Some Android Phones Will Soon Have Insanely Accurate Location Tracking

The ability of smartphones to get your location and provide that data to apps and services has always been controversial, at least in terms of privacy. There is no debate, however, that this kind of information is useful in many situations — in fact, it may now be critical to modern life. From navigation to deliveries, knowing the correct and precise location of people and places can sometimes be a matter of life or death, and that isn't an exaggeration.

Location services, however, are far from accurate all the time, especially when indoor navigation is involved. Even when outdoors, there is still a need for better location tracking than what we have now. That is why Qualcomm and Trimble are bringing their partnership to premium Android phones: to help ensure your car is in the right lane and that your groceries will arrive at your doorstep, not your neighbor's.

Accurate down to three feet

Sometimes a smartphone's location tracking can fail its user during critical moments due to a lack of signal or, at times, by getting the user's location wrong. Even when GPS is accurate, most location tracking systems are off by more than a few feet. Additional data is needed to improve upon that, which is where Trimble comes in.

Trimble RTX (not to be confused with NVIDIA's latest-gen graphics cards) offers a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) service that promises accuracy down to a single meter, which is around 3 feet. This is five times better than what we have today, according to the company, which says this kind of accuracy will soon be under your fingertips, literally. Qualcomm and Trimble are taking their relationship to the next level and, as a result, Trimble's RTX GNSS will soon be available on Android smartphones running the latest Snapdragon chips.

This isn't the first time the companies have brought their technologies together. The partnership started years ago, but it initially revolved around in-vehicle navigation with the goal of bringing high-accuracy positioning to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and self-driving cars powered by Snapdragon silicon. Now it looks like you won't need a smart car to enjoy those benefits.

Precise location matters

Improved location tracking is no joke for businesses, and it'll benefit regular consumers, too, especially those who often find themselves on the road. The integration of Trimble RTX GNSS will give manufacturers, service providers, and even app developers more accurate data to work with. In theory, this will result in more accurate pickup locations for ride-sharing services, as well as more accurate directions when navigating unfamiliar roads exactly when you need it, not after you've already passed the turnoff.

Qualcomm says Trimble RTX will be available starting in the second quarter of 2022. It will also be compatible not only with phones running on the latest Snapdragon 8 series (currently still at Gen 1) but also with last year's Snapdragon 888 platform. 

What the press release doesn't reveal, however, is whether existing phones will be able to tap into the GNSS service automatically, or if it will be made available only on new models starting from this point onward.