Application Name: GPS Monitor
Description: Shows basic GPS data in the status bar whenever any app enables GPS
Publisher’s website: Illyrm
Cost: Free basic version; paid Pro version adds additional features
Version/date reviewed: v.1.0.5 / 6-22-11
Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.3
Many GPS apps for Android come with a GPS status screen that shows the number of GPS satellites currently in the sky, the number of satellites for which a signal has been found, and whether a GPS location fix has been locked in. However, many popular apps like Google Maps/Navigation/Earth have no such indicator; there’s only a GPS status bar indicator that shows you whether you have a fix or not. GPS Monitor adds an additional indicator to the status bar that shows the number of satellites that a signal is being received from, the number of satellites for which there’s a position “fix”, and whether a final position fix has been obtained.
Running the program starts up a resident service on your Android phone; anytime you start up a program that enables your GPS, the service adds an icon to the status bar (above, at left). The number indicates the number of GPS satellites from which a signal is being received, while the “red eye” indicates that no position fix has been obtained.
Once a GPS position lock has been obtained, the “red eye” turns in to the green symbol seen at upper left; the green number indicates the number of satellites for which a signal lock has been obtained. You can change this number to all satellites in view using the program’s Settings section, but the default setting of satellites with a signal lock is probably the best option.
Pull down the status bar, and you’ll get more information, including the total number of satellites for which a signal is being received (the first number), and the number of “signal lock” satellites (the second number).
The second line in the status bar dropdown is an additional information field that can be specified in the Settings section; however, I couldn’t get this to work on my phone for any of the options (from the app reviews, I gather this is an anomaly). Another available option in Settings is to start/stop the GPS Monitor service, but even after disabling this option, it started up again on its own when I rebooted my phone. It uses about 6-7 MB of RAM, something to keep in mind if you have a low RAM phone or a lot of other services running.
Other issues: The paid Pro version currently only adds an audio tone to indicate when GPS has been enabled, and when a fix has been obtained. The developer indicates that he’ll be adding GPS diagnostics to the app, as well as a “keep alive” option that will keep the GPS running even when no app requires it. The latter is great for quick position fixes, but can really burn through your battery very quickly.
Final thoughts: Unless RAM is tight on your system, installing the free version is a no-brainer; having a satellite status/number icon for apps that don’t come with it is a huge help in figuring out whether your GPS is working correctly or not. For the paid Pro version, I would wait until the additional features are added (and also whether the additional information field is working on your system).