Picapau21

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 26, 2015
460
203
Hi guys,

I’m sure this has been discussed before but I can’t seem to find the thread. I’m also aware there is an issue with GPS on watch os7 but...

How do I force the Apple Watch to use the internal GPS rather than piggy backing off the iphones GPS signal?

I’ve tried turning of workout location services in the iphone setting but that didn’t seem to work. I had HR and distance data but no map of my route.

I’ve heard that putting the phone into airplane mode or turn off the iphones bluetooth might work. Will try that out later today but neither seem to me to be an elegant solution.

Does anyone have any experience with this and any suggestions?

Thanks
 

Mercenary

macrumors 65816
Sep 17, 2012
1,193
592
If your watch is connected to your phone it will use the phone gps... always. This is to save watch battery.

so either leave the phone at home when you go out or disconnect the watch from the phone.

note however that by default the watch will still be connected to the phone in airplane mode.
 
Comment

naparra

macrumors newbie
I will try setting watch in airplane mode disabling wifi and Bluetooth. I will post here the result but no, it’s not an elegant solution.

Anyone knowing an app that can use internal GPS and avoid iPhone GPS? I have HeartWatch but I don’t know if registered data is from watch or from iPhone.

Workoutdoors app can make this?
Someone can helps?

Using iPhone 7 Plus with bad GPS signal...
 
Comment

naparra

macrumors newbie
Ok, turning airplane mode on. (disabling WiFi and Bluetooth), on the watch, it works. I can make a workout using watch internal GPS and listening music from iPhone. But I have to remember every workout to turn on airplane mode before start and to turn of after workout. I didn’t got working any automation to make this action.

So, to avoid this kind of workarounds, for example, @cfc, apps like Workoutdoors can select wich GPS is used on a workout?

Maybe I must ask for this on Workoutdoors app thread... sorry.
 
Comment

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2012
1,306
434
Orlando
Out of curiosity, why are you attempting to force it to use the watch’s GPS? As mentioned above, it uses the phone’s gps to save power on the watch, and I haven’t done any tests, but I suspect that the phone GPS may be more accurate as well because they have more room for antennas in the phone and more power to play with. As long as you’re bringing your phone with you while you work out I don’t see a down side to using the phone GPS. And if you aren’t bringing your phone then it will fall back to the gps in the watch anyway without any weird workarounds.
 
Comment

deeddawg

macrumors G4
Jun 14, 2010
11,009
4,781
US
Out of curiosity, why are you attempting to force it to use the watch’s GPS? As mentioned above, it uses the phone’s gps to save power on the watch, and I haven’t done any tests, but I suspect that the phone GPS may be more accurate as well because they have more room for antennas in the phone and more power to play with.

In practice it isn't usually, and often is a bit less accurate.

Watch on the wrist has a clearer signal path from wherever in the sky the currently-above-the-horizon GPS satellites may be(*).

Phone, typically in a pocket or armband, has a substantial portion of the sky occluded by the wearer, whose body blocks GPS signal frequencies. Although you can get some signal bounce, that introduces inaccuracies since GPS location is figured out by time-delay of the radio signals from the different satellites.

Go for a few walks or runs with and without your phone. Compare the tracks.

Now, does it make a huge difference? Probably not. I've never seen a reason to bother switching off phone gps portion but I also very rarely take my phone on a run anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MJ22
Comment

NME42

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2019
462
163
With watchOS 6 on my AW5 cellular I had very ugly GPS tracks from time to time. Not just slight deviances, but really bizarre artifacts. See the AW5 cellular GPS accuracy thread on this. This is fixed in watchOS 7. BUT: it is not fixed in iOS 14. Whatever combination produces this outcome (network provider, a configuration setting on my iPhone or whatever), for me it is not an option to carry my iPhone with me to do the GPS job.

I suggested in the WorkoutDoors thread to raise a feature request at Apple for this.
My proposal is to have a configuration setting in the watch to enabled/disable iPhone GPS usage. Would ease things up and remove this Bluetooth/airplane mode fiddling.

#1,384
 
Comment

naparra

macrumors newbie
Out of curiosity, why are you attempting to force it to use the watch’s GPS? As mentioned above, it uses the phone’s gps to save power on the watch, and I haven’t done any tests, but I suspect that the phone GPS may be more accurate as well because they have more room for antennas in the phone and more power to play with. As long as you’re bringing your phone with you while you work out I don’t see a down side to using the phone GPS. And if you aren’t bringing your phone then it will fall back to the gps in the watch anyway without any weird workarounds.
Because my iPhone 7 Plus GPS signal is very bad. I don’t know why but comparing both GPS signal over map, recorded track with watch GPS is more accurate than iPhone. My old Polar m430 works better than iPhone, i’m using the same route in my workouts and now, the measures and GPS on map are very different because of bad GPS signal.
 
Comment

sjinsjca

macrumors 68020
Oct 30, 2008
2,224
545
OP, could Shortcuts offer an elegant way to set your Watch's bluetooth and WiFi, then launch the workout app of your choice?
 
Comment

NME42

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2019
462
163
As soon as one is using a heartrate strap instead of the optical HR, switching Bluetooth off on the watch is no solution.
 
Comment

naparra

macrumors newbie
OP, could Shortcuts offer an elegant way to set your Watch's bluetooth and WiFi, then launch the workout app of your choice?
Maybe, but the difference between this Shortcut and swipe control screen+turn on airplane mode, and start workout from watch face, is only 1 screen touch? Because of that, I was trying to launch similar shortcut with automation, but it doesn’t work because the shortcut is executed on iPhone if it’s triggered with automation. It works if I launch manually on watch, but what I said, for me is the same to launch a shortcut or turn on airplane mode and start workout...
 
Comment

cfc

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2011
1,219
803
Ok, turning airplane mode on. (disabling WiFi and Bluetooth), on the watch, it works. I can make a workout using watch internal GPS and listening music from iPhone. But I have to remember every workout to turn on airplane mode before start and to turn of after workout. I didn’t got working any automation to make this action.

So, to avoid this kind of workarounds, for example, @cfc, apps like Workoutdoors can select wich GPS is used on a workout?

Maybe I must ask for this on Workoutdoors app thread... sorry.

As far as I know it is not possible for apps to choose where the GPS comes from. This is controlled by watchOS and third party apps can't even tell where the GPS is coming from, let alone control where it comes from. I really wish that Apple would allow apps more control of this.
 
Comment

naparra

macrumors newbie
As far as I know it is not possible for apps to choose where the GPS comes from. This is controlled by watchOS and third party apps can't even tell where the GPS is coming from, let alone control where it comes from. I really wish that Apple would allow apps more control of this.
Ok, thank you very much for your reply, and congrats for your good job with the app.
Yes, I hope too that Apple gives more control to third party apps. So, until it happens, the only way to use watch GPS is to let iPhone at home or disable connection between two decices.
 
  • Like
Reactions: cfc
Comment

Nelluk

macrumors newbie
Dec 21, 2020
1
0
Ok, thank you very much for your reply, and congrats for your good job with the app.
Yes, I hope too that Apple gives more control to third party apps. So, until it happens, the only way to use watch GPS is to let iPhone at home or disable connection between two decices.
OP did you ever find a more elegant solution for this? Got here via google searches. My AW6 GPS is significantly more accurate than my iPhone X and having to toggle airplane more before and after every workout is an annoying inconvenience. That, plus nerfing the Always On display for third party apps like WorkOutDoors, is a bummer and making me consider going back to Garmin.
 
Comment

ssrobinson

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2021
3
1
My experience using AW6 and iPhone X is that by using the GPS on the iPhone it makes AW not fit for purpose as a running aid as it is too inaccurate, mostly through cutting corners. On a 10k run the AW tracked 200m short of the actual distance. I would expect it to be accurate within 20-40m. The only solution I can find is to disable Bluetooth on the AW. The GPS is then very accurate. Problem is, I also have a Stryd Power Meter which connects via Bluetooth to my AW, so I either have decent GPS or the Stryd additional running data but not both :( Apple should at least give the option to force use of AW GPS. Currently wish I had bought a Garmin watch.
 
Last edited:
Comment

ssrobinson

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2021
3
1
I guess like many runners I listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks etc whilst on long runs. My phone provides this via my AirPods.
Also I need to be contactable so I cannot turn my phone off.
I get why Apple’s approach of using the phone gps might benefit none fitness users. But because of its comparative lack of accuracy to the AW gps (and their fitness watch competitors), you’d think they’d at least make it an optional user parameter.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NME42
Comment

NME42

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2019
462
163
. But because of its comparative lack of accuracy to the AW gps (and their fitness watch competitors), you’d think they’d at least make it an optional user parameter.

Yes, 100%. Make it a system parameter or offer an API for GPS enabled apps to decide which GPS to use, internal or external.

I have sent a feature request to Apple. Please do the same. Maybe we have a slight chance they do something.

 
Last edited:
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.