I have called Verizon tech support numerous times over the past several months, and the phone staff has not been able to satisfactorily answer my questions on the following matter. At this point I'm desperate: Perhaps a knowledgeable, high-tech-level Verizon support person will see this message, or perhaps someone in the user community knows the truth about GPS and will share it?
6 months ago I bought the BB Storm, hoping it would be similar to the iPhone. I've been extremely disappointed. Much of the problem seems to be Verizon's fault. The iPhone has a third-party app called MotionX that hikers can use to find their location on a topographic map using GPS, even if they are out of cell phone range. Some similar apps are available for the Storm. But it turns out that Verizon actually blocks the GPS signal for most third-party apps! People outside the U.S. who use the Storm on other networks have told me these apps work fine for them, even outside of cell phone range.
In particular, I have tried these apps: Trimble Outdoors, BlackStar, and TopoExplorer. None of them can get a GPS signal outside of cell phone range. The problem seems to only exist under the Verizon network. Can anyone please tell me which, if any, of those 3 apps are being blocked from using GPS under Verizon, and if any of those apps might be unblocked by Verizon in the future?
Under GPS options, I have selected "Location On", and I have tried both settings for "Location Aiding": "Enabled" and "Disabled".
Is there any hope of getting these apps working, or do I need to give up and switch to AT&T and the iPhone?
Ok here it is... Verizon used to have everything blocked except for their own VZ Navigator. RIM forced them to enable BlackBerry Maps as well. This happened pretty recently, nov/dec 2008 if I'm not mistaken. As for the other's Verizon states they are all locked due to "security" reasons. In other words they only want you to be able to use VZ Nav or BB Maps only. Google Maps does work hoever by triangulating your location using Cell towers which is why Google Maps is always off by a pretty large chunk of miles. Where as BB Maps, and VZ Nagivator use the phones actual GPS chip.
I would not hold you're breath on using any thing else as it will not happen.
Yes ... as I tried to explain in my original post, most GPS apps work OK when you're in cell phone range. That includes Google Maps. It also includes Trimble Outdoors, which I use on the rare occasions when I'm mountain biking within cell phone range. (But TopoExplorer, which I returned for a refund, does not EVER work under Verizon, even within cell phone range.)
When you get outside of cell phone range, GPS apps that work on the Storm under other networks do NOT work under Verizon. This is true for Trimble Outdoors and TopoExplorer. Under other networks (such as Telus in Canada), these apps will still be able to locate a GPS signal on the Storm even if you are outside of cell phone range. So it's clearly Verizon's fault.
Two times in the past week, I have had Verizon tech support people admit to me over the phone that Verizon DOES block the GPS signal for most third-party apps. But they refuse to divulge the list of which apps are blocked and which are not blocked. So there it is straight from Verizon - they DO INDEED BLOCK the GPS signal when you are out of their cell phone network. So even though the hardware is capable of getting your location using GPS satellites alone, that hardware is made useless by Verizon.
What I want to know is: Has anyone heard if there is any hope of getting Verizon to change this? Is there anyone else out there who is trying to do what I'm trying, to use the built-in GPS of the Storm to locate current position on a topographic map when outside of cell phone range?
The MotionX app on the iPhone does this beautifully for over two million users. Verizon is going to lose all their customers who need to pinpoint their location on topographic maps (without needing a cell phone signal).
Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. When I use Trimble Outdoors (on those occasions where I'm lucky enough to mountain bike in broadband & cell phone range), it works beautifully. It's great to just whip out the phone and see where I am on the topographic map. The battery impact can be minimal, since it's a quick operation to just check where I am. I do carry an extra charged battery with me when I do overnight trips, just in case. You do have a point though: This app also has capability to do continuous tracking of your position and plot the track on a map -- and I agree that would tend to run through the battery quickly. But for my needs it works well. And with two million users for the MotionX app on the iPhone, I think it's an important function for many of us. I've actually been lost on some of my trips, and have wasted a lot of time and energy exploring the wrong trails because Trimble Outdoors died since I was out of range.
Learning from my experience being lost, I have started bringing my old stand-alone Garmin GPS on trips even though this unit is heavy and doesn't contain topo maps, because I never know when my Storm will lose its GPS signal. I also have to take along printed topo maps. Garmin makes somewhat lighter units that also do topo maps, but they sell for $400 or so and I've read mixed reviews for them. It would be nice to save that money and also avoid having to lug an extra piece of equipment on my trips.