Application Name: Bluetooth GPS Mouse
Description: Replaces internal GPS coordinate signal with one from an external Bluetooth GPS receiver.
Publisher’s website: Argotronic
Cost: Free version times out every 10 minutes; unlimited €1.99 version
Version/date reviewed: v. 0.95 / 10-2-10
Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2
Note: Before using this app, you will need to pair your external Bluetooth GPS with your Android phone, and enable “mock locations”; see the Appendix at the bottom of this post for more info.
The Bluetooth GPS Mouse app offers a few more features than the free Bluetooth GPS For Android app review yesterday. And it seemed to work fine yesterday when I first tried it. However, an update today seems to have added a minor bug on my Droid X; hopefully, that will get fixed soon.
Figure 1: Unlike the previous app, this one will prompt you to turn on Bluetooth if it’s not already on.
Figure 2: Once Bluetooth is on, tap on “Start Service” to start it up. You might want to check out the Options section before going further …
Figure 3: The standard Bluetooth connect method seemed to work fine for me, with the usual balkiness; if you have problems, try the alternate one. “Show Notify Icon” puts an icon in the status bar, handy for accessing the control panel again to shut off the service or change options.
Some apps (Google Maps and Bing Maps) can have problems when the unit’s main GPS is disabled; however, I found they worked fine with this box checked here, so I left it that way.
Figure 4: After setting the options, tap the “Start Service” button to start it running; this will enable the “Connect To Bluetooth Device” button at the top. Tap this to connect, and you’ll get a screen to choose the Bluetooth device …
Figure 5: Here, the HOLUX_M-1000 is my paired Bluetooth GPS unit, so I select it.
Figure 6: If the connection attempt is successful, you’ll get a “success” message, and a satellite status screen. This screen works fairly well, and usually (but not always) includes the WAAS satellite signal. You can now exit this page, and run whatever GPS application you want; they will now use the Bluetooth GPS receiver for position information instead of the built-in GPS. Note also the new icon in the status bar, which notifies you that you have an active Bluetooth GPS connection, and which also gives you immediate access to the app’s control screen.
Establishing a connection can sometimes take repeated attempts. If you’re having problems after multiple attempts, try turning the Bluetooth GPS receiver off and on. If that doesn’t work, try the “Alt. BT Connect Method” option.
Came across one bug, not major but annoying. Sometimes, the built-in GPS is not disabled successfully, and some GPS apps will start it up alongside the Bluetooth GPS receiver, draining your battery needlessly; you’ll know this is happening if you see the standard GPS icon appear in the status bar. The apps will then alternate getting positions from the built-in GPS and the Bluetooth GPS, sometimes causing your position to jump around. The only fix I found for this is to turn the Android unit off, and then back on again. This is an uncommon, sporadic problem; if you’re lucky, you may not even see it.
Except for the occasional bug described above, the app worked fine with every app I tried it out with. Having the satellite status screen is a plus, as other GPS apps won’t display that information. The free version times out every ten minutes, but for some uses that may be good enough. The unlimited paid version is only 2 euros (less than $3), so that won’t break your budget.
Appendix: Setting up an external Bluetooth GPS for use with your Android unit.
Here are some inexpensive external Bluetooth GPS units; a search on Amazon.com or eBay will bring up many more:
After you’ve bought the unit, charged it up and turned it on:
1. Go to Settings => Wireless & networks, and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.
2. Go to the “Bluetooth settings” section, and have your Android unit scan for new Bluetooth devices.
3. After it finds your Bluetooth GPS, it may ask you to enter a four-digit security code; for GPS units, if no code is included with your unit, “0000” usually works.
4. Your Android unit will now be “paired” with this Bluetooth GPS device; any apps that support Bluetooth GPS will have this device listed as an option. Unless you remove this pairing, you only need to do this once.
5. To use a Bluetooth GPS with apps that don’t support it natively, you’ll need either the app reviewed here, or one that performs a similar function. You will also need to enable “mock locations”: Settings => Applications => Development => check the “Allow mock locations” box.
6. DON’T DISABLE THE BUILT-IN GPS ON YOUR ANDROID. Some apps (e.g. Google Maps, Bing Maps) won’t work with external Bluetooth unless you have the built-in GPS enabled, even if they don’t actually use the built-in GPS for positions.