You probably know that Android can boost your GPS accuracy using the signals of nearby wireless networks. But a recently-discovered feature in Marshmallow lets your phone use Bluetooth devices to do the same thing.
Find out how easy it is to use Bluetooth devices to boost GPS accuracy in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Step 1) Go to Settings
Step 2) Tap Location
Step 3) Tap the Options menu button (the three dots in the top right corner of your screen)
Step 4) Tap Scanning
Step 5) Toggle the Bluetooth scanning slider from off to on (some users have reported this is already on by default)
What Is It?
Previous versions of Android have used surrounding Wi-Fi signals to help triangulate your GPS position more quickly. Instead of waiting for a signal to arrive from space, your phone can triangulate your position using the relative strength of surrounding wireless networks from fixed points.
This Wi-Fi scanning feature works even when your phone’s Wi-Fi is turned off (at least, as long as you’ve turned on that setting).
How Does It Work?
So how does scanning for nearby Bluetooth devices improve your phone’s GPS accuracy?
That’s the part where this gets a little hazy: people don’t really seem to know how it works. Most Bluetooth devices are constantly on the move and don’t have fixed positions. Does your phone communicate with other Bluetooth devices, steal their location data, and then use that data to pinpoint your location? Who knows? Google hasn’t exactly explained this technology and it wasn’t advertised as part of the Marshmallow release.
Is GPS Worse on Marshmallow?
There have been reports from some Android users that their GPS scanning has actually become worse after upgrading to Android Marshmallow.
These problems, as has always been the case, are particularly noticeable if you’re in a very urban or very remote area. In either case, your GPS signal could get lost somewhere along the way before it reaches you.
It’s unknown if this is actually true as the reports are small in number and totally anecdotal – but activating the Bluetooth scanning using the tutorial above is a surefire way to improve your GPS accuracy regardless.