Thursday, November 16, 2017

Android GPS sharing

For some reason ☺ I wanted to use a location aware app on my Android tablet, which didn't have a GPS receiver.

There are several apps on Google Play, some work, some do not. I found two apps that would work together properly: Bluetooth GPS Output and Bluetooth GPS.

1. Pair tablet and phone

Enable bluetooth on both phone and tablet, then pair both devices with each other.

Note that you may not be able to use the bluetooth link for GPS location sharing and Internet access at the same time. However, you could always set up your phone as a Wifi hotspot and the tablet as a client, thus making sure your battery gets empty even faster ☺

    GPS location: Phone → bluetooth → Tablet
    Internet: Phone → Wifi → Tablet

I used a Huawei Nova phone and a Lenovo Tab A30 tablet.

2. Phone as GPS source

On my phone I installed Bluetooth GPS Output by Meowsbox.

Note that there are multiple apps with the same name, and that you will need to buy a license. Note also that the registered software 'phones home' now and again. If that hampers actual use is yet to be seen. I contacted the author(s) and got the feedback that, if necessary, their app can also be acivated using a license code. If you operate your device(s) away from the Internet, for example from a yacht, then that would make sense.

I did not have to change any settings in the app. Just swtich on bluetooth, then press the Start button in the app. (The program will only export GPS data after the the Start button has been pressed, which makes sense ☺)

Once active the app will show latitude, longitude, accuracy, and the name of any client device.

An alternative is Bluetooth GPS Provider, which is free and looks quite interesting, but I couldn't get it to work.

3. Tablet as GPS client

On my tablet I installed Bluetooth GPS by GG MobLab.

Again there are multiple apps with the same name, so pick the right one! (It's by the way amazing how many useless GPS apps there are in the Google Play market, half of them mere advertising schemes.)

Start the app, the select the bluetooth source using the dropdown menu and hit Connect. Assuming everything works the correct set of coordinates will show up.

This app has multiple pages that you can swipe through: Main / Status / Nmea / Map. On a landscape tablet this may not be immediately obvious.

For me this setup worked fine. Note that other apps on the client may or may no work. That depends on how they retrieve their GPS information from the Android system.

I have tested my setup with Google Maps and Sygic, both without any apparent problems.

Note on testing: if there is no REAL GPS sensor in your device, Android will still cook up some data, and even report a (fake) number of connected satellites.

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