Friday, December 24, 2010

GPS fix for your Samsung Galaxy 3

My Samsung Galaxy 3 (GT-I5801) hardly used to get a fix to GPS satellites once a week. Initially I thought it was due to a cloudy day, but even on sunny days, with open sky, my applications like Google maps or Waze could almost never get a fix to GPS.

That is when I thought there might be a software issue and upon hunting on the internet bumped upon various settings to fix the GPS issue(yeah, on an Android phone, you can do a lot of tweaking and troubleshooting yourself!)

The following settings worked for me-
(do keep note of default values, in case you wish to revert back to your original settings)

  • From your phone dialer type *#*#1472365#*#*- This will bring up the secret GPSSetup2 application.
  • Settings\Parameter Settings\Address\Server Type: 1x MPC
  • Settings\Parameter Settings\Position mode: option3
  • Settings\Fix Request Settings\Session Operation: Standalone
  • Settings\Fix Request Settings\Server Option: Local
  • gpsOne XTRA\Xtra Enable: Enable

Next, save the settings by exiting and then turn off and on your phone.

I was able to get a fix with about 10 satellites within 20 seconds after this change!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Waking up Android, with Vodafone

After years of being immersed in Nokia phones, I got my first dose of the Android mobile operating system on the Samsung Galaxy 3 phone. I sure was in for a pleasant surprise and a whiff of fresh air. True to the spirit of the Google, the Android OS is free, accessible to everybody and revolves around Internet.

Need of the information Super-highway

I soon discovered that the Android ecosystem would be like a beast on leash till I let it have the power of Internet. I needed a dedicated internet connection for my phone.

Here around Delhi in India Vodafone provides internet services on mobile by the names of Vodafone Live! I got it enabled, happy by the fact that it is provided with no monthly rental and one needs to pay only as per usage of data. Happy that this would now let me enjoy Android I kicked off the Google search bar and was delighted to see Google search happening on my home screen natively.

Short Lived Success

I should point out now that though I was able to do Google searches and even open websites on the in-built browser, almost none of Android applications such as Waze, which needed Internet could access Internet!

I tried a lot, made configuration changes, went out in the open suspecting bad reception and even complained to the application developers of their app because I claimed that my phone was able to “even do Google searches, but your app could not connect to the internet”.

It turned out that Vodafone Live! Is actually providing just WAP service and not a full internet access. This is not very clearly mentioned on the Vodafone website.

The alternate service from Vodafone is the Vodafone Mobile Connect. Vodafone advertises this primarily as a service using which you can get internet on your laptop via your phone, but this is only because this service is the real internet/GPRS service we need for a full blown Internet access.

Enabling Vodafone Live! (Do be able to do basic web browsing and Google searches)

SMS ACT VL to 111

As of writing , this costs 10p for 10KB of data usage.

Once activated you need to configure an Access Point Names (APN) for the same as below:

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Tap on Wireless and network
  3. Tap on Mobile networks
  4. Tap on Access Point Names
  5. Type in the following settings, leaving all other settings as empty

a. Name: Vodafone_live

b. APN: Portalnmms

c. Server: 10.10.1.100

d. APN type: Internet

  1. 6. Tap Menu, and choose Save

Enabling GPRS (Unrestricted GPRS)

The cheapest option, as of writing, to get full GPRS costs Rs. 199 per month. This will give you 3 GB of free data usage.

To get the same, SMS “ACT VMC199” to 111.

Once activated you need to configure an Access Point Names (APN) for the same as below:

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Tap on Wireless and network
  3. Tap on Mobile networks
  4. Tap on Access Point Names
  5. Type in the following settings, leaving all other settings as empty

a. Name: Vodafone_www

b. APN: www

c. Authentication type: PAP or CHAP

d. APN type: *

  1. 6. Tap Menu, and choose Save


Remember:

Android is a Internet heavy application and a lot of application would want to use Internet for varied purposes, including showing ads. Listed below are two free applications which can help you tame Android into using GPRS

1) APNDroid - Hard blocks your phone into turning off/on GPRS

2) Data counter - Helps you monitor the total usage of packet data