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Why do Some GPS Devices Have Bluetooth®?

By Ken Black
Updated May 16, 2024
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While no global positioning system (GPS) device needs its Bluetooth® functions to operate, the fact that they are sometimes combined merely represents a convenience to the average user. In cases where people are driving and receiving phone calls, this represents yet another option in hands-free phone conversations. Further, the receiver can provide a number of other benefits as well.

A Bluetooth® connection can aid in receiving and making calls. The fact that most GPS receivers have a touch screen makes the answering of a call very convenient. Most devices, once the wireless connection is completed to the mobile phone, will display the incoming call on the screen. Answering it is as simple as touching the screen.

The conversation is usually held through the navigation device's internal microphone. The speaker, which usually provides driving directions, is used so that the driver can hear the caller's voice. It may be possible to attach earphones to the GPS receiver as well so that the conversation can be heard more clearly.

Most Bluetooth® GPS receivers are higher-end models. As this feature isn't considered necessary, it's usually not the first addition added. Depending on the brand, however, there are some mid-range models that include this option. Still, it usually does add to the price, and most of the things it does can be done with a simple Bluetooth® earpiece, at a much lower price.

One of the things many of these higher end receivers may offer is the opportunity to find points of interest or services along the way and call immediately. For example, a driver on the road may be looking to make hotel reservations for the night in a certain location. Some GPS units can find hotels, show their location on a map, and even provide the phone number. Often, calling the phone number with this type of device is as simple as touching it on the display screen. The GPS will then relay the call through a mobile phone.

This feature can be especially helpful or convenient, and may also offer some safety features. In fact, in some jurisdictions, it may be illegal to drive while holding a cellular phone. A GPS device that can also make calls can help provide a legal alternative in the case no other type of hands-free device is available. Also, because these units typically run off power generated by the car, there is no need to worry about the battery life.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Aug 31, 2012

@bythewell - It's a nice idea, but I think what is more likely to happen is that businesses will use that kind of thing to keep track of employees. They could make it so that they have to use internet Bluetooth with their GPS tracker, so that they can tell if they have a long break, or if they go off route.

I can also see parents using it as a way to keep track of their kids. Which is a good idea if they are taking out your car, but you don't want to tip the line into a police state.

By bythewell — On Aug 31, 2012

@Iluviaporos - You can do that with some of the car GPS devices too. It might seem like it's a bit pointless for the average car trip, but if you're going on an adventure, or on a long car trip, you might appreciate the ability to record where you went. It could be part of your virtual scrapbook for after you've finished.

Likewise, I've seen some people talking about the ability to hook your cellphone up to your GPS through Bluetooth and then have the cellphone relay the co-ordinate through to the internet so that you can let someone else know where you are. I think that might have made some family get together's more interesting, as you could tell where each person was and how far they were from arriving and know how long to keep dinner.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 30, 2012

What I like are those small gps devices you can get now that will strap onto you while you're out for a run and will track where you've gone and how fast you were going and so forth. It's actually really difficult to figure that out unless you know the exact distance of where you're running.

And with Bluetooth they can link up to your laptop so that you can download the data and put it into websites and programs that will analyze what you've been doing or whatever you want.

I know not everyone wants that kind of high tech ability, but I think it's a really great idea, since keeping track of my progress is one of the best ways I know to motivate myself and that's true of a lot of people.

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