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How to make Google Maps more accurate

By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

When we’re traveling, I depend on Google Maps to know where I am. It can be very distressing when I realize that my little blue dot, which represents my location, is actually a block or two off from where I really am. When that happens, it’s time to calibrate the compass.

In addition to my location, the shadow beam of the blue dot shows which direction I am facing. The more accurate your compass is, the narrower and more useful this directional shadow will be. My first tips are for Android only; I will end with some comments about iPhones.

There are two ways to calibrate your Android phone’s compass for Google Maps:

  • Manual calibration
  • Live View calibration – even greater accuracy

Manual calibration

To manually calibrate your compass, just tap on the blue dot. You should see a blue screen like that on the left below. When you tap on “Calibrate compass, you will see a screen like that on the right. Grab your phone and do 3 figure 8s as pictured and it should improve your compass accuracy. You should see Low, Medium, or High.

Live view calibration

This is a new feature of Google Maps on Android. It is especially useful when you are in dense downtown areas and your phone may have difficulty getting a GPS fix. This uses live view to get a fix using the streets, buildings and signs you see in front of you. After tapping the blue dot, you should see “Calibrate with Live View.” If you don’t see that, you may need to move to a different location by a public street. After tapping the “Calibrate with Live View” you should be seeing what your phone’s camera sees. Just lift it up so it sees the street, buildings and signs and wait for it to get a fix. You’re done.

On iPhones

These Google Map calibration features are not currently available on iPhones. You can improve accuracy by making sure that automatic calibration is turned on in settings: Settings, Privacy, Location Services = on, scroll to the bottom and tap on System Services, make sure Compass Calibration is on. You can further improve accuracy by turning on WiFi and Bluetooth. You don’t need to connect, just have them on.


Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.

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Mike
1 year ago

Great tip! I had no idea, thanks

patti panuccio
1 year ago

Thank you for the new tip. How often should you do this?

Leonard Rempel
1 year ago

Brilliant tip on the “Shadow”. I just never paid any attention to it before! Now that I know how this direction finder works, it should reduce (but not eliminate) how my wife and I use Google Maps when we are walking around a new city!
Thanks so much!

Bob Packer
1 year ago

I just did this in my sticks and bricks and it is now spot on! Thanks!!

travelingjw
1 year ago

Thank you, we really appreciate this type of information. Traveling with phones is always a challenge.

Denise Gray
2 years ago

Thanks Chris,
We immediately went outside and did the live view calibration. My phone did it immediately. My husbands didn’t, so he rebooted the phone, then it did it immediately. So note to anyone who has an issue with the live view, reboot your phone!
Denise Gray

Ann
2 years ago

Thank you. I never knew about this. One inaccuracy in the article. This seems to also work on iPhones now.

Chris Guld
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann

That’s great news about the iPhone. What model do you have? I could not get it to work on my iPhone 7 plus.

Lisa Adcox
2 years ago

Wow,Thank you. It worked for me.

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