Using UTM Coordinates in an Android GPS App.

What are UTM coordinates and what are they useful for? How can they be useful for entering waypoints for your Android GPS app? 

UTM stands for the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system. It is another way of specifying waypoints, in addition to longitude and latitude. 

Whether you want to use UTM coordinates depends on the source of your data. Many printed topo maps have grids in UTM. If you have a guidebook or other printed material that publishes coordinates in UTM, chances are you want to use UTM coordinates.

Why? Well, most people can't convert longitude and latitude to UTM in their head. In fact, a computer program to convert coordinates will often use several hundred lines of instructions.

Here is an example of entering coordinates in BackCountry Navigator. On the left are the coordinates in longitude and latitude. On the right is the same coordinate entered in UTM.  

Wntering waypoints on an Android PhoneEntering UTM coordinates of a waypoint in Android

This coordinate, 10 T 546542 5056337, has four parts total:

  • 10 refers to the UTM Zone, one of 60 zones on the earth.  
  • T is the latitude band. 
  • 5465422 is the EASTING value, measuring position in the horizontal direction. 
  • 5056337 is the Northing Value, measuring position in the vertical direction. 

The other reason why you would use UTM Coordinates in an Android GPS app is to be able to report your coordinates to someone else who is using UTM. Search and Rescue groups, for example, often like to use UTM Coordinates. 

When you turn on the UTM Coordinate setting in BackCountry Navigator, you will also see UTM Coordinates in the trip computer. 

UTM Coodinate setting in Android appUTM Coordinates as reported by the Android GPS.

Above, you can see that the longitude space, instead of degrees, contains a Zone, latitude band, and easting value, while the latitude space contains a northing value.

This is not all there is to learn about UTM coordinates, but hopefully this is useful to those using UTM coordinates on their Android phone.  

4 thoughts on “Using UTM Coordinates in an Android GPS App.

  1. Thanks so much for putting the time in to make this happen! I know I’ll put it to use in the SAR field!


  2. How do you enter lat/long co-ordinates to navigate to a point? Do you know by chance.

    I notice that it looks like they omit the N or S in front of the co-ordinates. That also seems to be the format for the W or E co-ordinates.

    I want to take the co-ordinates of a survey map and find the corner pegs

    I have been using lat/long to navigate airplanes around the world for years. Will the EVO 4G work in the air with GPS?



  3. Hi, I have been using my GPS in UTM mode since that is what we use in the field, but I am trying to figure out wether it is in NAD 27, NAD 83 or WGS 84. It is my first week playing around with the software. I know very little about understanding these things and perhaps there is a very easy way to figure it out, but a little help would be appreciated….


  4. this is a question that needs to be answered. giving someone coordinates based on one datum can put them off by hundreds of meters if they use these coordinates on another datum or even if plotting onto or from a map

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