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Whether I use Google's location services or similar services provided by some third-party software, do I still need to manually enable anything by selecting one of the settings options, as shown below?

Settings > Location and Security > My location (Option1) Use wireless networks (Option2) Use GPS satellites

Since there are many GPS software programs available these days, what is the role of the onboard GPS chip on an Android phone?


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I'm not sure I understand your question. Without enabling either the GPS or wireless network location access, the software won't be able to reasonably locate you - so yes, you need to enable one (or both) of them. – eldarerathis Mar 8 '13 at 20:09
Similarly, your second question is somewhat confusing to me. The role of the GPS is to provide accurate location information. How would "GPS software programs" be able to replace a hardware GPS chip? They need to get your location from somewhere, and things like cellular/wifi triangulation are incredibly inaccurate compared to an actual GPS, if that's what you're referring to. – eldarerathis Mar 8 '13 at 20:11
Thanks for a prompt reply. If the hardware chip is so strong to detect and receive GPS signals from GPS satellites, then why is there a need to enable those options? Am I confusing the act of physically locating a device in terms of longitude, lattitude, and altitude, with the act of rendering location based services? – user29833 Mar 8 '13 at 20:23
Possibly, although I'm still not 100% sure if I'm understanding what you mean. The hardware is indeed capable of receiving GPS signals from satellites. The settings essentially determine whether or not software on your device is permitted to access that hardware and its data, so if the GPS setting is disabled the software will not be allowed to use it (although it may be physically present). Is that sort of what you're getting at? – eldarerathis Mar 8 '13 at 20:26

The GPS applications will not work accurately unless you enable the on board GPS so all you have to do is simply check "Use GPS Satellites".

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For your first question: You can turn on both options (use wireless networks and use GPS satellites) and leave them on without any fear of battery usage or penalty. This just tells the system that it is permitted to use those when a program asks for them. Then they'll automatically activate and begin working when you use a program that requires them.

For your second question: The GPS chip on board is what talks to the satellites and actually gathers the data. The different GPS programs simply use that data and present it to you in different ways.

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