We are using Geolocation (getCurrentPosition()) in a website to determine a users position when using our site from a mobile device.

I want to write an article explaining how the user can obtain the best results.

Am I correct in assuming:

  • Enabling GPS will yield the best result when in rural areas (less buildings to obscure line of sight to the satelites)
  • Enabling Wi-Fi will yield the best results when in urban areas (generally more Wi-Fi hotspots available)
  • Is it true that Android phones have better results from silently harvesting Wi-Fi hotspot details?

Any links to reference material on this are appreciated

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  • flagged for moderator review to consider migrating to gis.SE – GlenH7 Dec 14 '12 at 14:21

Remember that even with the best signal, GPS without supplementation is accurate only to 10m. AFAIK, most mobile devices do not use supplementation, but many dedicated GPS devices (such as Garmin's) use supplementation and have a better degree of accuracy.

1) GPS generally works better in a rural area than an urban area, yes. But that's not to say that GPS in an urban area is completely useless. It simply may not be as accurate.

2) Not necessarily. Wi-Fi location can be notoriously inaccurate, and GPS may still be better here. Wi-Fi location is probably better in an urban / suburban area than rural though.

3) There are too many android devices to make a blanket statement like this. As a user, I'd be pretty torqued to find out that "silent" tracking had been enabled without my permission. To my knowledge, there is nothing that would distinguish an android phone over an iOS or Windows phone in this category. Windows 8 phones can use Wi-Fi location, I don't know if Win 7 (or whatever it's called) phones can do so or not but I believe they can.

  • 3) can be opted out of, but they do collect location information - look at this link – Matt Wilko Dec 17 '12 at 8:36
  • 1
    Most Android phones use a form of assisted GPS created by Qualcomm called gpsOneXTRA: goo.gl/iKALM It retrieves assistance information from a server, typically outside the cell network, over an IP connection. gpsOneXTRA assistance data is good for up to seven days, although some devices will refresh this data more frequently (e.g., U.S. Sprint Android devices refresh about every 48 hours), since GPS quality will degrade with the age of the assistance data. More on gpsOneXTRA in the 2010 Sprint App Developers Conference here, on Slide 12 about 19:35 minutes in: goo.gl/Ms5He – Sean Barbeau Dec 17 '12 at 19:05

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