Update to MapTools Pro brings true (external) GPS to WiFi TouchPad | webOS Nation
 
 

Update to MapTools Pro brings true (external) GPS to WiFi TouchPad 30

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Wed, 31 Aug 2011 5:34 pm EDT

One of the less-discussed but still annoying missing features in the WiFi TouchPad was true hardware GPS (the GSM TouchPad was reportedly going to include a-GPS). Without actual GPS, location services for TouchPad apps were limited to the estimations made by Google Location, based upon detection of nearby WiFi hotspots whose physical location had been stored in a central database. This can suffice in some circumstances, but it is far less accurate, and provides far less information, than actual GPS hardware, making location-based applications less useful on the TouchPad.

One possibility that had been raised was whether the TouchPad could utilize a standalone Bluetooth GPS receiver to provide location information. Beginning with webOS 2.0, support for Bluetooth Serial Port protocol made this theoretically possible, but a new software service would be needed for apps to access the data. In response to a question at a recent NYC webOS Dev Meetup, Robert Burdick, Senior Developer Evangelist with the HP webOS Global Business Unit, confirmed that Enyo (the webOS 3.x development environment) supported custom services, although he wasn't aware of anyone doing one for GPS.

Now, one developer has taken on the challenge, at least for its own app. The latest version of MapTool Pro from MetaViewSoft included within its changelog, "support for external GPS devices." After pairing our TouchPad with an old Bluetooth GPS (the iTrek M3; newer ones are available in the PreCentral Store), we verified that Location Services were switched off and launched MapTools Pro. While the application itself is not yet TouchPad-optimized (it still runs in a Pre-shaped emulator card), it searched the list of paired Bluetooth devices and presented our GPS as one choice for location information ("Internal" was the other). We selected it and, as soon as the GPS had gotten a satellite fix, our TouchPad showed us the exact current location within the MapTools Pro screen.

While this unfortunately does not yet work with other TouchPad apps (MetaViewSoft did not patch the entire OS, but merely runs its interface as part of the app, much as DigiOBD does for Bluetooth OBDII auto scanners), it is exciting to see this as a proof of concept. MetaViewSoft has already offered to share its work with other developers, who can hopefully expand it into a full, system-accessible Enyo service, enabling a richer and more accurate set of applications and uses for the TouchPad.

Source: MapTool Pro, MetaView on Twitter
(thanks to Ben Stern, aka @webOSDealer, for the tip!)

30 Comments

Whoa, whats up with the developer love AFTER a product is killed? I like it!

welcome to webOS, a phone operating system fanatically loved so much that people will continue working on it no matter what the cost.

If any other OS, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile were to go through as much mismanagement, marketing failures and poor business decisions as webOS has they would have been dead long ago.

And, apparently, where you can actually post a screenshot of an app that is 75% unused screen real estate and consider it to be an accomplishment.

Don't be silly, no one considers posting a screenshot an accomplishment. They do it all the time here on PreCentral ;-).

Yeah you've obviously read this article and understand what the accomplishment is.

Just go away troll...

WebOS and Touchpad are the Firefly of the mobile community.

Lets hope it turns out to be more like the FAMILY GUY of the mobile community

wow, I was wondering about this possibility just the other day.

does anyone know if there could be any way to link a TouchPad to the gps in a WebOS 2.1 phone?

I assume at a minimum it would take a patch to the phone's OS and an app to publish the gps data via bluetooth, then another patch on the touchpad to read the gps data and make it available to the apps. it's all way beyond my knowledge level, but the webos-internals guys are very bright.

I think it should be pretty simple to create a phone app that emulates a Bluetooth GPS. Just needs to open up the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile and spit out reconstitutes NMEA messages (just a simple $GPGGA and or $GPRMC should do it).

Cheers Metaview, Maptool Pro was already great and is now even better.

NICE! I still have my Garmin BT receiver - will try this asap! Thanks for the heads up P|C! :D

I've never had good luck with Bluetooth GPS units. I use a USB GPS for my car pc. GlobalSat BU-353. If the developer has access to the micro USB connector on the bottom of the TouchPad, that would be pretty slick. But very cool and great work devs!

Mapping Tool Pro's bluetooth SPP support works on my Sprint FrankenPre2 as well, excellent work!

what about tethering the Pre/Pre+/Pre2/Pre3/Veer GPS over to the TP???? Any way of doing this?

LOVE IT! 'Bout time. Thanks to all the painstaking development time that so many folks put in out there to make our WEBOS WONDERFUL.

You know, say what you will about webOS, but our developers are awesome. They don't have to share anything that they coded, but they are. The mentality we have here is nothing like any other community, and I'm so glad that more people get to be a part of it now.

Would love Navigon on my touchpad!!

This would be great. I have one of those older stand alone GPS units around and would love to get it working with the TouchPad.

I'm confused. I just got one of the $99 Touchpads and everytime I launch the Maps app, it finds exactly where I am.

That's because google pinpointed yours or someone near you wifi signal when they were going around taking all the pictures.

I bought this as soon as it was out !!! Thanks for the update :)

Wow great! But unfortunately I do not have a GPS device. I would like to use my veer. On the Veer my mapping tool pro works great, even far away from civilization! I prefer to use this decent program over google maps because google maps needs constant high traffic internet connection... here I can cache big maps!

would this mean a possibility of Bluetooth connection with cell phones?

I hope the developer will bring out MapTools Pro HD soon (and gives a free update to those who bought the original).

HD will come soon and build into the existing MapTool Pro. No need to rebuy. In the time between I will create a BT SPP server app for phone which provides position as NMEA string.

Good to know. Thanks! We'll be buying the app soon.

I still have my old BT GPS and had a try. Map Tools Pro connection worked! But the location fix it showed was about 80 km off! Hopefully it is just cause of all the buildings around here. I'll give it another try.

Good to hear someone working on using out Pre phones as GPS devices for a paired TouchPad ...now add support for using the camera and microphone as a attached device.

Obviously Bluetooth has sufficient bandwidth for remote GPS, but video + sound will require WiFi. Could use the Bluetooth pairing to share setup info for an adhoc private socket pair between TouchPad and phone.

Someone trying this? ...suggested weeks ago.

I just paired my touchpad with a cheap external bluetooth gps receiver from *bay for $14 and the app works. It was not way off like one of the earlier posts, but actually followed me around as well as my tom tom. Granted, the app doesn't allow you to input destinations yet, but for a simple navigation app, this works amazingly well!

Nice, paired nicely with a Canmore GT-750F(L) bluetooth GPS tracker. Wish that MapTools Pro it had a satellite view though. I'll be testing this while I drive around and see how it goes.

The company specializes in the business process itself Gps tracker . Some do not contribute directly to the mainstream of the need for infrastructure to support the primary process . The need for protection, security and business continuity requirements, there is a third Track trace