The Global Positioning System (GPS) has literally changed the world. Being able to tell exactly where you are on the surface of the Earth has had far-reaching implications for business and travel. The fact that every smartphone has a built-in GPS receiver means you never have to get lost again.
Unfortunately, even the most useful technologies fail, and if you are an Android user, you might run into situations where your Android GPS is not working. If this happens to you, here are some common ways to re-establish communication with the satellites listed above.
Move to a different location and be patient
When your Android GPS isn’t working, the problem might not be your phone at all! If you do not have line-of-sight with enough GPS satellites, or are in inclement weather, capturing may be difficult or impossible.
Moving away from metal objects, getting a clear sky above you, and staying away from high walls are all ways to make it easier for your phone to find its place in the world.
Is it really a GPS problem?
Some GPS applications also require a working data connection. If your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection isn’t working as expected, this could be the reason your app isn’t doing its GPS job. So try switching to a different Wi-Fi network, switching between Wi-Fi and mobile data, or simply move to a location with better reception.
If you can access websites and use data services in other applications, this is probably not a problem. However, it can be quickly and easily eliminated as the culprit.
Have you tried to turn it off and turn it on again?
Okay, you’ve probably already tried this, but for the sake of accuracy, we have to suggest the fastest and most obvious solution first. In case you didn’t know, there is a switch for the GPS function in the app shadow quick menu.
Application Shadow is this drawer that can be accessed by swiping from top to bottom. The various Android skins may not look exactly the same, but you will find a kind of GPS switcher here nonetheless.
By clicking this virtual switch, you also reboot the GPS hardware. This is often enough to restart the GPS acquisition process.
Restart and Airplane Mode
If this fast switching doesn’t help, you can try a more nuclear option. You can simply turn on airplane mode, which turns off all wireless communications. Wait a few seconds and then unplug it again. Sometimes it works when just switching the GPS doesn’t work.
The next step is to completely reboot your phone. If toggling GPS, airplane mode, and reboot doesn’t work, it means the problem is due to something more permanent than a glitch.
Try to use better resolution modes
Modern Android phones can help improve GPS accuracy in a variety of ways. If your GPS constantly needs to be locked or is performing poorly, you should check if you have these accuracy assistants turned on.
This is quite easy to do. Just drag the app shadow, press and hold the location shortcut to access its settings.
Depending on the Android version or phone brand, the exact name or method may differ, but in most cases this is a quick access method. Alternatively, you can go to the Android settings page and find the location settings there.
One on the location settings page, there are two interesting stops. First, check if your phone is set to use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to improve GPS accuracy. When enabled, your phone can search for local Wi-Fi hotspots or known Bluetooth beacons, giving it an immediate indicator of your approximate location.
You should also check if Google location accuracy is enabled.
This should help improve positioning significantly.
Charge your phone or disable the power saving mode
The GPS functionality is quite power-hungry. When your phone is too low, it may switch to a special power saving mode. Either the standard one, which is part of Android, or perhaps a more modified one, customized by your phone manufacturer.
Therefore, if your battery is in red and Power Saving Mode is enabled, turning it off may make your GPS function work properly again. Although, of course, your phone battery is now draining much faster. Alternatively, you can try simply plugging in your phone, which will disable power saving mode. This is why it is recommended that you always have a power bank or USB car charger on hand.
Reinstall or update the Maps app
Sometimes the problem is not with your phone’s GPS functions, but with the application that is supposed to use them. You can confirm this by switching to another unrelated app that uses GPS. If this application is working properly, we should look at the uncooperative criminal.
There are two main things you can do here. One is to go to the app store and see if your app has any pending updates. If its version is too far behind, it may not be able to work with the home-based service. If there are no pending updates, simply uninstall and reinstall the app.
Use the GPS Diagnostic application
Apps like Google Maps put a convenient layer of software between you and the GPS receiver hardware in your phone. This is as it should be, but it can also be a little cryptic when an app stops working correctly.
Fortunately, there are GPS apps for Android phones that show raw readings of GPS hardware. This is useful both for quickly communicating your exact coordinates to someone, and for diagnosing GPS problems.
One of the apps we can recommend is GPS Status and Toolbox, which gives you all the numbers that your GPS module shows right on the screen. If you have another phone with the app, you can compare the readings to make sure it looks correct, and if it doesn’t show anything at all or throws an error, you may be experiencing a hardware issue that requires you to go to a repair shop.
On the road again
Suddenly getting lost in unfamiliar territory can be a little scary, but hopefully, after going through this list of potential problems, you’ll be right at your destination. However, no technology is perfect, so we still recommend that you buy a real paper map and keep it with you in case you just can’t get Android GPS to work or you just run out of power.
GPS is a fun technology, and if you have time, check out HDG’s explanations: How does GPS work? for a better understanding of all this. If your problem is lack of connectivity and not GPS blocking issues, you should also take a look at the 9 best free offline GPS apps for Android. It might just keep you from wandering around the next time you are out of range!