How to use GPS in Android apps


Global Positioning System (GPS) is a powerful technology that has become a staple in modern Android apps. With GPS, developers can integrate location-based services into their apps, making them more personalized and useful. From navigation to real-time tracking, the possibilities are endless. In this article, we will explore how to use GPS in Android apps, including the necessary code snippets and practical examples.

Getting Started with GPS in Android Apps
To use GPS in an Android app, we need to request permission from the user. This is done through the Android manifest file by adding the following code:

This permission is required for apps that need precise location information. Additionally, it is recommended to check if the user has granted the location permission before using GPS. This can be done by adding the following code in the app’s activity:

if (ContextCompat.checkSelfPermission(
!= PackageManager.PERMISSION_GRANTED) {
// Request permission
new String[]= {Manifest.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION},
Once the permission is granted, we can proceed to implement GPS functionality in our app.

Accessing Location with LocationManager
The Android framework provides the LocationManager class to access location data from the GPS or network providers. This can be done by creating an instance of the LocationManager class and calling the requestLocationUpdates() method. This method requires a provider, minimum time interval, and minimum distance change parameters. For example:

locationManager = (LocationManager) getSystemService(Context.LOCATION_SERVICE);
locationManager.requestLocationUpdates(LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER, 0, 0, this);

Here, we are using the GPS provider to receive location updates with no minimum time interval and no minimum distance change. However, this method can cause battery drain as it is continuously checking for location updates. To optimize this, we can set a minimum time interval and distance in meters to receive location updates only when there is a significant change. For example:

locationManager.requestLocationUpdates(LocationManager.GPS_PROVIDER, 1000, 10, this);

Here, we are setting a minimum time interval of 1000 milliseconds and a minimum distance change of 10 meters.

Implementing LocationListener
To receive the location updates from the LocationManager, we need to implement the LocationListener interface. This interface has four methods that need to be overridden:

• onLocationChanged(): This method is called whenever there is a location update. Here, we can access the latitude and longitude information of the current location.

• onProviderEnabled(): This method is called when the GPS provider is enabled.

• onProviderDisabled(): This method is called when the GPS provider is disabled.

• onStatusChanged(): This method is called when the status of the GPS provider changes.

These methods can be used to update the UI with the current location information, alert the user if GPS is not available, and handle any changes in the GPS provider status.

Displaying the Current Location on a Map
One of the most popular use cases of GPS in Android apps is displaying the user’s current location on a map. For this, we can use the Google Maps API, which provides a variety of features to work with maps. To use the Google Maps API, we need to get an API key from the Google Developer Console and add it to our project.

Once we have the API key, we can create a MapFragment in our activity layout and use the GoogleMap object to add a marker at the current location. For example:

mMap = googleMap;
mMap.moveCamera(CameraUpdateFactory.newLatLng(new LatLng(location.getLatitude(),
mMap.addMarker(new MarkerOptions().position(new LatLng(location.getLatitude(),
location.getLongitude())).title(“My Location”));

This will display a marker at the current location with the title “My Location”. We can also customize the marker’s appearance and add additional features like geocoding, route planning, etc., using the Google Maps API.

Real-time Location Tracking
GPS can also be used to track a person or object’s real-time location. This is useful for apps like delivery and transportation services. To implement real-time location tracking, we can use the Google Maps API with Firebase Realtime Database. Firebase Realtime Database allows real-time synchronization of data between clients, making it perfect for location tracking.

In this article, we have explored how to use GPS in Android apps, including requesting permission from the user, accessing location with LocationManager, implementing LocationListener, displaying the current location on a map, and real-time location tracking. The use of GPS in Android apps has made them more user-friendly and efficient. With the advancements in technology, GPS will continue to play a vital role in the development of Android apps in the future. As a developer, it is crucial to utilize GPS effectively to enhance the user experience and provide valuable location-based services.