Improving Android’s GPS accuracy with 3D mapping in big cities

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How many times have you summoned a cab that arrived on the wrong side of the road or even a block away from where you were waiting? This isn’t because you fed in the wrong location; Google says, it is because “all GPS systems are based on line-of-sight operation from satellites,” in cities these “signals” reach us “through non line-of-sight reflections,” as the “direct signals are blocked” by the high rises. To solve the problem of line-of-sight and to help us in our overzealous dependence on accuracy of navigation abilities of our mobile devices, Google is working on use of 3D mapping aided corrections.

In the continuing effort to provide accurate location information, Google is using API like Fused Location Provider (FLP) in Android. This for now works with Android 8 and above devices but is in a very nascent stage. The next phase of 3D mapping has rolled out for Pixel 4a 5G and 5 for now, it’s more refined and is coming to all Android 8 and upward devices by next year.

Developers can take advantage of FLP to get better location information through Android’s 3D mapping correction. Latter automatically works with GPS in 3850+ cities identified by Google including all majors in North America, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

Reportedly, Google is releasing version 2 of the 3D mapping aided correction on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G later this month. This will be a more refined version of the first – and would aim to reduce “wrong side of the street occurrences” by up to 75 percent. For contrast, the other Android phones with version 1 in FLP only reduce the possibility by approximately 50-percent.

Version 2, which will be available for Google’s own 2020 flagships soon, will be available for other smartphones with Android 8 or later in early 2021. It is also impertinent to note here that Google Maps is also in for some updates that provide additional “street level details” for pedestrians.

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