What is GPS? How Does it Work?

Basically, GPS is an electronic information system created by the US military and which began to be used by them in 1972. It was actually much more of a test base than a relief tool. Many adjustments were necessary before reaching the current version. Uses of GPS in Everyday Life

However, and given its usefulness and versatility for the precise location of a geographical point, after a few years it left the barracks and settled in the civil sphere, until today it has become one of the most important tools, along with the cell phone. , with which humanity counts.

We recommend you read Cellphone. History and Evolution of Cell Phones

What is GPS? Uses of GPS in Everyday Life

GPS (Global Positioning System) is short for Global Positioning System. It is a satellite-based radionavigation system developed by the Department of Defense of the United States of America that allows any user to know their location, speed and height, 24 hours a day, under any atmospheric condition and at any point on the globe.

The history of GPS begins after the Second World War, when the US Department of Defense struggled to find a solution to the problem of precise and absolute global positioning . Various projects and experiences passed over the next 25 years, including Loran, Transit, and others.

All of these systems made it possible to determine global position but were limited in precision or functionality. However, at the beginning of the 1970s an idea was envisioned that would solve all the problems of the previous systems, thanks to a new project called GPS.

To understand how the global positioning system works, we first have to know that GPS is made up of three components: spatial, control, and user.

The space component is made up of a constellation of satellites in Earth orbit at approximately 20,200 km, distributed in 6 orbital planes. These planes are separated from each other by approximately 60 in length and have inclinations close to 55 in relation to the Earth’s equatorial plane. It was conceived so that there are at least 4 visible satellites above the horizon at any point on the surface and at any height.

The control component is made up of 5 tracking stations distributed throughout the globe and a main control station (MCS-Master Control Station). This component tracks the satellites, updates their orbital positions, and calibrates and synchronizes their clocks. Another important function is to determine the orbits of each satellite and to predict its trajectory for the next 24 hours. This information is sent to each satellite to later be transmitted by it, informing the local receiver where it is possible to find the satellite.

The user component includes all those who use a GPS receiver to receive and convert the GPS signal into position, speed and time. It also includes all the necessary elements in this process, such as antennas and processing software.

How does GPS work?  uses of gps in everyday life

The basic fundamentals of GPS are based on the determination of the distance between a point: the receiver, to other reference points: the satellites. Knowing the distance that separates us from 3 points we can determine our position relative to those same 3 points through the intersection of 3 circles whose radii are the distances measured between the receiver and the satellites. In reality, it takes at least 4 satellites to determine our position on the globe correctly, but let’s save that for later.

Each satellite transmits a signal that is received by the receiver, this, in turn, measures the time it takes for the signals to reach it. Multiplying the time measured by the speed of the signal (the speed of light), we obtain the receiver-satellite distance, (Distance = Speed ​​x Time).

However, satellite positioning is not that simple. Obtaining an accurate distance measurement is not an easy task. The distance can be determined through the modulated codes in the wave sent by the satellite (C / A and P codes), or by the analysis of the carrier wave. These codes are complicated. The receiver was prepared in such a way that it only deciphers those codes and none else, thus it is immune to interference generated by natural or intentional sources. This is one of the reasons for the complexity of the codes.

How do you use a GPS? uses of gps in everyday life

GPS technology is already in many portable devices that we use in our daily lives. There are many models of cell phones, watches, handheld computers, notebooks, and car trackers. The most popular use is in vehicles, used as a map navigation system, ideal for guiding distracted drivers. GPS is also widely used in the civil and commercial aviation industry, and is equally in demand in maritime navigation. Everyone benefits from this technology. It should be noted that some countries, such as Syria, North Korea and Egypt, prohibit the use of GPS.

The use of any GPS receiver model is relatively simple, although a reading of the manual and some knowledge about geotargeting make a big difference. If we want to “squeeze” a GPS of a certain model, we must enroll in a course, browse the many forums that exist or find a friend who has a similar GPS model and knows how to enter the fascinating world of satellite-assisted navigation.

The market has several manufacturers of GPS receivers and all have low-cost models, which can be installed on the windshield of the vehicle or even on the belt, while traveling on the roads, also providing the altitude and speed with precision. Some models make it possible to download data to a computer or vice versa. It is possible to plot a route on the computer and send the preset route to the GPS so that it can guide us later.

When it is programmed in advance, it will help you locate previously defined points or a route that you traced on our PC or that someone traveled previously and downloaded it from another GPS. In field work, this device can mark the geolocation of a house, the place of an accident, planting areas or any geographic coordinate that is needed.

Like any other radio device, GPS needs to see the sky to receive the signals transmitted by the satellite network. On very cloudy days and with cheap GPS, it is likely that the GPS will not be able to obtain enough signal, in these cases it is better to wait a few minutes in the place until the device manages to capture a signal.

If we are going to use GPS for delicate operations, we must opt ​​for a GPS that allows the placement of an external antenna, which must be installed in the highest part of the vehicle, such as the roof or trunk. In this way the visualization of the sky is clearer than if the internal GPS antenna were being used, inside the vehicle. If your model does not have an option for an external antenna, you should fix it to the windshield so that the antenna achieves the highest possible visibility of the sky.

GPS availability uses of gps in everyday life

GPS is an intelligent device

that, based on signals emitted from a network of 24 satellites, guarantees geographical location anywhere on the planet. Although the precursor of this system was the US government, the truth is that today, there are other GPS systems operating in the world, such as both Russia and the People’s Republic of China and the European Union.

This is because until 2000 the United States Department of Defense put many obstacles in the use of the transmission of these signals by

civilians and third parties. GPS devices for civilian use could not operate with an accuracy of less than 90 meters. What was done to help, ended up confusing and hindering.

The problems dissipated after the signing of a law declaring an end to interference that prevented the efficient transmission of system signals. Currently, Russia and the United States are the owner countries of the two operating systems in the world, but as we mentioned, the Europeans and the Chinese already have their GPS systems in the test phase that are going to be launched in the not too distant future.

The fact of having several GPS systems is very important since the North American system, for example, could stop being free at any time, if the Department of Defense at the White House so decides. They have their own system, which is integrated with the others.

GPS applications 

The GPS or Global Positioning System is a modern technology that is used mainly to locate the position of an object. The object can be anything from vehicles to a human. The GPS system has been available to the public for 20 years. Today, the GPS system is used in practically all activities of human life.

GPS in mobile phones: The advancement of GPS technology is used in the mobile phone industry. Some mobile phones are based on the 3G network. Today’s mobile phones use the global positioning satellite system.

The GPS receiver in mobile phones receives the signal transmitted by the global positioning satellite . This helps to determine the location, time, and speed of the object – that is, the cellular device.

GPS in personal vehicles: What works for a mobile phone also works for vehicles such as buses, trucks, cars and even motorcycles. GPS technology is being used mostly to track the position and movement of vehicles. Using the GPS system in your vehicle helps you to accurately locate the route of your vehicle.

GPS in the police: Global Positioning System technology is also used by the police to track criminals with monitored exits.

GPS in game consoles: The GPS system is used in various game consoles allowing to actually position players on a map. There are really well-known and popular games on the market that take advantage of this technology for entertainment.

Maps and GPS coverage uses of gps in everyday life

All cities are covered by GPS satellites. And many times due to lack of information on the part of the manufacturers, many people can confuse the coverage of the software with the coverage of the satellite system.

Some navigation software has maps of streets and routes of some cities and countries, but, depending on the equipment, not all cities are covered by the system. This means that there are cities in which the names of the streets, the directions of travel and other traffic issues are not detailed.

However, the fact that the software does not have this possibility does not mean that the city is not covered by the GPS satellite system. That or those cities, only do not have a map that represents their streets on the computer.

Currently, several GPS mapping software are available on the market, for example: Nokia Maps, Tom Tom and Garmin, among many others. Each has a library of street and route maps of cities anywhere in the world. It is possible that one of these programs lacks a map of a city in the interior and another does. This means, again, that the program does not have that city in its files even though it has GPS coverage.If you are in a city with these characteristics, the GPS will only indicate the position in latitude and longitude, unreadable for most people. In other words, the limitations of city map coverage depend on the operating software that the GPS devices have, not on the system itself.

The best devices are those that allow the installation of various programs, such as tablets, smart phones and notebooks. Vehicle GPS generally comes with a program installed that cannot be modified, only updated with new maps and more information. Therefore, when choosing a GPS, the most important thing is to know the details of the installed software. The program details the cities it includes and the mapped points of interest, among other things.

GPS without internet connection uses of gps in everyday life

There is no doubt that the possibility of  having a GPS available on the cell phone  is one of the best ideas that engineers and technology developers could have had, since it offers us the opportunity  to locate and position ourselves anywhere in the world in may we meet with truly astonishing precision.

However,  the possibilities of the GPS do not end there,  but extend until we can give us with an almost zero margin of error the route that we have to do to reach a certain point that we have previously adjusted, including the stops that we will have to make in the way to refuel or stretch your legs.

However, there is a small problem that we have to solve  so that using GPS is a perfect experience:  that there is a constant connection to the Internet, which can only be achieved with the data rate.

Unfortunately, although we can have a  fast data connection through 3G or 4G, it  may happen that in the data plan that we have contracted  we do not have enough credit to face the large amount of data necessary for the GPS to work  properly.

It may also happen that we are simply  in an area where we cannot connect to the Internet  because we do not have telephone masts near our position, having to resort to the wisdom of the locals to reach our destination, in the event that we can meet someone to ask.

That is why the ideal alternative for all these cases is to  use an application that allows us to use GPS without an Internet connection.

Fortunately, there are GPS navigation applications that allow precisely this, of which we have selected those that in our opinion offer the best features and options, with which the only thing we will have to worry about is  downloading the maps via WiFi  and having Enough battery in the device to withstand the trip before turning the ignition key.

The best GPS without internet connection uses of gps in everyday life

Although, as we mentioned,  there are dozens of GPS navigation applications without an Internet connection,  for this article we have selected those that meet a series of stability requirements, options,  quality of the GPS maps that the application uses to guide us on the road  and by supposed availability of the same.

Google maps uses of gps in everyday life

There is no doubt that Google Maps over time has become one of the   most valued offline GPS navigation applications on the market, mainly due to the fact that it is a Google product, with all the quality standards that This assumes this fact, but also due to its simplicity of use and the quantity and quality of options and features.

Thanks to all the sources of information that Google can turn to, Maps is practically  the most up-to-date compendium of streets, routes, addresses, buildings and places of interest that can be found.  It also offers other features such as the possibility of offering us traffic data in real time, of course, in this case we will need a connection, and public transport routes, among many other functions.

However,  the most interesting point of this GPS navigator without an Internet connection is that it allows us the possibility of downloading maps to the cell phone,  both complete and sections thereof, which facilitates the task when we need only a small portion of the map to move around the area.

When we download the map, what we can do through the WiFi connection at home, for example,  Google Maps will work in the same way as if it were connected to the Internet , that is, we only have to set the destination and follow the GPS indications.

Google Maps is completely free,  both the application and the maps, and is available for Android, Apple and other platforms.

Here Maps

Here WeGo,  formerly known as Nokia Maps, Ovi Maps and later as Here Maps,  is a map service originally created by Nokia to include it on your cell phones and other devices. Currently en is one of the  offline GPS navigation applications  with one of the most comprehensive databases of streets and sites, covering 180 countries and  voice-assisted driving  in more than 40 languages.

However,  the main feature of Here WeGo is that it allows the downloading of maps from the phone or from the computer,  which offers us the possibility of not depending on the cell phone signal,  that is, using the GPS offline,   to guide us to our destination, since in this way  we have the maps stored on the cell phone or computer with Windows 10.


TomTom is one of the most prestigious developers and manufacturers of GPS devices in the world, and how could it be otherwise, also among its developments is  a GPS navigator without an Internet connection.

Basically  it is a mobile version of the TomTom GPS,  and it includes  maps to be used offline,  that is, stored on the phone, which allows us to start a trip without the need for a stable telephone signal.

At this point  TomTom Go Mobile is also  one of the best alternatives to use a GPS without an Internet connection,  since we can take advantage of all the experience that the firm has in this field. In addition, the application and its maps are completely free.

Other GPS without internet connection

Up to this point  we have mentioned only  the most popular offline GPS navigation applications, and therefore the most popular ones.

However, this does not mean that they are the only ones, since there are also many others, which although they are less known,  also offer a very important range of features and functions as good as the most popular apps.

From this point on,  the GPS apps without an Internet connection  that we should also give a chance to.


Considered by many users  as one of the most complete offline GPS apps,  once OsmAnd is tested, it is difficult to deny this statement, since impressive  offline GPS navigator  offers a series of really useful features for all types of users, both the  accustomed to use the car like those who like to go on foot.


Among the most important functions we can mention the possibility of consulting POI’s (Points of Interest),  GPX navigation, system used by hiking enthusiasts,  compass, specific routes to go by car or on foot, voice navigation and many other features.

The maps used to trace the routes are provided by  Open Street Maps  and Wikipedia, so they will always be updated, thanks to the dynamics of this type of service. These are loaded directly on the device,  so we no longer have to worry about the data rate when we start a trip.


Another  GPS navigator without an Internet connection  that could not be missed in this article is  Sygic , an impressive  offline GPS app packed with features and functions,  and which is also very easy to use.

Basically  the popularity of Sygic is due to the fact that the app uses TomTom maps,  which is definitely a seal of quality that few can match. However, the features of the app are what made it so popular, since it includes, for example, the possibility of consulting and storing POIs,  notifier of nearby radars, maximum speed indicators,  search by coordinates and 3D view, among many other practices. functions.

What is the difference between LTE and 4G

In addition to having free updates,  the app is really easy to use,  and although its design is focused on being used in a car, it also offers a walking mode.

As a curious fact,  we can mention that it is possible that the GPS voice instructions come from Homer Simpson and Mr. Burns,  characters from the well-known television series “The Simpsons”, however, this feature is only available in the Premium version and only in English language.

Sygic is completely free,  and it is available for the Android and iOS platforms.

Formerly known as Navfree, it is a very complete  GPS app without an Internet connection,  with truly enviable performance and stability. Another point in favor of Navmii is the possibility of being able to configure its options as best we want.

Like  other offline GPS apps  we’ve mentioned in this article,  Navmii gets its maps from Open Street Map,  ensuring they’re always up-to-date and complete.


Among the most important features of Navmii we can mention the voice navigation options,  integrated Google Street View,  real-time traffic information, of  course , for this we will have to be connected to the network, optimized search, and many other features. useful for all types of travelers.

What is Geocaching?

Basically, Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. Who hides the treasure, shares the coordinates (latitude and longitude) with other people on the internet. Equipped with a device that includes a GPS, we insert the coordinates of where the “treasure” is hidden, called a cache or geocache, and we go out into nature in search of it.

The search can be done by a cache that is a few meters away from our location or even on another continent. If our idea is to unplug from the internet and connect with nature, but without neglecting technology, we should know everything that Geocaching can offer us.

Geocachig: Where to hide and seek?

The place can be varied: a park, a square, a famous or deserted street, a beach or even on the top of a mountain. The latter requires specialized technical equipment and is generally performed by geocachers (as cache hunters are called) who have technical knowledge about the sport in question, in this case, mountaineering. The places are also classified by levels of difficulty, which generally range from 1 to 5.


Geocaching: What is Cache like?

These caches are usually plastic boxes (mom’s tupperware works well) that contain some gifts, which are exchanged. This is one of the rules of the game: take one gift and leave another. Another basic rule of thumb is to complete a logbook present in almost all chaches. This guestbook is used to record how many people discovered the cache and where they are from. In some cases there are specific chaches of some object, for example, the change of CDs. uses of gps in everyday life

Geocaching: Sport or a game?

Geocaching classification is still questioned by many, including geocachers. Some call it game, some call it sport, some call it hunting, and some see it simply as a fun and walking activity. Although Geocaching is more than just passing by, it carries with it a concern for the environment. One of the recommendations is to practice “Cache In, Trash Out”, that is, leave the place clean and if possible collect some of the garbage from the place.

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