What are the Different Types of GPS Tracking Software?

V. Saxena

Global positioning system (GPS) software works with GPS hardware to deliver real-time data concerning the location of individuals and vehicles. In particular, GPS tracking software works with either a hardwired GPS tracking device, such as one built into a car, or a portable one that can be conveniently carried to different locations. The different types of GPS software relate directly to the type of hardware to which they are tied.

GPS can be used to locate a missing phone.
GPS can be used to locate a missing phone.

Vehicle-grade software uses a GPS satellite to provide drivers with up-to-date navigation information. Not only can they track the location of the vehicle, but they can look ahead based on a chosen destination and pinpoint the shortest or most convenient route. Such GPS tracking software typically comes with millions of preloaded points of interest (POI), identifying important stops along the way including gas stations and grocery stores.

Many cars today come with GPS already installed.
Many cars today come with GPS already installed.

Mobile phone tracking GPS software relies on either GPS or Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular technology to track the location of a mobile phone. GSM is less precise and uses the strength of the roaming signal to triangulate the phone’s location based on its distance to nearby cellular towers. If the phone features integrated GPS, however, then the phone taps into a GPS satellite to obtain exact latitude and longitude coordinates.

Not all GPS tracking software is built for the same purpose. A GPS logger, for instance, is a type of GPS software that continually records a vehicle or shipment’s location. Business owners or police officers can later upload the information to a computer for analysis, such as in the case of an FBI agent tracking a suspect. Such systems are considered passive.

A personal GPS tracker is designed for tracking people. Built primarily for safety purposes, these small and portable devices can be carried around or clipped to a tie or belt. Their purpose is to maintain an easily accessible track of an individual’s movement at all time. Such devices also typically include an emergency button that alerts police officials to an impending threat or emergency.

The most common type of GPS tracking software is a real-time GPS tracker. This is the type frequently seen in mobile phones and vehicles. They rely on a GPS satellite to continuously transmit data to a server. The benefit of such software is that, in case of an emergency, the authorities can obtain immediate data on the individual’s location. This is the most expensive and sophisticated type of GPS tracking software.

A GPS device may be installed inside of the car of a teen driver to help her navigate the roadways.
A GPS device may be installed inside of the car of a teen driver to help her navigate the roadways.

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Discussion Comments


I work for a large company that uses a good number of vehicles on a daily basis. We use a GPS tracking system for our fleet of cars and trucks. From a business standpoint, there are many advantages to using fleet tracking.

Our management team is able to use this as a tool to increase productivity, keep a handle on employee fuel costs, track hours to easily compare time reported to actual drive time, and very importantly, increase the safety and security of our staff and vehicles. I think GPS tracking is a great tool for any business dealing with fleet.


As the parent of a teenage driver, I use a GPS vehicle tracker. I am not trying to be an overbearing mom, but if there are steps I can take to help keep my child safe, I am all for it. I don’t use it to check locations to see if my son is lying about where he goes.

I basically like having it in case there is ever an emergency or something goes wrong on his end. It is a big world out there, and any advantage in safety is worth checking out. We live in a big city. If my son ever runs in to trouble, the vehicle tracker makes it that much easier for me to help.


You can get free GPS tracking. Most of the free programs are designed to be used on a cell phone. Of course, not all the programs work on every model. The free programs should provide you with information on which phones are compatible.

I have only used the program that comes with my phone. But, some of the free programs available are Instamapper, 3dtracking, and LiveTracker. LiveTracker is designed for the Blackberry.

The only time I have used the GPS on my phone is for travel. If I didn’t have it already, I would be sure to check out some of the free programs. I would try to find a good one that I did not have to pay for.

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