Accuracy of GPS Sports Apps: Can I Trust My Sports App

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GPS technology, which has taken the market by storm, has a myriad of functions. Ever since its inception in the 1970s, it has been successfully implemented to serve important functions, such as child GPS tracking, employee tracking and GPS sports applications. Today, all smartphones come with GPS tracking facilities. So, if you are a fitness enthusiast and own a smartphone, whether it is powered by Android or iOS, there are over 200 apps available for running, walking or cycling.

The introduction of these apps was a significant development for many sports lovers; such apps allow users to keep track of distance and pace as well as tracking training data. There are numerous GPS sports apps, such as Runtastic, Strava, RunKeeper, etc, that come with advanced features like GPS route mapping facilities and provisions for logging runs. Whether you are installing a free app or a premium version, fitness apps can motivate you in many ways.  Such sports apps, however, are not entirely free from criticism, as many users complain about the accuracy of the GPS data. This article attempts to explore some of the major concerns about the accuracy of GPS sports apps, while suggesting viable solutions to improve the efficiency of these apps.

The Limitations of GPS Sports Apps

GPS signals, from plane and car navigation systems, are derived directly from satellites revolving around the earth, and the modes of receiving and processing these signals may lead to inaccurate results. A smartphone’s GPS, in contrast, functions differently, because they come with GPS sensors that receive data from mobile phone towers and Wi-Fi hot spots. While the first process can take a long time because it is difficult to locate satellites to find a location lock, GPS-enabled phones give you the exact location, and the towers receive data directly from satellites.  If you are using a GPS watch, or any other form of GPS device, your GPS signals are directly received from satellites, but smartphones derive GPS data as periodic position updates which are averaged out, whereby there can be inconsistencies in results.

Why Do GPS Apps Fail to Show Accurate Results?

GPS signals traverse through the vast expanse of space to reach phones and they are mostly mediated via devices, and therefore the quality of the signal may not always be consistent. Some of the major reasons for defective results, apart from the one mentioned above, are cited below:

  • Not Getting Access to Satellites:

If your device fails to connect to the relevant satellites, the results might be inaccurate.

  • Weak Start:

Using GPS features occasionally or covering a long distance without using it can cause delays, leading to erroneous outcomes. If you use your sports app frequently, the risks of delays and inaccurate results can be mitigated.

  • Signal Blocks on the Way:

Whether you are running, walking or cycling, you may encounter several signal blocks due to walls, buildings, trees, and other objects. To get appropriate GPS data, avoid keeping your device in your bag or inside your vehicle. Smartphones must be exposed to the external environment, allowing them to catch the signals properly.

  • Bad Habits:

Bad habits like checking GPS data every minute from your running/walking/cycling apps may affect the results. Apart from this, your running or riding patterns – for instance, if you tread in a zigzag way – can affect the results as the sensors might catch the signals.

Ways to Improve the Accuracy of GPS Sports Apps

The accuracy of GPS data depends on many different factors; the following recommendations can help you get more precise data on your smartphone.

  • Keep your phone exposed to external conditions so that it can catch proper signals.
  • Don’t consider remote locations like forests and hills, or places like dingy streets and roads filled with skyscrapers.
  • There are many advanced GPS apps available which require strong GPS support, so do your research before making your purchase.
  • You can also consider additional support like an external Bluetooth GPS receiver to ensure you are receiving accurate positioning data.

You may also consider tricks like restarting your device to ensure your app is showing the correct reading.

Final Thoughts

Today, GPS technology is an indispensable part of all smartphones, and location data accuracy is prioritised over everything. This is especially true for fitness lovers, as the accuracy of GPS data is of the utmost importance when it comes to sports apps.  While most GPS sports apps can motivate their users, at their worst, such apps can be quite misleading. Installing a suitable GPS sports app is not enough. To ensure you have the precise location data, you have to employ certain useful techniques, and this GPS sports app guide prepares you with the hacks necessary to maximise your outcome.

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