we have taken this into account in the development of our location-based services, which include GPS (Global Positioning Services) functionality. To alleviate concerns regarding access to data by malicious applications and misuse of location information, Verizon Wireless' location-based services utilize a solution that requires each location request to be authenticated and accepted prior to a user's location being obtained through the network and used by authorized applications. This solution requires the use of a custom security API (Application Programming Interface) by authorized applications in order to minimize the potential for "man in the middle" attacks and misuse of information by "bad actors."
    Verizon Wireless is aggressively working to expand its suite of location-based services in a way that does not compromise our dedication to privacy and security while still offering value and flexibility to the customer. I apologize for any inconvenience. We appreciate your business and thank you for using Verizon Wireless products and services. Should you have additional questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail. Sincerely,
    Rachael
    Verizon Wireless
    Customer Service
  • 1st half of 2009? The phones listed will be old news by then!
    In addition, the current Verizon Pro's memory has been crippled to a point it can barely run Opera half the time. Giving us GPS is great, but where's the memory so I we can run our memory intensive GPS programs?!? On the Fuze & Sprint Pro, that's where :(
    -8notime
  • I'm glad to hear that Verizon will be unlocking the GPS to be true standalone GPS, I was looking at getting the Saga sometime next year, and now that the GPS will be standalone that will just make me that much more interested in upgrading my phone.
  • So, I'm new to the whole smart phone game. When they talk about a software update, does that mean that if I were to buy an Omnia tomorrow and they updated the GPS capability in the first half of next year I would be able to use Google Maps etc., or will I only be able to use the standalone GPS if I buy it after? Hope this makes sense and thank you in advance for any answer.
  • What about some of the older Pocket PC phones like XV6800 and XV6900?
  • XV6900 with the newest official Verizon ROM has full GPS capability if you're using the Vahalla GPS server cab with Google Maps and Microsoft LIVE Search. That's all I've tested so far.
  • what about the moto q9c? id love to have gps
  • Sorry but I have major trust issues with VZW...I'm taking the omnia back during the return period, which luckily is after CES and MacWorld conclude so we should see what other phones are coming to which carriers. Then, I'm quitting "the network" until I see evidence that they really do this. Until then I'll be an idiotic fanboi [read iphone cultist]. I don't mind paying the the VZW SOBs the ETF, but I will miss the camera on the omnia. A lot. I was getting better photos than my 8mb Canon SD1100. Oh, well...
  • Can anyone answer the previous question about software vs. hardware? Will current Omnias be able to access free GPS via a software upgrade, or will this require new hardware (ie phones manufactured and released after this change)? Thanks.
  • yes a software upgrade means that an existing phone (ie an Omnia) will be able to use gps on any gps type app.
  • The Verizon reply above is simply an attempt to placate the growing number of complaints. Yet all he wrote was that Verizon is targeting 3 phones for the GPS upgrade during Jan-Feb 2009. It doesn't mean it will actually occur since 6 months is a very long period in the industry. All is subject to change when new phones are announced and new plans roll out. Meanwhile, he did his job keeping complaints under control yet unresolved. By the way, who actually believes Verizon crippled the standalone GPS in the first place to benefit the consumer? Are you kidding me?! Since when does paying more benefit the consumer and not the provider? It's called a lie, plain and simple.
  • How come the GPS works so well on there limited VZ Navigator
    but not safe enough for stand alone programs? Maybe if a stuff a $10.00 bill into the phone case every month it will work.
  • Verizon is full of crap. We shouldn't even be having this conversation. I'll believe the unlock when I see it.
  • Has this email been confirmed by Verizon? I've seen this email copied into blogs and online cell phone news all over the place; but have not seen any kind of official statement on the VZW site or anywhere else that could be positively attributed to Verizon.
  • Well i read in another forum that steve schwed also said that it is samsung that will be making the update or whatever for their phones and so i went to samsung and sent them an email inquiring about this rumor and this is what samsung sent to me........ "Dear Viengphet, Thank you for your inquiry. The built-in GPS feature of the phone supports Emergency 911 only. This is so that in case of emergency, you can be located by emergency services. There is no support for the use of 3rd party GPS devices at this time, nor do we have information about future development in this area. Do you have more questions regarding your Samsung Mobile Phone? For 24 hour information and assistance, we offer a new FAQ/ARS System (Automated Response System) at http://www.samsungwireless.com/support It's like having your very own personal Samsung Technician at your fingertips. Thank you for your interest in Samsung products. Sincerely,
    Technical Support" so i'm wondering if this rumor is even true or it's being kept on the down low until the time gets closer....i'm hoping they will truely unlock the GPS on this phone because this phone is amazing so far...
  • Thank you for contacting our Verizon Wireless website. We are sorry to learn that you are having difficulty with the GPS functionality of the Samsung Omnia. We are happy to assist you with your concern. We greatly value your business and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We understand that you have made an investment in Verizon Wireless and resolving your concern is our number one priority. We apologize for the delayed response to your email and for any inconvenience this may have caused. We are experiencing higher than normal email volumes at this time. However, we are working diligently to reply to each customers email in a timely manner and we appreciate your patience. Verizon Wireless is committed to providing the very latest in products and services. Verizon Wireless does not provide support for any 3rd party software or application that would be required to make full use of the Omnia's GPS capabilities. As a result, the Omnia's GPS functionality has not been enabled so that we are able to provide a standardized level of functionality and support for our advanced devices. We are unable to state if or when additional GPS functionality will be enabled on the Samsung Omnia. We understand and apologize for any frustration regarding this but we are only able to provide information regarding products or services that we are currently offering. We are unable to disclose any unconfirmed information because it would be subject to change and could raise expectations that may not be met. If you would like to receive e-mail updates regarding new products and services, please click on "Sign up for email updates" from the "Support" tab located at the top of our www.verizonwireless.com homepage. We hope you find this information helpful. Troubleshooting tips and helpful product information can be found at www.verizonwireless.com/data. It has been a pleasure assisting you today. We make it our personal goal to resolve all of your concerns. We sincerely hope that you feel we have done that today. Should you feel your current concerns are not fully resolved, please reply back to this email or call us at 1-800-922-0204 and we will happily address them for you. We appreciate your business and thank you for choosing Verizon Wireless. Sincerely, Neil
    Verizon Wireless
    Data Technical Support
  • just an FYI i downloaded and installed the i910 cc20 rom and after editing the registry to show the gps icon in settings,and setting the gps service to location on, i was able to activate the gps using google maps. However my return to the forum posting the link to the leaked cc20 rom was removed due to violation of TOS. if you can find this rom online then download it and install it using the omnia UMDL app. i had ne problems at all loading the rom it also has some nice additional enhancements, the windows live widget is nice and the free weatherbug app is great too. oh yeah the iphone style keybaord SIP is nice too(i'm referrring to the pop letters so you know what key you are pressing) as always i take no responsibility for any upload failures.
  • Well, we are getting pretty close now to the end of the first half of 2009. I sure hope that Steve Schwed follows thru with his commitment to all of us VZW customers.
  • I know there are plenty of us out here that will be following up with Verizon on this, but I also hope WMexperts and other blogs will bring this up again by the ned of this month. Either Verizon will do as they've promised, or they will come up with a poor excuse.
    I'm hoping it's the former.
  • yes a software upgrade means that an existing phone (ie an Omnia) will be able to use gps on any gps type app.
  • I received the same form letter this week from Verizon so it looks like they won't be sticking to their promises.
  • Well... here we are... June 18th and nary a word from VZW on providing unlocked GPS capability. They said during the 1st 1/2 of 2009. With a dozen days left, does ANYONE think VZW will live up to their promise? Will VZW make any comment here on this?
  • I think we'll see it soon. A representative for the company I work for told me that they already have the unlocked firmware from Samsung and it's currently being tested by their software department... Granted I've heard that news almost a month ago, but I would hope that we'll see something by the end of this month... I can barely wait till the 6/30/09 to see if Verizon will live up to their promise... If not, we can always go and upgrade using the unofficial upgrade...
  • For those Saga users check out the ROM update!!!!! http://ars.samsung.com/customer/usa/jsp/faqs/faqs_view.jsp?SITE_ID=22&PG...
  • Still no gps unlock...typical verizon lies.
  • *sigh* Any news on this? Here we are about to enter August and I've heard nothing yet.
  • Um, yeah, they're all unlocked now.
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  • We greatly value your business and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We understand that you have made an investment in Verizon Wireless and resolving your concern is our number one priority. We apologize for the delayed response to your email and for any inconvenience this may have caused. We are experiencing higher than normal email volumes at this time. However, we are working diligently to reply to each customers email in a timely manner and we appreciate your patience. Verizon Wireless is committed to providing the very latest in products and services. Verizon Wireless does not provide support for any 3rd party software or application that would be required to make full use of the Omnia's GPS capabilities. As a result, the Omnia's GPS functionality has not been enabled so that we are able to provide a standardized level of functionality and support for our advanced devices. We are unable to state if or when additional GPS functionality will be enabled on the Samsung Omnia. We understand and apologize for any frustration regarding this but we are only able to provide information regarding products or services that we are currently offering. We are unable to disclose any unconfirmed information because it would be subject to change and could raise expectations that may not be met.