How to Get Faster GPS Lock Time on Your Android

I love the ability to use GPS navigation on my Android device. Using Google Maps or TeleNav the convenience of finding directions is a great addition to an already powerful device. Not to mention all the location aware applications that use your location to help you discover businesses, events, or whatever is close to you.

Problem: I’ve noticed that sometimes it takes a ridiculously long time to get GPS lock. With your GPS receiver turned on, starting an application that uses the GPS places a satellite icon in the notification bar. If the icon has blinking green semi-circles then the GPS is trying to get a lock on the satellites. Once the green semi-circles remain solid you’ve got GPS lock. I’ve seen my Android take more than ten minutes to get a lock. For most people, me included, that is unacceptable. My goal is to get the GPS to lock in less than one minute.

 Faster Android GPS Lock

After a bit of research I found a solution. Android gets it’s GPS lock by using a combination of Internet access and satellite reception to get the current position of the device. The lag might be caused by the Android inefficiently downloading data from the Internet to help with the satellite lock. There are apps that pre-cache this data making the lock process faster.

Steps for a faster lock

  • Download and Install GPS Status & Toolbox from the Android Market
  • Turn on your GPS radio. (Menu -> Settings -> Location. Place a check mark next to ‘Use GPS satellites’)
  • Start GPS Status & Toolbox. Let it run until it your Android gets GPS lock. The satellite icon in the status bar should stop flashing and remain solid

That alone should improve your GPS lock time. I took an additional step. I left my GPS radio turned on for a few hours. I read that people who normally keep their GPS radios off and only turn them on when they want to use navigation have more lock problems.

I now reliably get GPS lock anywhere between a few seconds to less than a minute and a half. This has greatly improved the usability of my HTC Evo Shift 4G as a GPS navagation system.

Let me know if you have any other ways to improve your GPS lock time.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Faster GPS Lock Time on Your Android

  1. Wow, really interesting read! I didn’t know about GPS Status & Toolbox and will have to check it out.

    Can I ask what kind of device you have? If you’re having trouble getting a GPS lock both from our app and Google’s, it sounds like it maybe a hardware issue? The tricky part about GPS is requires line of sight w/ 4 satellites. Most of the time it isn’t a problem, but other times, for whatever reason, it can be a little trickier and can take a little longer to lock on.

    Well, just wanted to stop by and say hello. Enjoyed reading your blog.


  2. Kenji,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have a HTC Evo Shift. From what I’ve read other devices have had similar issues.


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