Definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Google phone is the Global Positioning System (GPS) functionality that's built into many models. As I mention in the introduction, numerous Android-powered phones will be on the market by the time you read this book, each with a different set of features. Check with your carrier to see whether your Google phone has GPS.
You can turn the GPS feature on and off, but the setting is tucked away where you might not think to look. Tap Settings > Security & Location to access the My Location Sources screen, where you'll find the Enable GPS Satellites option (Figure 4.9).
Figure 4.9 Simply check or uncheck the Enable GPS Satellites box, depending on your mood that day.
If you're not a heavy user, I recommend keeping GPS on all the time, because it adds a new dimension of utility to your phone (as you see in this section). When this feature isn't in use (that is, you're not actively using My Location or the directions features), the GPS chip goes into low-power mode. When you're using the gPhone for real-time directions, however, GPS is a battery hog; in fact, it's one of the biggest draws of power on the Google phone.
A little common sense goes a long way. If you're planning an all-day walk, hike, or bike ride—or any other event that will have you away from power for an extended period—it's best to turn off all unnecessary radios (like GPS) unless you need them. (See my battery-conservation tips in "Power-draw issues" earlier in this chapter.)
Using GPS creatively
If you think that GPS is useful in automotive applications, it's even more useful (is that possible?) in a handheld device. The first and most common use of a GPS chip is to get directions from point A to point B, which is an incredibly powerful feature. Millions of drivers rely on GPS every day to get them to their destinations. In a mobile device, GPS is especially useful for getting directions while you're on foot or on public transit (see "Google Maps" later in this chapter).
Besides getting directions, you can use GPS technology in several fun and creative ways, thanks to the following third-party applications. All these apps are available in the Android Market, which I cover in detail in Chapter 7:
- Measure the distance between two locations within 10 feet or so (GPSMeasure)
- Find your car in an airport or mall parking lot (Car Finder)
- Record the exact path of a run or bike ride (RunnerTrainer and RideTrac)
- Use your phone as a speedometer (Speed Proof)
- Find the cheapest gas prices (GasBot)
- Measure the distance to the pin from where you're standing on the golf course (TeeDroid Caddy)
- Participate in geocaching, an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use GPS devices (Orienteer)
- Locate traffic and safety cameras (Traffic Cams)
My current favorite GPS application is FindMyPhone, which helps you locate your gPhone if you lose it. If you have this application installed, and you misplace your phone, just send the phone a special SMS text message (from another phone, obviously). Your lost phone will reply with its current location so that you can go recover it. Brilliant! If only I could use this application for my house keys!