back to article No GPS in the iPad Mini Wi-Fi: People are right to criticise

Wi-Fi-only iPads have never featured GPS, but the lack of satellite-navigation tech in the new Mini fondleslab's non-cellular version has provoked a mild backlash: and rightly so, though not many people understand why. The new gizmos do have a "digital compass", a magnetometer which is aware of the direction the slab is being …

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Re: Offline mappage

"I was travelling abroad the past few weeks and found offline Google maps almost useless. You can't plot a route, which I knew, but I was also unable to even search for anything (e.g. road name, town, hotel name), even if it had been downloaded and was visible on the map, which was particularly poor."

Then you obviously don't know how to use maps troll. Plotting a route is easy, and searching involves writing the word and hitting search - if you can't manage that it isn't maps fault...

I searched for accommodation in Kwazulu-Natal last night. Could even zoom down to see the satellite image of the place.

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Re: Offline mappage

The biggest problem with offline maps in Google maps is that it periodically loses the cached data and it always seems to know the worst time to do it!

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Re: Offline mappage and google politico crappo mapo treachery, too

But doesn't Korea take all your mobile devices off you and only give them back when you leave the country???

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rvt

Re: Offline mappage and google politico crappo mapo treachery, too

I Don't have the link, but that is properly the reason why the bloke with he new IPhone 5 that went to China all of a sudden got different maps then when he was outside of the country.

When he got back home, his maps changed again.

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rvt

Re: Offline mappage

I don't agree, yes I can get GPS on my IPad2 wifi only through the tethering it over my 3gs, but really I do which they put a GPS chip in any ipad. It's useful to have, and hardly cost much more.

I do life in a country where mobile internet is expensive, and when I go on Holliday it's hard to get a sim only abbo with enough bandwidth to suppose a 'always connected' you need for navigation.

I think it's at least useful to some extend for more then 50% of all ipad users, is my best guess.

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Re: Offline mappage

Yes, and also you're limited to only a few offline regions. For heaven's sake Google, I have 16GB of storage, but you arbitrarily impose a limit on what I can store offline?!

Nokia had this working right *six years ago*. You can download countries or continents at a time, and even the entire world easily fits into storage of the average phone these days. Even when a 4GB SD card was expensive, they realised that people might find it useful to install large chunks at a time. This is the kind of thing that would be great on non-3G tablets, and it's also use for if you're roaming in another country, or somewhere with bad data connection.

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Re: Offline mappage

I agree Nokia Maps is great, though:

"Trying to navigate as a passenger is far nicer with a tablet than a smarthphone though."

Navigate as a passenger? How quaint :) There's no difference between tablets and phones if both have data connections and you're not using as a phone - but if you mean a larger screen, most phones these days seem big enough for car use these days, and wouldn't 10" be rather a bit too big to mount up on the dashboard? And for walking, far easier to put the device in a pocket, and listen to the satnav instructions on headphones. Actually having to look at a map and figure out where you're going is so 20th Century :) (As a passenger, might as well use a netbook/laptop too for a bigger screen.)

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Re: Offline mappage

Google Maps downloads much more than that limit. I've just made 67 sq miles available in one download, that covers Birmingham to Bristol UK. Sure, not perfect, but still very useful.

I'm quite surprised that there is no GPS, from a usability perspective, but not at all surprised from an Apple profits perspective.

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Anonymous Coward

Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

This caught be out with a WiFi iPad2. I was flying to Spain and hiring a car with my wife, so thought I'd get maps of Spain on the iPad, so save by not having to rent a GPS with the car. I spent most the the journey from the airport staring at the beautifully rendered map of Spain - wondering why the location was refusing to change from London Heathrow. Astonished, annoyed and bitter when I learnt that GPS was only included on the 3G model.

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Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

Did you turn on Wi-Fi?

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Facepalm

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

"it also shows that the firm has an accurate opinion of its customers' insultingly poor tech savvy"

So this applies to you then?

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Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

well....I am not sure it's Apple's responsibility to ensure you know what you are buying. The lack of a discrete GPS chip on WiFi only iPads is no secret..... Perhaps you should have done a bit of research before coming up with your grand plan, no?

It gets tiring hearing about how tech company A (B, C, G, M...whatever) is screwed up because you can't use your device to do something it isn't designed for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

Similar thing happened to me in France and there was no wifi signal.

My wife had, however, downloaded google maps on her droid and the GPS worked perfectly without 3g or WiFi. I was more than a little bit jealous and cross.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

Astonished that you hadn't thought to check what you were buying?

Annoyed that you hadn't checked what you were buying?

Bitter that you'd assumed features existed in the device you were buying when in fact they aren't advertised as such?

Okay, so I think it's a daft ommission too, but I did read the features of what I was buying! iPad stays in house, GPS not needed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

Wow it's true, Apple users really are dumb....

1st hit on Apple iPad2 Specs

https://www.apple.com/ipad/ipad-2/specs.html

Under "Location"

Wifi Model:

Wi-Fi

Digital compass

3G+WiFi Model

Wi-Fi

Digital compass

Assisted GPS

Cellular

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

@AC Wasted maps of spain

LOL!!! Sorry for your pain, but this is what you get for not doing proper research before spending your money. I guess Apple is counting on that so they can upsell you on a new shiny ipad...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

Moved to elaborate. I bought the iPad for my wife because she likes Apple stuff (where as I use a netbook running Ubuntu because I more often than not I need SSH access to stuff). I knew this about my wife before we married, but it's something I've grown to accept. The choice of WiFi or WiFi + 3G was made on the basis that she'd rarely use it away from 3G, and if needed I can tether it to a smartphone. I didn't consider GPS at all.

But I had assumed that it had GPS on it - probably because when you open maps it shows your location. Perhaps a silly assumption, but I would be hard pressed to name another tablet, or indeed smartphone, that omitted GPS.

To answer the specific points:

Astonished that Apple sold tablets without GPS.

Annoyed that I'd stupidly wasted £10 on a map of Spain that I couldn't use for the intended purpose.

Bitter that the car hire company wanted an extra £80 to include a GPS with the car, which is what caused me to look for a simple alternative.

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Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

"Bitter that you'd assumed features existed in the device you were buying when in fact they aren't advertised as such?"

Nope, bitter that they paid $370 for a device that doesn't have GPS functionality which is standard on most sub $200 chinese android tablets.

I think the issue is that the Apple device costs a lot more, so people expect that it will do everything the cheaper tablets do and more. A lot of people haven't figured out Apple's strategy of removing key features from base models to make people upgrade...

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Meh

@the_LocoCoyote Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

"It gets tiring hearing about how tech company A (B, C, G, M...whatever) is screwed up because you can't use your device to do something it isn't designed for."

...and that is the Locus of the problem I have with Apple's Philosophy: 'We didn't design it for that, so you shouldn't use it for that.'

It just seems a bit shortsighted to me that Apple can't seem to imagine why anyone would take a device without a cellular connection out of the house. Even after introducing the Personal Hotspot functionality.

Not that they're completely alone in this blindspot. Personally, I can't imagine needing a cellular radio on my tablet since I carry my phone with me everywhere but all the manufacturers and carriers keep trying to convince me I need it.

I know, I know. "There's more money in it!"

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rvt

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

That's your own fault really. I assume you also think it makes your coffee in the morning? I bit of research wouldn't help before you buy, right? Specially if you know about GPS, and why you need it.

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rvt

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

If you brought you iphone with you you could have use thethering to you ipad to get the needed GPS location.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasted £10 on maps of Spain

And what's worse, you were IN Spain!

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Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

"it'll do for working out the route from the Starbucks to the beret shop"

New keyboard and a fresh coffee...

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Anonymous Coward

Shurely..

New beret and fresh coffee?

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Plenty of times I use my Nexus7 running Google Maps, while using the wireless hotspot of a cheapo Android handset in my pocket - a great combo for infrequent use.

I can't imagine GPS support adding much more than $2 to the BoM, so in typical Apple fashion it's not because it's prohibitive, it's because to chip in £100 to get the higher-margin cellular models. it plays to the carriers, too; why have one data plan, when you can pay for two?

As with the lack of desktop widgets and low level access in iOS, they don't seemingly want to secure any power users; more the average Joes with cash to burn.

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Anonymous Coward

@DapaBlue

"Plenty of times I use my Nexus7 running Google Maps, while using the wireless hotspot of a cheapo Android handset in my pocket - a great combo for infrequent use."

I do much the same, though I recently discovered the joys of the bluetooth tethering option, too- which most decent Androids can offer. It chews a lot less power on both ends than the wifi. Works a treat on both my N7 and my iPad. Give it a go, it's really painless.

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"It's not at all accurate"

Lewis. I beg to differ.

I have posted before about the remarkable accuracy of the iPod Touch running iOS5 without any GPS.

Four years ago, my iPod could differentiate between me being on one side of a road or the other.

Particularly in the Bloomsbury-Kings Cross-Euston area of London

It also worked well in Spain also the accuracy was about 80 metres or so as apposed to the 5-15 metres I was getting in London.

Blanket statements are all very well if they are true.

Your statement isn't.

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Facepalm

Re: "It's not at all accurate"

Ivan, don't let facts confuse the issue, please! :-D

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Re: "It's not at all accurate"

"my iPod could differentiate between me being on one side of a road or the other.

Particularly in the Bloomsbury-Kings Cross-Euston area of London"

Which side of the road is the beret shop on there?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "It's not at all accurate"

Sorry, 80 metres IS not at all accurate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "It's not at all accurate"

"Sorry, 80 metres IS not at all accurate"

Well hat depends on whether you're firing an RPG or a nuke doesn't it?

I may have lost track of the conversation somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "It's not at all accurate"

Sorry, 80 metres IS not at all accurate.

Nope, not when a 20 quid bluetooth gps module can lock down to 2-3m in urban settings quickly and easily. If you need the precision, it's easy to get.

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Happy

Obligatory Scotty reference

"A digital compass? How quaint...."

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Bronze badge
FAIL

BS for need for on-line access

I have at least two Android apps which can download free OSM maps, well inside 2GB, which work fine as an accurate turn-by-turn GPS, with just a GPS sensor on, and WiFi turned off.

There is no excuse to leave a GPS sensor out of any modern tablet!

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Silver badge

Question? Can you tether a GPS receiver using bluetooth?

I tether a GPS to my old nokia as I use a version of TOM - TOM from 12 years ago.

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Question? Can you tether a GPS receiver using bluetooth?

Yes, you can, if it has Bluetooth. If it's an NMEA device, you need a little bit of free software to make it talk to most Android devices. No luck on iOS, unless you want to jailbreak it, though. There are iOS-specific receivers (the "Dual" branded one is nice) that work, though they are about five times the price for about the same functionality.

Additionally, at least on Android phones, you can run a little bit of software that serves the phone's own grappy aGPS data up as an NMEA GPS or similar over Bluetooth, so you could tether your phone's GPS to your tablet over Bluetooth (just to confuse matters).

OK, so I am oddly fascinated by this stuff, own a few GPS units, and a few iOS and Android devices, probably means I am a bit of a nerd, shame on me. Hope that helps, anyroad.

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FAIL

Yes, but with apple olny certain, much more expensive ones work. I had an older BT GPS that worked fine with older Phones/laptops etc as a serial gps sender over BT, but wont' work with an IPad or ipod touch, and assumedly with an ipad mini.

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Anonymous Coward

XGPS150

I used to use the XGPS150, with Bluetooth, on my 4th Gen iPod Touch. I used it with a Garmin app, which stored maps on board, and it used to work quite well. I have since moved to a Navigon app on my iPhone and I have not used this device since.

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Anonymous Coward

For once, Lewis is on the money

A timely rant, too.

Actually, I was shocked how good the little GPS reciever in my Nexus 7 is- way better than the slow and crummy aGPS in any phone I have owned. That said, I have a little twenty quid keyring-sized bluetooth GPS unit which I use with my phone when abroad and away from data roaming, where aGPS can be a bind, and that's just as good. However, I do like Google Maps offline on my N7 (though have a proper offline nav app on there too, and Citymaps2Go, as I am a bit OCD).

That said, there are some good BT GPS thingies that you can use with iPads too, though they are terribly overpriced, for the most part, and not pocketable and sturdy as my little keyring thingy :)

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Silver badge

Adding to the list...

My Lumia is perfectly happy navigating me around Greece, and I most certainly turn every form of data connection off when I'm abroad - with UK, Europe and ,for no other reason than "see what I can do" Texas maps loaded - I think they take up about 3 gigs of space...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Adding to the list...

Is that the Lumia with the half finnished OS that will never be updated?

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Re: Adding to the list...

That's one way you can look at it.

I prefer to say that it can do all that I want, and a lot more than I need, and it has offline gps and mapping.

Which both work, unlike some "finished" oses.

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TRT
Silver badge

And it won't even cache the WiFi location database for very long anyway thanks to all the complaints about iOS keeping a location track history forever. The complaints weren't about the fact it kept them, but the fact it kept them unencrypted.

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On all iDevices that have GPS, the GPS provided is A-GPS - Assisted GPS, using cell towers to achieve a fast lock. How do Android devices that have GPS, but not cellular, provide GPS? IE, do they include a proper A-GPS system, or is it just standard, slow to resolve, GPS?

I specifically bought the 3G ipad (original one) because it had A-GPS, and I wanted to use it as a glorified map. I think I can count on one hand the number of times that has been useful; it's completely useless abroad unless you have pre-purchased/downloaded maps of your chosen country, or are obscenely rich and just turn on roaming.

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"On all iDevices that have GPS, the GPS provided is A-GPS - Assisted GPS, using cell towers to achieve a fast lock. How do Android devices that have GPS, but not cellular, provide GPS? IE, do they include a proper A-GPS system, or is it just standard, slow to resolve, GPS?"

Actually, Tom, in no data coverage situations, a proper standard multichannel GPS receiver locks a signal a fuck of a lot faster after downloading the almanac from the sats than an aGPS unit would. I have sat around on my artse for a quarter of an hour in the middle of Helsinki waiting for my HTC Desire to lock, but my N7 gets a solid (and far more accurate) lock on the street in about 30 seconds flat.

aGPS is there to allow cheap and shitty chipsets to be used, despite being in areas with multipath issues. They aren't better, they are a fudge to allow more crappy hardware to work nicely. It's a clever hack, but I would rather have good quality "real" GPS every damn time, given a choice.

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Download maps before you go

I don't know about iOS, but for Android you can buy a satnav app like CoPilot for a few quid, which has offline mapping.

I have used this in the US several times, with mobile data turned off, and it functions OK. Didn't even occur to me that A-GPS may not work with data off - I presume it functioned OK as a standalone GPS. Maybe it took a few seconds to get a fix but provided you switch the GPS on a minute or so before you start the car you're OK (no worse than a stand-alone TomTom etc).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Download maps before you go

"I don't know about iOS, but for Android you can buy a satnav app like CoPilot for a few quid, which has offline mapping."

I tried Copilot after being screwed by Navigon (bought a new phone, they wouldn't let me transfer the license, though I should pay another 40 quid for the honour of using it on my new one, fuck them). For some reason, it calculates weirdly bad routes- a 23 mile trip to work, which is about 16 miles give or take with anyone else, whatever fast/short options are selected.. That is a hell of a difference for a cyclist :D

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Anonymous Coward

You neglect to mention that donwloading the almanac can take 15 minutes from cold start, that's assuming the satellite signal is good enough and uninterrupted for those 15 minutes or it can take a 'fuck of a lot' longer.

A-GPS in those circumstances can be very useful.

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Anonymous Coward

"You neglect to mention that donwloading the almanac can take 15 minutes from cold start, that's assuming the satellite signal is good enough and uninterrupted for those 15 minutes or it can take a 'fuck of a lot' longer."

Can it? It never ever ever ever has for me, using a 20 quid BlueNEXT BN-902MM. I must be magic. I tried it around the south of England, onna plane over the Atlantic, and also in the countryside near Roskilde, and all seemed fine.

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Silver badge

Cool story bro. Where are these "no data coverage" areas you speak of?

a proper standard multichannel GPS receiver locks a signal a fuck of a lot faster after downloading the almanac from the sats than an aGPS unit would.

Apparently it can take 12.5 minutes to download your almanac, but once it's done that, it's super fast to lock. I think I'll stick to my "fudged GPS on crappy hardware".

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