iPad Navigation FAQ

Hardware and software for GPS including Computers, Tablets and phones used for such. PLB and SPOT. Anything location or mapping related.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:44 pm
FAQ Updated 8August2015

New devices are introduced often and I will attempt to keep updating this accurately to the best of my knowledge.

The Terms 3G and 4G LTE refer to cellular modem equipped iPads (WiFi+Cellular models), not the generation of the iPad model itself. LTE is a 4th generation wireless data standard / type, Long-Term Evolution.

q. All iPads can run navigation software right?
a. True. However all iPads don't have GPS chipsets built-in. Only the WiFi+Cellular models (3G and 4G LTE) designated models have the appropriate GPS chip sets built in to be effective navigation tools. You can add external GPS devices to the iPad WiFi models and achieve the same results as a 3G/4G LTE GPS equipped iPad.

q. Why wouldn't I buy the cheaper iPad Wifi Model and add an external GPS unit to it?
a. That might be the way to go. New iPads at any memory configuration cost $130 more to go from a WiFi only model to a WiFi+Cellular model. A Quality External GPS unit may cost over a $100 so the actual price savings isn't much. Additionally you have to manage another device or accessory so the hassle may not be worth the savings at all.

q. I read on the internet that certain iOS navigation apps won't work on your iPad unless you have WiFi+Cellular model, is that the case?
a. While we haven't tried every app, there is no technical reason the app itself won't load on a WiFi only device. The developer has the option to restrict certain apps to certain devices should they choose. Obviously if you don't have a way of getting a GPS signal to the app via an external GPS accessory the app itself will be pretty useless.

Probably the most popular navigation app, Motion X GPS HD, will load on a Wifi only iPad and is compatible with Apple approved external GPS accessories such as the Bad Elf. However Motion X GPS DRIVE will not load on a Wifi only model. MotionX-GPS Drive HD is a network-connected solution that requires a data connection to pull maps and routing information when the route is calculated and for reroutes along your journey. You would not be able to calculate new routes (or re-route if you go off-course) without accessing a network connection. This info is officially confirmed by Motion X.

q. You have to have a data plan from the mobile carrier to use your iPad WiFi+Cellular model for navigation, don't you?
a. No. Data service is not required to use any iPad. GPS functionality is independent of data service subscriptions on an iPad. A data service is certainly handy if you are using a turn-by-turn navigation app, to share tracks and waypoints on the go, as well as downloading maps while away from Wifi. Again it's not a requirement.

q. I have an iPad WiFi+Cellular model but no SIM card. I don't want a data plan, will it still work for GPS navigation?
a. The iPad WiFi+Cellular models will allow GPS without provisioning data service. These models are the only iPads that have GPS chipsets. The benefit of active data service is the ability, obviously, to retrieve maps and other data and use A-GPS (assisted). As far as using GPS functionality without a SIM card, the iPad will complain by displaying a "No SIM" in the upper left of the status display area. Not because there is no data service but because it's expecting a SIM card in place, active or not.

q. If I don't have a data plan on my iPad WiFi+Cellular model how can I get maps for navigation?
a. There are several options in the apps you can run on your iPad that provide mapping. First there are apps that store their complete map database right in the iPad's flash memory such as ScenicMaps or Magellan Roadmate. Apps like Motion X GPS HD, GPS Kit or Gaia GPS can cache maps of your choosing via Wifi (or cellular data if you did have it). The third type of app, like Google Maps, requires a persistent data connection.

q. I hear that normal / conventional mobile and portable GPS devices are more accurate than an iPad WiFi+Cellular GPS chipset?
a. iPad WiFi+Cellular models GPS chipsets is extremely accurate, generally 10 meters and often less than 5. The accuracy is further enhanced if you do have a data plan as the iPad WiFi+Cellular models have Assisted-GPS. These units use cell tower triangulation and known WiFi base signals to decrease start times and increase positional accuracy. No consumer GPS device could claim better hardware accuracy. Software does play a role in this conversation as well. For example Motion X GPS HD for iPad utilizes the iPads built-in accelerometers and spatial gyro to further enhance positional data and movement through space. Accuracy can largely depend on the view of the sky by the device in question. GPS signals can easily be reduced or blocked if your device cannot see the sky.

q. What's this aGPS / assisted GPS feature I hear about?
a. Assisted GPS or aGPS devices use available location references from WiFi and/or cellular networks to assist the GPS chipset in it's location duties (triangulation, almanac etc). This is particularly helpful in areas that have a heavy canopy like city centers. This capability can speed up initial position lock but that's not given in all cases. This functionality does not require subscriber information (ie Data Plan) to function, only that the cellular or Wifi radio's be active.

q. How fast do iPads update/refresh position?
a. 1Hz or once per second.

q. Some conventional GPS units are offering faster refresh times greater than 1Hz, isn't that better?
a.Yes and no. If you are racing at very high speeds for example then faster refresh is desirable. At conventional road speed and in particular off road speeds 1Hz is more than sufficient. For example if you are traveling at 60MPH the iPad would update position every 88 feet. Typically you are looking ahead of the mapping to anticipate course changes and in off road scenario's you are navigating by waypoint not turn by turn so hyper fast refresh is not required.

q. How much better is the new iPad WiFi+Cellular models versus iPad 2 3G or original iPad 3G for navigation?
a. Better is all relative. The newest generation iPads have a beautiful high resolution display so everything looks better than the previous generations. That doesn't mean the original iPad and iPad 2 look terrible, but it's a difference worth noting. The newest iPad's and iPad 2 have more sophisticated spatial sensors than the original iPad so software designed for it (Motion X GPS) can account for smaller movements of the device and enhance accuracy. Both the New iPad and the iPad 2 have dual core processors making them much snappier to use as a navigation tool and in just about every other app use as well. The newer the iPad, the faster the processors and graphics processor, making it even quicker on graphics intense apps. Navigation software is actually not that graphics intense. You might think that the original iPad 3G is out of the hunt for navigation duties but in fact the original iPad 3G makes an excellent navigation platform. It's fast enough and really only lags if in direct comparison to a new generation unit.

q. How Much Memory should I get in my iPad?
a. It depends on use of course but I recommend at least 32GB model. You will want to have many non-nav apps and media in addition to caching or storing on-board maps in the unit. More is better and 16GB will fill up fast. I use 64GB models and haven't had issues with memory needs but it certainly isn't a bad idea to get 128GB model.

q. What's different in the iPad Mini, and can I use it for navigation?
a. The iPad Mini introduced October 23, 2012 is a smaller form factor of the previous/current iPad models. It most technically resembles and iPad 2 in that is has the same screen type (non-retina) but smaller at 7.9", and the same A5 main processor. As with the larger iPad models you need to use the cellular equipped models for navigation as they have the GPS chipset. The iPad Mini has the same GPS chipset as the iPhone 5 which includes Assisted GPS, GPS and GLONASS. The iPad Mini cellular chipset is the same as the iPhone 5, and it supports LTE among other data types. Yes you can use it for navigation.

q. What's different in the iPad Air, and can I use it for navigation?
a. The iPad AIR introduced October 22, 2013 is a full size form factor similar to previous/current iPad models however it is thinner and lighter (1lb.). Technically it uses all of the latest processor and memory types Apple has in the new iPad Mini with Retina Display and iPhone 5s, the same A7 main processor. As with other iPad models you need to use the cellular equipped model for navigation as they have the GPS chipset. The iPad Air has the same GPS chipset as the iPhone 5s which includes Assisted GPS, GPS and GLONASS. The iPad Air cellular chipset is the same as the iPhone 5s, and it supports LTE among other data types. Yes you can use it for navigation.

q. What's different in the iPad Retina (4th gen iPad) and can I use it for navigation?
a. The iPad Retina (4th generation) introduced October 23, 2012 is an upgrade to the iPad 3. This new model has increased processor power doubling the iPad 3 speed. As with other iPad models you need to use the cellular equipped models for navigation as they have the GPS chipset. The iPad Retina uses the same GPS chipset as the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, which includes Assisted GPS, GPS and GLONASS. The iPad Retina cellular chipset is the same as the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, it supports LTE among other data types. Yes you can use it for navigation.

q. I can't get any GPS signal on my iPad WiFi+Cellular model, what's wrong?
a. Check that the iPad location Services are turned on - in iOS 6 it's under the Privacy tab. Tap Privacy and scroll down the list of apps and make sure your GPS navigation apps are selected "on".

If you are running iOS version prior to 8.3 check that "Airplane Mode" is not activated. If it is it prevents the GPS chipset from functioning.

If the Privacy settings and "Airplane Mode" are in the correct state it can be hard to say exactly what's wrong but sometimes an app will lock up the GPS chipset. The remedy for this is a hard reboot. Press and hold down the Power and Home key for 10 seconds, the iPad will power off (black screen). Press and hold the Power key for about 3 seconds until the Apple logo appears. Wait for the iPad to fully reboot. This can take a minute or two depending on your model iPad.

q. Can I use the GPS if my Device is in "Airplane Mode"?

a. Yes, starting with iOS 8.3. Previous OS versions shut off the GPS services in "Airplane Mode".

q. Which Model iPads have GPS Chipsets (WiFi+Cellular)? Model list updated 8AUG2015 UPDATED List coming

- iPad Wi-Fi/3G/GPS (Original/1st Gen) A1337

- iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/GPS) A1396
- iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/GPS) A1397

- iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular AT&T/GPS) A1430
- iPad 3rd Gen (Wi-Fi/Cellular Verizon/GPS) A1403

- iPad 4th Gen (Wi-Fi/AT&T/GPS) A1459
- iPad 4th Gen (Wi-Fi/Verizon & Sprint/GPS) A1460

- iPad mini (Wi-Fi/AT&T/GPS - 1st Gen) A1454
- iPad mini (Wi-Fi/VZ & Sprint/GPS - 1st Gen) A1455

- iPad Air (Wi-Fi/Cellular) A1475

- iPad mini 2 (Retina/2nd Gen, Wi-Fi/Cellular) A1490

- iPad Air 2 (Wi-Fi/Cellular) A1567

- iPad mini 3 (Wi-Fi/Cellular) A1600

q. How do I find the Model Number of my iPad?
a. On the back panel of your iPad the model designation is screened onto the metal opposite the home button.

You can also use the settings panel in the OS: Settings | General | About
See the information listing, Model.



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User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 509
Joined: April 2012
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2000 Land Cruiser, 2017 Land Cruiser
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 1:09 am
Some Motion X GPS HD links that will help you:

iPad Primer - http://tlcfaq.com/main/2012/08/ipad-ove ... on-system/

How to download Maps for offline use - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzwmWR1MbuQ

Adding Custom Maps to Motion X GPS - http://tlcfaq.com/main/2013/08/motion-x-custom-maps/

iPad example install (2012) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYl9scdHhGU

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