Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Satellite Navigation Systems Are Becoming More Accurate on the Latest Smartphones

One of the more useful features of smartphones is the ability to navigate using satellite signals. Combined with the right software and maps, smartphones can tell the user where he or she is located anywhere on the planet. This ability is of great practical value.

The most commonly used navigation system is the Global Positioning System or GPS. However, for various reasons, other countries have started to develop their own satellite navigation system. Smartphone manufacturers have expressed their intention of integrating these new systems.

What Are the Other Satellite Navigation Systems Out There Besides GPS?

Besides GPS, there are three satellite navigation systems that have some or all of their satellites in orbit. Of these three, Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System or GLONASS is the only one that is fully operational on a global scale.

Support for GLONASS has already been integrated into some of the latest smartphones. The best known is the Apple iPhone 5, which supports GLONASS in addition to GPS. More manufacturers are expected to do so as new models are released.

The Chinese Compass or Beidou navigation system is operational in the Asia-Pacific region as of December 2012. Eventually, it will provide global coverage as the number of satellites in orbit increases. The first receivers that are compatible with Beidou have already been released.

The European Galileo navigation system is the furthest behind of all three systems. However, it does have a couple of satellites in orbit. The European nations have expressed full support for the system and it is expected to become operational in a few years.

Why Does It Matter if There Are More Satellite Navigation Systems?

A smartphone needs to receive signals from four or more satellites that are within line of sight in order to work. In practice, you want to have as many satellites as possible in order to acquire a signal as quickly as possible. More satellites should ensure better accuracy.

With only GPS, there is a chance that there are not enough satellites within line of sight in a specific location. Some may be blocked by tall buildings. That means it is possible for GPS not to work when you need it the most. The solution is to have a stronger signal with the addition of more satellites.

Once all four systems are fully operational, the total number of navigation satellites will surpass one hundred. That means that no matter where you are, there should be more than enough satellites around for your smartphone to work as it should.

How to Get Access to the Latest Satellite Positioning Signals?

All navigation systems will provide a public service that is free to use. The consumer does not need to pay anything extra. All that is required is a compatible receiver that can receive and decode the signal. These receivers are build into smartphones, which then displays the information to the user.

These receivers are continually updated and then integrated into the latest phone models. Therefore, as long as your phone is up to date, you should have the latest receiver that is able to receive all signals. Be aware that older receivers are not compatible. You will need a new phone to replace the old one.

The Consumer Wins by Having More Choices Available Besides GPS

It is the consumer that wins with the development of additional navigation systems. Service will be improved and at no cost to the consumer. Just make sure that your smartphone is not out of date and you're all set to benefit.

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