Google Maps My Location Not Coming To Palm OS

Google Maps Mobile Palm OSPalm OS fell another step further behind today, with the news that Google's new My Location service won't be coming on board anytime soon. Not that the Goog is to blame - apparently, poor old Garnet just doesn't have the ability. Google's Barry Schnitt has told PIC:

"The Palm OS doesn't offer the API we need to access the ID number of the cell tower the phones is associated with at a given time. Thus, we can't currently offer the My Location feature for Palm OS phones."

Google's Palm OS download page has been updated to correct the version number (from 2.0 to Announced on Wednesday, My Location is a new feature in version 2.0 of Google Maps for Mobile. It uses the signal from nearby cell towers to calculate your approximate location on the map, displayed as a blue dot.

Although this news really shouldn't come as a huge surprise to Palm users, given that Garnet is way past its use-by date, it serves as yet another reminder of the urgent need for Palm to speed up delivery of their new OS. This functionality could possibly be added via a software update from Palm, but the company's recent track record with such things doesn't inspire confidence.

Update: A commenter has noted that this problem actually isn't due to any lack of technical ability on Garnet's part, but rather a decision made at the behest of the carriers when Handspring was still producing the Treo. Every phone needs to know the cell tower IDs - they wouldn't work without it - but that information is no longer accessible to developers on Palm OS. Presumably, this means that it would be a simple matter for Palm to correct the problem, but if the carriers are involved that makes it all seem much less likely. Thanks to WareW01f for the tip.

Update 2: Palm to Support Google Maps My Location On Select Models.

Article Comments


The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Start a new Comment Down

FrankenGarnet can't handle it

Gekko @ 12/2/2007 10:01:28 PM # Q

no surprise.

RE: FrankenGarnet can't handle it
asiayeah @ 12/2/2007 11:02:15 PM # Q
That's really not good for Palm and not good for their newest model Palm Centro.

Palm Inc should be able to make this as a software update on their Palm OS, especially they now have accesses to Palm OS source codes.

As an independent Palm OS developer, I have actually tried to look for ways to get the Cell Tower ID, but failed. Now even if Google cannot ask Palm to enhance their Palm OS API, I am not sure who can. Actually this idea of getting the Cell ID for location services have long been seen in other smartphones, such as the Symbian ones.

With great power comes great responsiblity.

Reply to this comment

Bringing it up solves nothing

PhrkOnLsh @ 12/2/2007 10:10:03 PM # Q
All these sorts of postings do is make more people leave PalmOS... They do nothing to quicken Palm's pace with the new OS.

RE: Bringing it up solves nothing
SeldomVisitor @ 12/3/2007 5:43:21 AM # Q
Yes, you are quite right.

Instead of telling people:

== "It cannot be done. Period."

PIC should have said:

== "Google will be coming out with a PalmOS version as soon as they implement one"

without mentioning the PalmOS problem at all.

Yes...yes...that's what they should have done.

Uh huh.


RE: Bringing it up solves nothing
adamsmark @ 12/3/2007 1:03:53 PM # Q
Quicken the pace? What pace? Palm needs to know their old news. When the TX came out, I was willing to give them another year. What's going on?

"I believe in the atomic bomb."

Blogging at">

Palm V > Vx > Clie Peg T615C > T3 > Clie TH55 > T3 > Treo 650 > Treo 700p & T3!

RE: Bringing it up solves nothing
PhrkOnLsh @ 12/8/2007 2:32:06 AM # Q
When I see things like this it makes me think: Why the hell are you guys still here? If you are so sick and tired of Palm and so sick and tired of b*tching about them, why not go get a WinMob device?

Oh wait, that OS sucks, too.

Oh and while we're at it, why not let Palm open up the ROM flashing API so that anyone can access the OS? Why not allow for multitasking? Believe it or not, there are still people at Palm thinking. I talk to some of em on occaision.


Best Regards,
Ryan Rix
TamsPalm -- The PalmOS Blog

Reply to this comment

Where am I?

adaptes @ 12/2/2007 11:52:58 PM # Q
But it's possible to use Palm Smartphone with a BT GPS (like the Freedom GPS). I wonder why Google doesn't implement a feature like «Where am I» (see in is Google Maps for Palm. If «Carlos» can do it, surely Google should be able to incorporate a similar tool in its software!

RE: Where am I?
SeldomVisitor @ 12/3/2007 5:52:41 AM # Q
Not that long ago - on November 28th, as a matter of fact - w.r.t. =ACTUAL= GPS Google said:

== "...Does Google Maps use GPS to figure out where I am?
== It depends on your mobile provider and device. At this
== time, only Google Maps for Windows Mobile devices (2003
== Second Edition, 5.0 and above), BlackBerry 8800 and Nokia
== 95 are enabled with GPS.
== For others, Google Maps doesn’t use any GPS technology,
== even if your phone has a built-in GPS location device..."

NOW they say:

== "...Does Google Maps use GPS to figure out where I am?
== At this time, only these devices are enabled with GPS:
== * Some BlackBerry and Nokia devices
== * Windows Mobile devices with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, 5.0 and above
== * Helio devices


so one could (probably correctly) infer that Google is indeed working on getting REAL GPS from, say, bluetooth devices, to work with Google Maps for Mobile.

That is to say, there is still hope for those who think PalmOS remains a viable OS...

RE: Where am I?
BaalthazaaR @ 12/3/2007 9:38:53 AM # Q
Has anyone tried "Where am I" with the Freedom GPS?
RE: Where am I?
adaptes @ 12/3/2007 2:58:16 PM # Q
I use the version 1.4 of «Where am I?» and it's working fine with Google Maps.

RE: Where am I?
ReadOnly @ 5/1/2008 4:27:22 PM # Q
I have a VZW 755p and have used version 1.6 of WAI, and it works with GoogleMaps v1.2.0.9.

WAI is useful to get a SINGLE MANUALLY queried data point for your location.
Thus, if you are lost, this will give you your position when you manually ask for it. That would form a starting point for a GoogleMaps directions query.

I cannot figure out how to get GoogleMaps to stay updated on my position from my Freedom 2000 GPS.

What I would really want is to use GoogleMaps as a low cost GPS navigation system. It doesn't seem to me that is really asking all that much! The GPS data is available via BT, via a number of standard formats. Now we would just need Google to update GMM to handle querying for updated position info occasionally, and update the screen.

Also, I could not figure out how to avoid having to re-select this BT GPS EACH AND EVERYTIME I run WAI. It is the ONLY device paired with my 755p, and is a "trusted" device, so there isn't any opportunity for a BT conflict from multiple devices.

I did get cotoGPS to run with this setup. IT doesn't require reselecting the BT GPS device each time the app is started. And yes, the main 4 hardkeys are swallowed up by this app, even when using a key press to wake from being off. To exit cotoGPS, I had to invoke my McPhling menu via any assignment as a long press of the green key.
I am still playing with it, but I am fairly impressed with this app so far.

If Google could just get GMM do even a portion of what cotoGPS is currently doing, in combination with dynamic map presentation and/or directions, I would be Very Happy indeed.

Reply to this comment

Garnet *can* handle it...

WareW01f @ 12/3/2007 12:05:08 AM # Q
The disappearing cell tower ID on the Treo was a fun little pain in the ass for me. Anyone that remembers the Tungsten W remembers that the cell tower id was plainly visible in the diag screen and the PalmSource API gave you a nice function to get at it. They switched over to Handspring's homegrown API for the Treo 600 (more like rebranded the existing product) Access to the cell tower ID is suppressed, by request of the carriers. Palm practices its lock down of OS functions by excluding them from the 'public' header. Sad.

The carriers seem to have this 'if we can't monetize it, no one can' mentality. In my case, the irony was that I really just needed to know that the tower id was changing so I could tell that they device was in motion (and to expect the dips in the signal) To use this ID for anything LBS like you need a map of *every* cell tower and it's lat/long foot print, and even then that just gives you a general idea of where someone is, not a hard location. (Google can get at this data, or collect it by shear volume of users, my guess is that they *were* collecting it and monitoring where people where searching relative to the sent ids for sometime.) Carriers are now going so far as to *disable* gps units in phones that they carry. Google can't turn this mess around fast enough.

I long to line up and bash Garnet here, but this is more political. The fact is that this is the cell tower ID we are talking about, i.e. *every* phone *must* have access to this to function. It's just not accessible to developers.
RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
freakout @ 12/3/2007 2:55:45 AM # Q
(smacks forehead) Stupid is me. of course a phone would need to know that. Article will be updated. thanks!

Out of curiosity, what were you working on that needed access to the cell tower ID?

I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680

RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
tftp @ 12/3/2007 6:22:33 AM # Q
Palm or ACCESS should just give Google (and everybody else) the UNpublished APIs --- not like these things are going to change in the future!!!

Also, there are (or used to be) databases of tower locations on the FCC website. Many towers are registered with the FCC. Not sure if the FCC has the same identifier you'd see on a phone though.

RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
FirstFan @ 12/3/2007 8:02:13 AM # Q
I had sent the sample code that could directly use AT command to Google China stuffs. But not sure why they cannot finish that...

RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
WareW01f @ 12/3/2007 11:28:01 AM # Q
The app that I was working on had a fairly mundane need. It was a remote data syncing app that used a custom protocol (with compression and all the bling) The sales reps that used the app could not be arsed with sitting still and so they often hit the sync button, dropped the palm on the seat and drove off. The sync *had* to be fail safe and so had very rabid retry mechanism. The biggest issue though, was that if the user was standing still in bad coverage, the app would still keep trying (it couldn't know). I threw a nice big 32 value antenna bar on the main page, but if I could have seen if the cell tower was changing, as it was dipping and raising, I would have known to hold on and keep trying, if the tower ID was fixed, then I should alert the user to pay attention and find some signal.

It all seemed great on paper, and fairly easy as I was NDA with *all* parties (Palm, PalmSource, AT&T, Verizon, etc) but to try and get all 3 parties in a room to get them to get me the info (with all of the other concerns about the info 'leaking') was just too much. They really need some secret handshakes so engineers can know when they should be talking to each other and about what.

And again, the kicker was that it had *nothing* to do with LBS.
RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
WareW01f @ 12/3/2007 11:50:18 AM # Q
One other note on the technical side. If I had to hazard a guess, I would state that Google is also not using anything as sexy as looking at multiple towers signal, but instead the ID. I believe in the earlier PalmSource API you could actually get access to *all* of the visible towers and cycle through them, but even then you can't really 'triangulate' from that. Many things (hills, buildings, your car door) tend to give you a clouded view of the signal strength. You could try it, but that dot would bounce all over hell. It's most likely the foot print of the ID from a straight lookup. (My links in the telco biz do tell me that you can get a lot of the data if you try as most cells sit on leased space and the owners of the towers, of course, advertise this info)

Back in the days of the Tungsten W I hacked a little app that patched my Garmin into the serial port and tried a little war walking in my neighborhood. The app just snagged the tower, signal level, and GPS with a manual tap of a button. In a dense urban area, you can see a tower hand off every few blocks, where as on the road, you get closer to the max distance that they can get away with. The idea was that you could plot the points that you got and with enough data, pin-point the location of the tower... but again, the signal was all over the place, with enough sampling, you could swing it, but you where never going to see practical, to the block, locating. Hell in a downtown setting, you are lucky if you can lock 3 sats to get the lat/long. That being said, if you get in a dense urban setting, sometimes looking up cell ids, wifi MACs, etc, can get you a better idea than GPS (as GPS is sketchy there at best.) about where the hell you are. (The fact that my pda can see Panera *and* Starbucks could be more telling.)
RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
SeldomVisitor @ 12/3/2007 1:48:41 PM # Q
Google's Location Awareness uses a database of known cell tower locations to figure out approximately where you are. It does not use triangulation.


Google uses a lot of vacuumed-up data to do their thang - really quite fascinating to watch this all develop as we type - as someone with an "AI" background the "knowledge acquisition bottleneck" was always THE thing to stop Expert Systems in their tracks; Google has taken "knowledge acquisition" to the moon and beyond.

Way cool, IMHO, and I'm GENUINELY looking forward to seeing where they go with this.

[if I wasn't well past Google's [rumored] age-discrimination threshold I'd probably try to go work for them as well since what they're doing IS so potentially fascinating...]

RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
hkklife @ 12/3/2007 4:44:34 PM # Q
And, just out of curiosity, what IS that age threshold and HOW old are you exactly, SV?

On a semi-related note:

We haven't heard a PEEP out of Beersie lately. He hasn't updated his blog in months. Maybe he's been hired by Palm to spearhead their Plinux development push!?!

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Garnet *can* handle it...
SeldomVisitor @ 12/3/2007 5:34:35 PM # Q
"Beersie" is doing mapping stuff for Mapquest (I think that was it).

That is, he joined a dead-to-be company.

[that ougtha get a peep! Giggle]

W.r.t purported age discrimination at google:


I am well above 40 (having been an undergraduate in the earliest 70s you should have a pretty good idea of my literally-antique status...).

Reply to this comment

Google phone

bbtkd @ 12/3/2007 7:25:44 AM # Q
When Google comes out with a Linux phone, about how long do you think it will take someone to create Palm-like interfaces to the calendar, tasks, etc and offer a conduit for moving your data from your Palm/Treo? Google may even provide that right out of the box. Sure, I'd miss the games I've bought for my Palm/Treo over the years, for about a week - until I find a free/cheap improved substitute that runs natively on Linux.

This issue with cell ID is just another symptom of a company with a monopoly mentality - but guess what Palm - your days are numbered. If Palm can come out with a Linux phone before Google, they've got a slim chance to keep the sliver of their original market that would be left by then. If Palm really won't have a Linux phone before 2009, then they are screwed and they should join forces with Google - if Google even sees any benefit in that.

RE: Google phone
SeldomVisitor @ 12/3/2007 9:01:58 AM # Q
Reply to this comment

Sounds Familiar

jfme @ 12/3/2007 8:32:52 AM # Q
No native Wi-Fi, No native GPS....

Sounds like a Treo to me

Reply to this comment

GPS on cell phone

wildmantrader @ 12/3/2007 9:08:24 AM # Q
The last thing I want on my cell phone is GPS. It is in the vehicles that I own and on a screen about four times the size.
RE: GPS on cell phone
justauser @ 12/3/2007 8:37:05 PM # Q
Absolutely. You're right. 2 years ago PDAs were a good option for GPS. These days, you've got options options options - all in the car where you actually use it.

MyLocation (for me) would be a neat but not a GPS replacement. But, hey, I'm happy to type in a street name instead.

RE: GPS on cell phone
freakout @ 12/3/2007 10:48:23 PM # Q
I'm the opposite - I prefer having it on my phone to the in-car units, which have always seemed to me like a big neon sign saying "STEAL ME!" Plus, integrating it with your phone offers all the benefits of quick contact navigation, "dial your destination" etc. Also much simpler to move from car to car when necessary.
RE: GPS on cell phone
justauser @ 12/4/2007 5:27:35 AM # Q
Theft? - that's always a risk with stuff in cars. They used to say the same about tape players in cars but it never stopped me from having a nice stereo system.

I've been doing the PDA GPS thing for about 6 years. The problem is, on a decent trip you have to have your PDA plugged into the cigarette lighter which is unsightly and annoying. Also, mounts are a pain and I've often pulled the PDA out of the car when I've got tangled with the charger cable. I imagine with the phone running + ultra bright screen for daytime visibility = major battery drain.

Better having a big bright screen / rear parking monitor / GPS device mounted securely just where you want it.

As a side note - what's the deal with cigarette lighters in cars? When are the car manufactures going to give us USB ports? I've got two cigarette lighters in the front and one in the boot! It's insane.

RE: GPS on cell phone
SeldomVisitor @ 12/4/2007 5:40:52 AM # Q
> ...I've got two cigarette lighters in the front and one in the
> boot! It's insane.

I've got multiple power sockets in my Nissan van however it came with no cigarette lighters. It's not clear if the auto industry should standardize off of what they've done historically or off of a completely separate industry such as computers for power attachments - I'm not sure the car vacuum I've never used (...) would work with power off of a USB socket.


Have you seen this BMW:


RE: GPS on cell phone
justauser @ 12/5/2007 2:32:59 AM # Q
"safety features... undermined somewhat by the inevitable attempts at high-speed LAN parties in the back seat" LOL

Reply to this comment

GPS is killer

swieder @ 12/3/2007 10:25:17 AM # Q
GPS on my Treo is a killer app for me. I have a nice mount in my car. On long trips I can have Ptunes playing in the background and Telenav guiding me to my location. Both play thru my car's sound system.

I was looking forward to playing with Google Maps and the cell tower location service for times when my GPS puck is in the car.

Reply to this comment

Also not coming to PalmOS!

mikecane @ 12/3/2007 11:57:17 AM # Q
Neat things that all OTHER OSes currently have.

Yet, Coming SOON to PalmOS: Utter humilating death.

BTW: Colligan, RESIGN!!! Must you act like a tumor that refuses to die?!

Reply to this comment

TreoSpot can - why not Google?

tftp @ 12/3/2007 9:15:31 PM # Q
Treospot says it can find tower locations for GSM phones...

There is a cost - can't maintain an active data connection - but if this software really uses tower information, why can't Google???

RE: TreoSpot can - why not Google?
Gekko @ 12/3/2007 10:01:34 PM # Q

maybe this is why - same limits apply to Google Maps because of FrankenGarnet - hence, it was not a feasible feature for FrankenGarnet phones -

Limitations of TreoSpot

* TreoSpot will shutdown any active GPRS connection to query location information. This is because of limitations imposed by the Palm Treo hardware and API.
* You may find increased battery drain in your Treos. This because of the use of the serial connection to obtain location information from the radio.

RE: TreoSpot can - why not Google?
GreenHex @ 12/7/2007 12:02:22 PM # Q
I just cannot believe that Google (yes, G-o-o-g-l-e) would be faced with the same handicaps as an independent developer. The GID must be there somewhere in the phone memory. It is more likely that Google does not want to put resources for PalmOS development anymore.

- mvk

RE: TreoSpot can - why not Google?
BaalthazaaR @ 12/7/2007 12:07:10 PM # Q
It seemed rather evident that Google know that POS is not worth investing in. They still haven't added GPS support for GMM on POS.
Reply to this comment
Start a New Comment Thread Top


Register Register | Login Log in