Going to England...what GPS app to buy?

Discussion in 'iPad 2 Forum' started by poker, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. poker
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    poker iPF Novice

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    I have the 64GB 3G ATT version. I plan to get the international data plan for our vacation.

    I am hoping the iPad will be adequate for guiding us through England as we plan to drive from London to Bristol and all the sites in between.

    Can anyone recommend the GPS app that will hands down give us what we need?

    Thanks!
  2. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Welcome to the Forum from Scotland!!

    I have a 64GB 3G iPad1 here and the native iPad 'Maps' app works just fine here if you have 3G and an international data plan. It will give you turn-by-turn guidance as long as you have 3G coverage. In the UK, the good news is that there's virtually nowhere that 3G can't be received - thanks to (a) a historical turn-of-fate (when the very first mobile networks were set up they were obliged to provide almost universal coverage as part of the licence agreement) and (b) because there are so many operators here and competition is very fierce indeed. You might even want to opt for a pay-as-you-go SIM card bought in the UK - no credit checks or anything like that here - you just pay your money - credit card or cash (yes, US credit cards are fine!) and off you go. Typically most people opt for a fixed data volume - say, 2 GB, which has a limited lifetime of a month. If you use it all up, you can top up online (because, even though your allowance has run out, the service provider will always let you use your card to go to their website) or buy another card.

    There's almost universal WiFi now in urban areas - malls, restaurants, hotels, motels, franchises, coffee shops, airports, trains and some buses - in fact, in most urban areas it's a challenge to be able to find somewhere that you can't receive WiFi!!!

    If you want a stand-alone navigation app that doesn't rely on the ability to download maps on the move, like the iPad's app, then - in my opinion - the best one is TomTom. They do regular sat nav systems here and TomTom have an optional service that provides you with a real-time update of traffic snarl ups and gives you dynamic re-routing to avoid the jams.

    I really hope you enjoy your trip to the UK and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions and please remember to post your experiences of using your iPad overseas.

    Tim
    Scotland - where it's raining at the moment...
  3. DontUnderstandMyIpad
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    DontUnderstandMyIpad iPad Guru

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    Another useful app is Navfree GPS UK&ROI
    As the name suggests, it is free. It also has offline maps, so that you don't need any internet connection while using it. The app is not quite as good as TomTom or Navigon, but considering the 50 pounds price difference, it might be worthwhile to take a look.
  4. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Thanks, again, DontUnderstandMyIpad, a great suggestion. Free is always good!! The TomTom maps are most certainly *not* free but they were the only ones I knew anything about!

    Tim
    Scotland
  5. dp118
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    dp118 iPF Novice

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    I'm planning to take my US 3G AT&T iPad to Scotland in May and have done much research on how to get it working on the UK 3G networks and using UK mapping software. The mapping software suggestions above seem spot-on though I believe TomTom is optimized for the iPhone and not the iPad. Perhaps someone can clarify. I've also purchased UK Ordnance Survey and other maps for hiking and boating for use in the Viewranger App.

    If you use AT&T's international plan you will pay $200 for 200MB which must be used within 30 days of activation. That works out to $1.00 per MB. If you go over your purchased amount you will pay approximately $5.00 per MB. Download anything but email or web pages and you can burn through 200MB quickly. Streaming video, downloading and uploading photos, and downloading map data along with local information will likely exceed 200MB rather fast.

    Alternatively, you can purchase a UK micro-sim, swap it with your AT&T micro-sim, and use a pay-as-you-go plan. I've found it is not as easy as dropping into a store, purchasing a micro-sim for your US iPad and handing over your credit card. This process works fine for unlocked international cellphones but not for iPads. UK iPad broadband carriers I contacted (02, Orange) require a UK address to register their iPad micro-sims prior to use. They accept a USA Visa credit card for activation. They also require the iPad be connected to iTunes to register and update their cellular network settings in the iPad (I understand there may be a way around this step but didn't investigate).

    So, I purchased a UK iPad micro-sim from a UK vendor and had it sent to me in the USA. I've set it up and activated it. I'm able to purchase a small amount of data to test the process. It all works fine. Total cost so far approximately $13.00.

    Upon departure for Scotland I will reinstall the UK micro-sim and purchase 2GB (2000MB) of data for under $30.00. This is done from within the iPad settings menu using my credit card. I can use this over a thirty-day period. AT&T's cost for the same amount of data would be $2000.00 at $1.00 per MB. Absolutely mindboggling! A primary reason why most international iPad users go local.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  6. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Many thanks for the comprehensive clarification!! Tim is demoted to a sub-moderator!! (That's about as low as you can get).

    But, seriously, I really appreciate you taking the time and trouble to give us a 'first hand' account of what it's really like....I suspect, because I was an existing customer with my service provider ('3') I didn't have to go through all the 'hoops' that they put you through.

    I hope that you enjoy your trip to Scotland - I can tell you that, at this moment in time where I live (The Glens) it's misty and cold but, then, you wouldn't come to Scotland to get a sun tan.

    Have a great time.

    Tim
    Scotland
  7. dp118
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    dp118 iPF Novice

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    Thanks Tim!

    I found out the hard way while traveling in Canada that iPads are separate beasts from mobile phones when it comes to connecting on local 3G networks outside one's country. I was determined not to be surprised again. It may all still not work. There is always wifi as a back up.

    I'm hoping your weather swings towards Spring before I arrive on 8 May. We will be driving/hiking through the Highlands exploring for several days, then renting a boat to cruise the Caledonian Canal for a week. This will require some interesting clothing decisions based on your weather and boating conditions.

    I intend to let folks know how my US iPad fares in your wild and wonderful country.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  8. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    The Caledonian Canal is truly magical! It will be the experience of your life - guaranteed! We were there on vacation a couple of years ago and can't wait to go back. I truly hope you have a great time and - yes - there's even 3G coverage!

    Tim
    Scotland
  9. DontUnderstandMyIpad
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    DontUnderstandMyIpad iPad Guru

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    @dp118
    It depends on which provider you choose. With O2 and Orange, you cannot get a UK pay-as-you-go SIM. I have also tried to obtain an Orange payg-SIM, but was told that they only offer contracts. You didn't by any chance signed up for a one-month rolling contract?

    For using 3G internet in the UK, I would suggest Three (3), as TIM already mentioned. You can buy a pay-as-you-go iPad sim card in any Three store, as well as some supermarkets. A Three payg-SIM requires no set-up on your iPad and no address checking. Simply walk on store, buy one, place it in your iPad and you are ready to surf the net. They also have reasonable cost. 10£ gives 1GB, 15£ gives you 3GB, and 25£ 7GB.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  10. dp118
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    First, I apologize to the OP if it appears we've hijacked your thread. I believe getting our USA iPads to function on the UK 3G network is as important as getting good UK navigation software for our iPads.

    DontUnderstandMyIpad:

    Thanks for the additional info on the Three (3) network. I'll keep that in mind if my present setup doesn't work.

    I am able to get an 02 network pay-as-you-go plan and have activated it here in the USA. This may be the one-month rolling contract you refer to.

    Here's what I did. I purchased what my vendor described as an 02 micro-sim for an "international iPad". I have no idea how this differs from a UK 02 iPad micro-sim. It arrived in a sealed 02 package as if I had purchased in an 02 store. I installed the micro-sim and activated it on the iPad using a friend's address in the UK. Per my vendor, I changed two simple settings on the cellular network setup screen. 02 activation input screens would not accept a US address but would accept a US Visa credit card...interesting. Once activation was confirmed I was offered three pay-as-you-go plans without a contract:

    1. A day of data for approximately 2.00 pounds.
    2. A month of data for 15.00 pounds.
    3. A month of data for 30.00 pounds.

    I purchased a day of data to test the process and it worked. 02 has no signal in the US so I couldn't test actual reception. However, the iPad recognized the 02 micro-sim and attempted to lock-on providing all the correct indications.

    Like AT&T's plan here in the US, my credit card will be charged each month unless I cancel one of the thirty-day plans before I depart Scotland.

    It is a fact all this may not work once I get to Scotland. If not, I will fall back on the Three (3) network. I may purchase a Three (3) micro-sim to test it as this approach appears much easier than what I had to do.

    BTW, I started reading two history books to bolster my limited knowledge of Scotland's past. My admiration for this country and its people has skyrocketed.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
  11. poker
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    poker iPF Novice

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    Thanks for all the great info. I was about to buy a chunk of international data from AT&T but will opt for local service instead for much less. My wife has an iPhone 4 so we will probably activate her phone there as well.

    I will look in to the recommend GPS apps.

    I also installed Tapatalk to post photos on this forum of our trip with the iPad2.

    Thanks again.
  12. poker
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    I got the iPad micro sim from Three today. I paid 20£ for 3GB. It works like a charm. The salesman thought it would take a day to work but it worked seconds after installing the sim. The map on the iPad is helping us navigate as well. I actually looked for a Three store at the mall in Watford to get it. I'm glad I did. I regret getting 3GB though. I better use it in the next week.

    Thanks again for the tips everyone.
  13. dp118
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    dp118 iPF Novice

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    Thanks for your update. We're off to Scotland from the USA in two weeks and if the 02 prepaid micro-sim we purchased on eBay from a UK seller doesn't work, we'll definitely pop in a Three micro-sim. May even get one as a backup.

    Does anyone know if they offer the same thing for the iPhone 4? We have a Factory Unlocked iPhone 4 and would like to purchase a micro-sim on arrival in Edinburgh, Scotland
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  14. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    You'll have no problems in Edinburgh and your O2 pre-paid will work without a problem. There are mobile 'phone stores all over Edinburgh and the coverage there is 100%. Plus, too, there are hundreds of available WiFi networks...in fact, you'll find it difficult to find anywhere in Edinburgh where you can't receive a WiFi signal.

    I hope you enjoy yourself and have a great time.

    Tim
  15. iPad 2 is cool
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    You can download a free GPS app called NavFree UK. Slightly inaccurate for the smaller roads but very good for the major highways. It has vocal turn by turn directions also.
  16. Al Rogers
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    Al Rogers iPad Enthusiast

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    I have driven that route many times,you should not have any problems,just stay on the M-4 and it takes you to Bristol, If you are landing at Gatwick take the 25 to M-4. Having a GPS for Bristol would be nice to have, maybe our Brit members can help out.

    Al
  17. egan651
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    egan651 iPF Noob

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    Get N Drive it's cheap easy to use and very accurate
  18. iPad 2 is cool
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    I cannot find this app. Any ideas ???

    I found Navfree UK free and mostly reliable.
  19. J A Macp
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    new australian user!

    I am still awaiting delivery of the iPad 2 [3G 64] and will have 2 days to
    learn how to send e-mails and use internet before travelling to Europe for 10 weeks. I was also wondering how to get ONE sim card for use but seems that Vodafone has the cheapest [or less expensive!] option - my first
    country of arrival is Germany and the Vodafone website for that is not
    translatable to English and my limited German means I can't figure out if
    the iPad plan on offer is reasonable! I think the individual telephone carriers are worried about iPad taking over from mobile [cellular] phones with the
    VoP capacity of Facetime, Skype etc and that is why the charges are
    so high. Any comment from you iPadForumteers??

    J A Macp South Gippsland, Australia.

    how to get ONE sim card for Europe [
  20. jakerich
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    NDrive

    Google is your friend.

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