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What's the intended purpose behind including barometers in newer phones?



Some Google employees have mentioned that it's there to improve GPS times. The devices already have a latitude+longitude estimate from cell towers and WiFi, and the barometer adds an altitude estimate.

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You would have thought that "ground level" (based on the latitude and longitude estimate) would be a pretty good starting estimate for altitude in most cases.

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In a modern urban environment I think this is becoming less and less so.

Living in a metropolitan area for me at least mean I spend quite a lot of my time in an Nth floor apartment, Mth floor office, and commute by subterranean subways and elevated train tracks, walkways and highways.

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The difference in altitude between the subway and the top floor of an apartment building isn't really very far though, when observed from a GPS satellite that's 20,000 km above you.

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