If you think that a smartwatch can only tell time, you should think again. Most of these devices nowadays come with so many bells and whistles that they tend to act as almost an extendable arm of your smartphone.
With GPS being one of the most important things on a smartwatch, let’s find out what is the use of GPS in a smartwatch. A lot of people are in doubt about the purpose and uses of GPS in their smartwatches.
Understanding GPS functionality
GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that allows users to locate their exact geographic position, anywhere on or near the Earth, to within a few meters.
It enables users to determine their location by receiving satellite signals with an inbuilt antenna or through a mobile device.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides precise real-time positioning, navigation and timing services. It is maintained and operated by the United States Air Force Space Command.
GPS was originally developed for military applications but is now available for civilian use in cars and mobile phones and many other applications. The US Department of Defense developed the system, which has both military and civilian uses.
How GPS works
You need not be a rocket scientist to understand the concept of the global positioning system (GPS) and how it works in smartwatches. This system has revolutionized the way we travel.
It has become a necessity as it is used by vehicles, ships, smartwatches and aircraft to get their exact locations, accurate to within a few feet, anywhere on or near the earth.
But how does it work?
GPS satellites transmit information that a GPS receiver can use to calculate its position in latitude, longitude and altitude.
The GPS receiver uses signals from four or more satellites to solve for the x, y and z coordinates of its location.
At least three satellites must be in view of the receiver for the system to work properly. Because there are 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year, at any time there are at least four visible satellites above the horizon at any point on earth from any point on earth.
The GPS receiver also receives timing information from each satellite clock. The receiver compares this information with its own clock, which is used as an accurate reference for comparison purposes.
Each satellite continuously transmits its current time according to its own atomic clock and does so with extreme accuracy. The receiver compares this “atomic” time with its own clock and calculates how far off it is from the satellite time.
Is GPS accurate?
GPS accuracy is often limited by satellite visibility. Satellite signals are not always available due to weather conditions, buildings or other obstructions that prevent satellite signals from reaching the device.
Weather conditions such as rain or snow can block signals from reaching the device, resulting in inaccurate readings and reduced signal quality.
Additionally, buildings made of concrete or other dense materials can prevent signals from reaching the device. The larger and denser the structure is, the less likely it will allow GPS signals to penetrate it.
If you have a smartphone, chances are you’ve used it to find your way around. To measure the accuracy of GPS, tests at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that while the system works well in cities, it sometimes gets confused when you’re travelling on a road that’s not a grid.
Once a YouTuber drove over a bridge and under a tunnel- two locations where signals can get blocked- and the app was unable to figure out where he was.
Still, GPS is definitely more accurate than satellite navigation systems like the one built into my car. GPS function in the smartwatch is mainly loved because of the mobility it offers.
Use of GPS in Smartwatch
Smartwatches contain GPS capabilities, which are useful for activities like hiking and biking. They also allow you to track your fitness data, such as speed, distance and elevation.
What does GPS do on a smartwatch? Smartwatches can use GPS for step-by-step directions when used with a mapping app.
If you own a smartwatch powered by Android Wear, you can also download third-party mapping apps to help you get from point A to point B without your smartphone.
Do you know how to use a GPS watch? To make it work, the first map out your route by using the navigation app on your phone. After that, set the destination on your watch and start walking or driving towards it.
The watch will keep updating itself as you move closer to your destination and also alert you if there is a deviation in your route.
Benefits GPS in Smartwatch over a regular watch
GPS enabled smartwatches on the market are perfect for any athlete who wants to improve their performance but doesn’t want to spend hours making preparations.
It will help you improve your running, cycling, and hiking by providing lots of useful information about your workouts.
If you’re an athlete who loves spending time outdoors, a GPS watch is a perfect item for you. It will help you train harder and longer than ever before.
The best use of GPS in a smartwatch is you can see how far you’ve run or walked, how fast you’ve gone and also your pace. This data can be really valuable to any runner as it helps them improve their performance over time.
One of the most common problems with traditional watches is that they cannot help you determine where you are going or how fast you are moving.
This makes it impossible for you to find your way back home if you happen to be lost somewhere in the woods or any place else for that matter.
Disadvantages of GPS enabled smartwatches
GPS is a great invention and it makes our lives much easier. It enables us to navigate anywhere we want, without getting lost.
These smartwatches are popular products that you can use for running or other sports activities. Besides the mentioned above, there are some disadvantages of using such kinds of devices. They are:
Battery life- The battery life of most GPS devices is quite low (some of them are as low as 5 hours). In order to get the best results, you have to recharge it every few days which is a hassle if you’re always on the go.
Cost- The cost of GPS enabled watches differs a lot. Be sure to compare different models before you make a purchase. Smartwatch with GPS navigation might burn your pocket.
Size- If you don’t want your watch to be bulky, choose the one with the smallest size. However, this might come at the expense of functionalities The features that come with these watches vary from brand to brand so make sure you read thoroughly their description before purchasing a smartwatch.
Also, while it is not necessary to recharge your GPS watch daily, you should still do so if you run it on a regular basis.
The less you recharge your device, the longer its battery life will last and the better it will hold up over time.
Also, keep in mind that if your smartwatches with GPS functionality gets wet it could cause damage and the moisture could get inside the device and cause corrosion.
Conclusion | Using GPS in Smartwatches
So by now, you’re aware of how to use GPS in the smartwatch. As more and more individuals begin to rely on their smartphones for navigation, a new opportunity has emerged for the manufacturers of wearable tech.
Choosing to include global positioning in smartwatch models could open the door to millions of users who don’t want to lug around a large smartphone simply so they can find their way from Point A to Point B.
GPS watches will likely never be as accurate as a standalone GPS device, but they are consistent with the best devices on the market. And that’s good enough for most users who want to track their activities and workouts.
Watch brands such as Garmin and Fitbit have proven that smartwatches do not need to compromise their functionalities to be stylish, functional, and sleek.
Now, more than ever, it’s safe to purchase a smartwatch without forfeiting the key capabilities you want in a fitness wearable.