iPad Mini - GPS chip?

Discussion in 'iPad Mini Forum' started by Icarus, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. Icarus

    Icarus
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    I've started to use an iPad mini WiFi / Cellular (Model No. MD542B/A, with 7.0.4 o/s) in the UK.

    It will mostly be used out-of-range of WiFi, 3G and 4G for navigation purposes. My simple question is whether this model has a genuine GPS chip to achieve a reasonably accurate position display when WiFi/3G/4G are not available? Queries to Apple Tech produce a range of answers including support technicians who are surprised to hear that GPS (not assisted GPS) uses position information from satellites.

    The supplier insists that it's only capable of assisted GPS operation. One forum reports it has GPS but only uses the GLONASS cluster. I'd appreciate knowing the definitive answer.

    Thank you.
     
    #1 Icarus, Dec 24, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2013
  2. scifan57

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    Your iPad is fully capable of GPS navigation when out of range of cellular coverage. If you have one of the many GPS navigation apps installed which has downloadable maps for offline use you can check it out for yourself by turning off cellular data. This will give the same effect as if you were out of range of a cellular signal. My iPad, which doesn't even have a SIM card installed works perfectly to fix my position when I use the Navigon app, one of many available GPS navigation apps.
     
  3. twerppoet

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    A few additional details on the subject.

    Pretty much every GPS receiver out there these days uses some sort of Assisted GPS technology.

    Assisted GPS covers a variety of services, but in the end all they do is assist the basic GPS to find it's location faster and a bit more accurately. It still requires a fully functional GPS receiver.

    So, in the conditions you specify you can expect some degradation in accuracy and the iPad may take longer to get a location lock; but it should still work.

    Check out Apple's page on Understanding Location Services for specifics.

    You can also check out Wikipedias Assisted GPS page for a more general understanding of what kinds of enhancements of GPS fall under this label. Apple uses some, but not all of the mentioned technologies.
     
  4. Icarus

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    Thanks, guys - much appreciated.

    I hadn't realised that Assisted GPS made the 'genuine' GPS more accurate - I can see it might help with finding a position quicker.

    My intention was to use it in a light sport aircraft for back-up navigation, and normally out-of-range of both WiFi and Cellular, so purely dependent on GPS data. What concerns me is whether the iPad Mini's internal GPS is going to enjoy line-of-sight with satellites, and that depends, of course, on position in the aircraft's cockpit. In the past I've used an external GPS (i.e. Garmin GLO) which used Bluetooth to connect to an iPad which was WiFi only. One could position the Garmin for optimum reception, of course. It worked fine. I switched to the Mini due to a more practical size.

    This leads to me asking whether my iPad Mini (see above) with GPS, could work in conjunction with the Garmin GLO using Bluetooth. Would the GPS data 'mix' OK, would the iPad Mini take the strongest 'signal', would there be a possibility of errors developing with clashing data inputs?

    I look forward to hearing your opinions.
     
  5. twerppoet

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    For the Garmin and iPad Mini to work the app it self would need to have a bluetooth pairing feature. You won't be able to use the system's bluetooth to pair with the Garmin. Even if the devices paired, it is unlikely that the location data would automatically be sent to the navigation app. {I'm not 100% sure about this, so you might find out different if/when you ask fellow iPad owning pilots}

    So, check with the developer's of any nav app you're thinking of using and ask first. If they don't have that ability, they may consider adding it. Especially for apps specializing what you are trying to do. It can't be the first time it's come up.


    As for how well the built in GPS will work, just too many variables. I know some people use their iPads in the cockpit, but I don't know how many use them for the GPS feature, and of course the materials and configuration of the cockpit is going to make a difference. I can say that my iPad 3 does a decent job of keeping lock inside my pickup, but it has the advantage of having a cellular connection most of the time.

    The only way to tell for sure is going to be to use it. I'm sure it won't be your only navigation tool, so use it as a secondary device for a while until you feel confident that it does the job. If it does not, then you can either try the external GPS route or relegate it to secondary jobs like flight planning and airport maps.

    Bad Elf makes a GPS peripheral that plugs into the iPad's lightning port. It's mostly for non-cellular models, but might have better receptions. Again, you would need to check and see if the apps you want would support it; but it is a third option for you to look into.

    Good luck.
     
    #5 twerppoet, Dec 25, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2013
  6. Icarus

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    Many thanks for your reply. I checked with the developer of the aviation app that we are using, and they answered that if the external GPS is connected either by Bluetooth, or via the lightning port, then the external GPS data overrides the internal GPS.
     
  7. twerppoet

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    Nice. Thanks for letting us know.
     

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