Monday, January 7, 2019

Using a spare Android as a GPS

Some GPS's, such as a Magellan I once had, require that you download software to a PC, connect the GPS to the PC, download updates, stand on your head, and jump through three hoops to get an update.

Smartphones, on the other hand, can be updated wirelessly, and Google Maps are kept well up to date, for the most part*. The problem I have run into with several Androids is that, even when plugged into a 2.1A vehicle charger, the battery still discharges. On a long trip, the battery would go too far down for the phone to be trusted to get around at my destination.

I had to get a new phone because  of switching carriers. My old Alcatel phone is GSM compatible, and I needed to use Verizon towers which use CDMA technology.

After getting a CDMA compatible phone, I decided to press the Alcatel (6" screen) into service as a GPS. Even with the SIM card removed, I still had the problem of the battery continuing to discharge over time. This is not as critical, of course, as having the primary mobile phone go down....but still inconvenient.

I tried several things, read lots on the internet, but could not find the answer. Finally, I put the phone in AIRPLANE mode. That did the trick. Now, the battery stays charged while travelling.

I did some experimenting, and here is the procedure I follow:

  1. Download offline maps for the region(s) I will be travelling in.
  2. Create an itinerary on the laptop and email it to myself.
  3. Open the email on the phone while WiFi is available (important).
  4. Set the phone on AIRPLANE.
  5. Plug into power in the vehicle, and go.

Since I am operating offline, I will not be getting real-time traffic on my GPS Android. That's a trade-off for keeping my battery operating. I still have my operational phone, which I can get traffic on as needed.

Let me know your results, or share your ideas...


*I discovered that it is possible to send new street addresses to Google Maps, and they will update them in a week or two.

For more on GPS Android navigation, check out this article at The Joy of Android.

1 comment:

Gary Johnston said...

You can solve the charging your battery problem by purchasing a plug in 12 volt to 110 volt AC converter for about $20.00 or purchase a vehicle with a 110 volt system already configured in said vehicle. I have both types of systems and they both work well.