Widgets - Geolocation & GPS Location Not Fit For Purpose On Smartphones Over Cellular

  • Profile Image
    Asked on January 04, 2016 at 05:54 PM


    I've rarely used a widget that was fit for purpose when put to a stress test ... but was hoping this would not be the case for geolocation.

    Alas, after some testing with a client ... who wanted to get a geolocation reading for submissions, from respondents doing surveys on smartphones, I can conclude that the Jotform widgets: 'Geolocation' and 'GPS Location' are not fit for purpose for use on smartphones in the field.

    First off the IP address given by default on any Jotform submission ... does not give an IP address that can be geolocated ... if the submission takes place on a smartphone via cellular connection.

    So, one needs to use the Geolocation & GPS Location widgets.

    However, with both on the same test form ... they give totally different results that are long distances from each other ... and both being inaccurate.

    My client tested them via both a 3G & 4G cellular connection on a smartphone (Iphone) and the results were incorrect.

    The widgets sometimes present a message saying ... a widget.jotform.io wants to know your location .... but this is not consistent i.e each time on refresh.

    This post applies to trying to get geolocation of submissions taking place over 3G & 4G networks on smartphones ... NOT over Wifi connections.

    Hope this is of some help. 

    Any advice or anything else I could try.

    Many Thanks

    Regards Mark 

  • Profile Image
    Answered on January 04, 2016 at 10:38 PM

    Our apologies again, Mark. I have forwarded this to our Widget Team for further analysis. But what about asking users to type the address? You can use our GeoComplete widget for this: http://widgets.jotform.com/widget/geocomplete. You may want to try if you haven't done it yet. 

  • Profile Image
    Answered on January 06, 2016 at 12:33 AM

    Hey Mark,

    Both widgets use the Geolocation API. Because of privacy issues, the user has to approve its use before the location is tracked (hence the prompt). Permissions are sought once per browser session/domain session. 

    Factors affecting accuracy:

    1. If the smart 4G or 3G device has GPS (which most do - and by extension - the quality of the GPS firmware-hardware for responsiveness and accuracy)

    2. The last time the GPS was used (if the GPS is off or inaccessible, the last known location (IP Address, GSM triangulation) is served)

    These two factors will always be critical to accuracy. 

    For ultimately accurate location results from a smartphone (especially via 3G/4G), native apps are the best because they query the GPS directly for a reading - browsers (the two widgets) will not inherently query the GPS, but will get the last known location:

     - depending on personal privacy settings

     - the last time the user activated and used the GPS

     - Cell tower triangulation

     - The IP address 

    Summary: The GPS must always be on (try opening a Maps/Navigation app with the GPS activated prior to using the widget/form - this will undoubtedly increase the accuracy of the widget results). 

    This article (among others) is helpful. 

    I hope this helps - or at least opens a discussion on what we can feasibly do to improve the geolocation dependent widgets.