Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

iPhoneWannaBe
Member

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?

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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

MrSpock2002
Member

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. 

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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

jrm2183
Member
The GPS on the Storm is unlocked!
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

LOWFLYER
Novice
With the Storm, Google maps (location on) pinpoints my location within literally 10 feet.  I also have another app called GPS logger that works just fine......
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

iPhoneWannaBe
Member

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).

Message Edited by iPhoneWannaBe on 07-31-2009 06:29 PM
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

SaNDman
Novice
Maybe you should a genuine GPS tracker, instead of using a cell phone's gps feature. Obviously the "tracker" uses satellite to pinpoint locations, maybe Storm's or iPones does too. But draining battery more on these phones.:smileywink:
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

LOWFLYER
Novice
Sandman said exactly what I was thinking.....You are asking your "Cellphone" to go above and way beyond the call of duty here in my humble opinion.  I don't see why you would want to use it for this pupose anyway as the battery will be toast within hours.  I honestly feel a dedicated GPS device would be more suited to what you're trying to accomplish here.
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

iPhoneWannaBe
Member

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.

 

 

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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

LOWFLYER
Novice
Thank you for taking our opinions in stride, it's nice to have a civil conversation even though we may differ a little in what we think this device should actually be used for.  I would also just like to mention that the Storm is relatively new (<1yr old) and is still coming into it's own with the second iteration set for release soon.  The iPhone on the other hand released in 2006 has had considerable time to build a customer base, app base, work out bugs and kinks, and generally cater to the end user after several years of trial and error; heck the 3GS is finally gonna let them receive picture messages from what I understand....really???  After all this time they finally get MMS directly to the handset??.  So it's really difficult to compare these two.  Also, unlocking the GPS feature in these devices is new for VZW too as the Storm was the first phone to be released with this feature enabled on other apps besides VZ Nav.  I really hope you stick it out and keep the Storm; for now it looks like you'll have to augment it with the real thing if you're outta cell range but who knows what the future holds with compatibility and advanced technology.  Even now I sit in amazment that this device I hold in my hand can make phone calls from all but the remotest of places, entertain me with music and video, check my bank acounts/make transactions, keep me in touch with my family and friends through streaming email, any messenger service i could possibly want, and help me find my way should I get lost in an area I'm unfamiliar with..........and ppl complain it's slow or locks up sometimes.........c'mon; but I digress.  Welcome to the forum and if there's any technical issues we can help you resolve, please let us know.
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Re: Verizon blocks GPS to most third-party apps

XtremeBerry
Novice
i dont think it has anything to do with "blocking your GPS" . Are you sure under options>advanced options>GPS>location aiding > you dont have "disabled while roaming" checked.Or data services is checked to turn off while roaming.
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