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How to boost weak Wi-Fi and GPS signals

Struggling to get online or get directions? Here's how to fix those weak connectinos

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GPS and Wi-Fi are an essential part of the Android experience. Whether you’re searching for directions on Google Maps or checking-in to a place on Facebook or Foursquare, you probably won’t notice how much you use GPS until your device is struggles to find your location.

Although problems with your device’s hardware or software can cause permanent GPS issues, the problem will usually be something that automatically resolves itself in time, for example when you move into an area that has better GPS coverage. However, this is little consolation when you’re lost and you need directions straight away.

It’s a similar story with your device’s Wi-Fi. Sometimes, you’ll know that an open network is in range, but for some reason your Android either isn’t detecting it or it’s detected the network but is refusing to connect to it. Again, most of the time this is a temporary blip and your device’s Wi-Fi will spontaneously start working again. But, what about when you urgently need internet access, for example when you’re expecting an important email?

The good news is that you don’t need to sit around and wait for Wi-Fi and GPS issues to resolve themselves. There are a lot of tricks you can try, that can force your device to actually find your current location and connect to Wi-Fi.
Here are several solutions you can try, when you encounter Wi-Fi and GPS issues.

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This tutorial first appeared in Android Magazine issue 47. Buy the issue here or subscribe to avoid missing future tutorials.


  1. Diagnose your problem

    If you’re battling with GPS issues, your first step should be checking whether the fault really lies with your device, or whether you’re just currently out of range of any satellites. GPS Essentials can check how many satellites are within range. Download it from the Google Play store, and launch the app.


  2. Search for satellites

    Tap Satellites and GPS Essentials will display all the satellites currently within range. If there are only a few satellites, or even no satellites at all, then this is most likely the cause of your GPS issues. The lack of satellites problem should resolve itself as soon as you leave your current location.


  3. Calibrate your compass

    If the problem isn’t satellite coverage, then the device’s compass may be improperly calibrated. Select the app’s Compass, tap the menu and select Calibrate. Ensure your device is on a flat surface. Then slowly rotate your device in three circle movements around the axis, pointing upwards.

     


  4. Rotate your device

    Slowly rotate the device three full circles around the axis pointing away from you. Then, rotate three full cycles around the axis pointing right. Return to the main Compass screen. Your compass should now be properly calibrated. If it isn’t, you may need to repeat the rotation process to get it to work.

     


  5. Get GPS Status & Toolbox

    It’s possible for your device to get stuck on certain satellites, even if they’re not within range. If you suspect this has happened, you can resolve the problem by clearing your device’s GPS data, using the the GPS Status & Toolbox app. Download it from the Play store and launch it to solve this.


  6. Clear GPS data

    Tap the screen to open up the toolbar. Tap the wrench icon and select ‘Manage A-GPS state’, then tap Reset. Repeat this process, but this time select Download instead. The app will then start downloading
    GPS data from the internet, and should pinpoint your position within the next few minutes.


  7. Reset your Wi-Fi network

    If you’re experiencing problems with your Wi-Fi, try rebooting your router. Also try resetting your connection by navigating to the Wi-Fi menu, tapping the network you’re having problems with and selecting Forget. Then try reconnecting to this network by tapping it.


  8. Wi-Fi frequency band settings

    If you have a dual-band router, the problem could be that your device is only using the 2.4GHz band. Check this by opening your Settings, selecting Wi-Fi and tapping the menu icon. Select Advanced and check your ‘Wi-Fi frequency band’ settings.


  9. Avoid poor connections

    It could also be that only weak networks are currently available, and your device is set up to ignore poor connections. If you think that might be the issue, then open Settings>Wi-Fi>Advanced. Check whether you have ‘Avoid poor connections’ selected.


  10. Date and time

    If there are discrepancies between the date and time settings on your device, and your router, this can cause connection issues. Ensure your settings are correct by opening Settings, selecting ‘Date and Time’ and ensuring that both ‘Automatic date & time’ and ‘Automatic time zone’ are selected.

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