GPS and the Smart Phone

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GPS stands for global positioning system, which was first developed by the US military. Its relies on a network of satellites that can pinpoint almost any location on Earth. Once GPS became available for civilian use in the 80's, developers found all kinds of interesting ways to make use of this software. At first there were simple devices that could be placed in your car or boat to help you navigate. Most GPS systems provide detailed maps a long with a pleasant voice to guide your way. No longer do we have to depend on someone to decipher a foldout map or a set of incomplete directions. GPS gives you real time information, on things like road closings or new construction, even alternative routes to help you avoid traffic.

It was only a mater of time before this technology found its way into the smart phone. Most cell phones already have what is known as GSM, which can track them through these complex satellite networks. Combining GPS and smart phones seems like a match made in heaven. Most phones offer the basic map applications that provide an instant read out of your exact location. Its easy to see how this service might be useful for just about anyone. Imagine you are traversing a new city or even your own and you get a craving for sushi, well with a few taps of your finger up will come a list of restaurants with reviews, photos and of course maps to you desired destination. As a social networking tool you can see if your friends are in the area or what they are up to, and perhaps even meet new friends based on their activities or locations. If you enjoy taking photos, the location information is automatically tagged to the image.

There are two types of GPS enabled smart phones on the market, the first uses what is known as A-GPS. This type of GPS requires that the phone be connected to a mobile internet network for use. Obviously a signal is not always available especially if we are using the GPS for serious outdoor endeavors like camping, fishing, or off-roading. The more advanced GPS services are often subscription based, meaning that there are additional fees for usage independent of your mobile phone service. The regular GPS enabled phones can be superior because they give you the ability to use the service even if you are offline. There are also several brackets on the market that allow you to hook your smartphone up to your car's dashboard to serve as a GPS navigator. Finding your way just got whole lot easier thanks to GPS enabled smart phones.

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