iFaux GPS Put to the Test

Roberto Baldwin's picture

iFaux GPS Put to the Test

iPhone firmware 1.1.3 brought Google Location's cell tower and Wi-Fi triangulation to the mobile device. When Steve Jobs demoed the technology at his annual Mac Expo Keynote, he exclaimed, "It's going to locate me right on the map. Zoom. That's cool."

 

We decided to see how "cool" the Enhanced Maps feature truly is with a real world test. Armed with an iPhone, digital camera and a car, I drove to various Bay Area landmarks to see just how well the iPhone, with updated Maps, could find me.

 

The testing process I used was simple:

• I arrived at a location. Using the iPhone's Maps, I then tried to pin-point my exact location on my own, without using the iPhone's locator;
• In the map, I dropped a pin (red pin) and created a bookmark of my location;
• I used the iPhone Maps Location feature to locate me (blue pin).
• I then figured out the difference between the two points. The distance stated between to the two points is "as the crow flies," a straight line between the two points.

 

In the following images, the first map is my actual location, the second is my location as determined by the iPhone, and the third is the distance between those points.

 

 

The Ferry Building in San Francisco.

 

Located on the Embarcadero adjacent to the Financial District in downtown San Francisco, the Ferry Building is good choice to determine how well you can be located while on your lunch break from your high-power corporate job or while you're skateboarding the concrete jungle. I stood near the clock tower; the iPhone located me on the train tracks of the F Line.

 

The real world iFaux GPS difference: Approximately 175 feet.

 

 

The Cliff House in San Francisco.

 

In the northwest corner of San Francisco is the Cliff House. This popular restaurant (established in 1858) overlooks the ocean and is a well-known destination with tourists and hopeless romantics. I stood in front of the restaurant's new sign and was located by the iPhone at the nearby Safeway supermarket. Both have food available - only one will serve it to you while you watch a spectacular sunset.

 

The real world iFaux GPS difference: Approximately .5 miles.

 

 

El Farolito Taqueria in San Francisco.

 

Standing about and pushing buttons on a super phone creates quite an appetite. So I stopped at my favorite taqueria, El Farolito in the Mission district, for a delicious burrito. Apparently, burritos are important enough to register the best distance rating.

 

The real world iFaux GPS difference: Approximately 45 feet.

 

19

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

freedom8707

Or you could just download Location Spoofer on iPhone. Works great for me!

avatar

Jiiyah

Very Useful information, this is both good reading for, have quite a few good key points, and I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information.
Want to buy at low prices? There is a good source to help your business grow and profitable to buy handbags at wholesale prices from our best China wholesale online stores offering wide range of wholesale products including cheap handbags, designer handbags, wholesale handbags, replica handbags, UGG boots, shoes, clothing, watches, jewelry, wallets, wholesale shoes, wholesale clothing, wholesale watches, wholesale jewelry, wholesale wallets, wholesale UGG boots and many more. Whatever style you choose, you would get a good price!

avatar

Jiiyah

Very Useful information, this is both good reading for, have quite a few good key points, and I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information. Want to buy at low prices? There is a good source to help your business grow and profitable  to buy <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">handbags</a> at <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">wholesale</a> prices from our best <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">China wholesale</a> online stores offering wide range of wholesale products including <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">cheap handbags</a>, <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">designer handbags</a>, <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">wholesale handbags</a>, <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">replica handbags</a>, <a href="http://www.superchinawholesale.com">UGG boots</a>, shoes, clothing, watches, jewelry, wallets, wholesale shoes, wholesale clothing, wholesale watches, wholesale jewelry, wholesale wallets, wholesale UGG boots and many more. Whatever style you choose, you would get a good price!

avatar

suaili

And we also provide fast delivery service, guarantee our listing price is lower than other competitors.replicas watches and professional customer service. We are more than ready to show our unique prowess and fortes to gain our footing.

avatar

benet

Were not smart, but also learn from others bald.omega watchesChing had no water to fish, one to the cheap is invincible.replica watchI left Dragon, White Tiger right shoulder tattooed Mickey Mouse.replica watchesEfforts should be made! ! For your Audi Dior me.lkasd

avatar

xiaodanhu

Ah louis vuitton handbagswell
Very good articlelouis vuitton handbags written, let me understand a lot

avatar

Anonymous

As has been said already the real useful part for me is "the next step" where I can use the "found" info to help get me to my next destination. I have tested it on major highways and on country roads and I found it is faster and a bit more accurate in town but for my needs I find it awesome! I love my iPhone more everyday.

avatar

smokeonit

google maps wps in germany is varying like in your results... depending on haow many cell towers and wifi hotspots are picked up.

i had hits as precise as 10feet, 3m, and as far way as .6miles, 1km....

avatar

Kim Hill

Around my neighborhood (Greenwich Village/NYC), it's typical accurate to within 30-80 feet - impressive. But at the NYC Googleplex tonight, it showed a gigantic probability circle that I normally see only if I turn off WiFi. Weird.

avatar

Stephen

I think you can't generalize how well it works based on tests in Apple and Google's backyard (literally). I did some testing myself, and am pleased with the system, but wouldn't say it's anywhere near .5 mile accuracy in general! Right now it pinpoints me about 4 miles away from where I'm sitting - not even in the "blue circle".

avatar

Mark Cogan

You say you "used the iPhone Maps Location feature to locate me (blue pin)". But I think what you actually did is to drop a blue pin at the center of the circle displayed by the Location feature. The Location feature isn't saying that you are located at the center of the circle; it's saying that you are *somewhere within* the circle. Smaller circle, better guess. Stated another way, the data type that the nominal "Location function" returns isn't a point, it's an area.

So it's only accurate to say there's a "difference" between your actual location and the approximation returned by the Location feature if your actual location is outside the area that the Location feature said you were in. In every case where you showed the Location circle, that wasn't the case -- so the Location function was 100% accurate in those cases.

Still: cool tests!

avatar

Anonymous

It's not a huge surprise to see that dense commercial areas would have the best results. More wifi, more cell towers to triangulate with. Being in a residential area, or next to a large body of water where the wifi and cell towers are all on one side, makes triangulation more like obfuscation.

avatar

RayCon

I was recently driving from Florida to Minnesota, and somewhere in Georgia I required some good coffee, not from one of the machines at the rest stops on the interstate. My wife used my iPhone to pinpoint our location and then typed in Starbucks. Sure enough, there was one a half mile east of the next exit. That was a lifesaver!

avatar

Anonymous

But I thought you wanted good coffee?

avatar

Anonymous

Out and about in London, my phone typically gives me a 5 mile radius. Every now and then it gave me something closer but still a huge radius.

Meanwhile, my buddy standing right next to me was able to get something down to the street level. And if we walked 20 feet down the road and pressed the little button again, the little circle would move correspondingly.

So, can you imagine going into an Apple or O2 store saying, "My faux-GPS locator thingy is not as good as his ... please fix it."

Still I would love to know why his works and mine does not.

avatar

Anonymous

His probably works better because he has wifi turned on.

avatar

Steve

Generally I know where I am on the map.... It's been pretty good at locating me, certainly close enough that I can easily fine tune it.... The real benefit for me has been the next step.... After it's located me (and I've fine tuned it) it's been really nice for getting me to the next place I want to go... It's no Garmin, but it does the job pretty well.....

avatar

Eleventeen

I'm guessing for this you had the Wifi enabled? Or are there so many towers in San Fran that it's easy to triangulate down to such a close margin?

I've found that where I live, half the time, having the wifi turned on stalls out the location finder, turning it off instantly gives me a location but with a wide radius.

On a recent trip on the interstate thru a section of the Florida panhandle which could only lovingly be called 'sparse', the location circle was perhaps 5 miles wide, a good 10 miles off, and on the wrong interstate even.

Log in to Mac|Life directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.