iPad mini Can you use an iPad mini + LTE as an in-car GPS navigation system?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by saintforlife, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2011
    Is the GPS on the LTE enabled iPad mini comparable in Maps performance to the iPhone 5 on the road? Anybody try it? Is the mini lacking any hardware components (vs. the iPhone) that would prevent it from being used as a navigation device on the go?
  2. macrumors 601


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Best I can tell, it can be used exactly this way. It is one of the big reasons I bought one (and the LTE version instead of the wifi version, the latter of which doesn't have GPS on board). Mine just arrived so I'll be trying this shortly.

    While I'm pretty confident it will work just fine, the closely-related question I have is whether iOS6 Maps will download enough local detail to make it my local/regional turn-by-turn without having to turn on LTE data. I've seen at least one story about iOS Maps that implies it localizes a LOT of data (even beyond state lines) but I wish there was a conclusive answer. What I'd really like to be able to do is to go into Maps and check some local data boxes (XXX mile radius from home, my state, XXX miles from places I travel, that state) to download and store the maps data for offline use. However, LTE is there on demand if I couldn't find some local wifi.

    If Maps doesn't do it (without LTE being on), I'll have to pick up one of the gps maps apps that allows local storage. From reviews, it's hard to recognize one best app for this but it's good to have so many options.

    Instead of the "suction cup" bracket for the windshield, I found an A/C vent mount option for the iPad Mini. It also arrives shortly.

    I hope this part of the utility of the Mini works well. I'm also trying to make it my occasional use "iPhone" via headset with mic plus VOIP (with LTE only when I can't find wifi). If it does those two jobs well, everything else I hope I can get out of it will be gravy.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2010
    You will need to have data enabled to use apple maps.

    You can also download a third party app like Garmin that downloads maps of entire sections of the country for use off line.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    I use Navigon on the mini and my iPhone and it works great. A really great GPS app at a reasonable price.

    I've tried several navigation apps that did not localize map data, some even that seem to download data for a planned route but always come back to something like Navigon with full, localized data. Your data connection always seems to be unavailable at an inopportune moment with the others.
  5. macrumors 601


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Are you certain about this because I've seen reviews that suggest otherwise. In particular: http://appleinsider.com/articles/12...support-automatic-offline-use-for-a-wide-area and http://appleinsider.com/articles/12...support-automatic-offline-use-for-a-wide-area

    I interpret that as fire up maps while still connected to wifi and punch in a start & end point (destination) and it will download (cache) the information in between. Then I can go offline and it will work. That article implies it does much better than that: "However, Google limits this support to an area of about a 50 mile (80 km) radius. Google provides full detail for offline map regions, but the area of coverage is much less <about 50 miles radius> than Apple's iOS 6 Maps caches automatically." and "At a highway level detail, we could actually navigate most of California, and on a simplified level, the western half of the United States. There were detailed street-level maps available of areas we'd never even looked at while online, as far away as Salt Lake City, Utah (about 740 miles or 1200 km east)" If it can provide street-level detail offline of upwards of 740 miles away, that would be more than enough for my own needs in just about any scenario.

    I wish localizing a user-selected radius of data was a formal option in the program but at least those articles imply that maybe it is doing something automatically that works for a pretty good distance from current location. What I'd really love to see is an option to put in a list of spots where I'd be traveling and setting the radius of data around all of those spots where I might need some offline maps. Maybe that will arrive eventually.

    If you know different for certain, please reply.
  6. macrumors 68020

    Feb 10, 2008
    I've used MS maps app for years on my iPad 1, the biggest reason I bought it. Works great, especially the traffic feature. My failing eyesight enjoys the large screen. The map app does not do turn by turn or voice prompts, but other apps may. The mini should work better and has a nice size screen. There are a number of vehicle mount options for the iPad, I would suspect the same for the mini within a few months.
  7. macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2012
    Yes. It works perfectly. I replaced my iPhone with my iPad Mini Wifi+Cellular. It is my phone/internet/navi device now. I paired it up with a Bose Series 2 BT headset so I can hear all the directions through it & with the 7.9" screen, it makes it very convenient :)
  8. macrumors 601


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    all kinds of car mounts for mini are already on Ebay (and priced lower than I expected).

    DelMac, since you're already there (in terms of using it now), can you shed light on the question about offline iOS 6 maps use? Can you get pretty far without using cellular? Or does it need that connection in spite of what is shared in those reviews (links posted in #5 above)?

    I'm hoping I'll be able to activate LTE only rarely and instead get by on wifi most of the time. Obviously, I wouldn't have wifi when in motion, which is why I'm hoping it is as described in those reviews: punch in my destination while wifi connected, then take it with me (away from wifi, without activating LTE) and it get me from "here" to "there" much like a dedicated GPS with on-board maps.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2012
    yeah my plan is to use it as a giant GPS and was a factor in whether i'd just get a wifi version or an LTE.

    I use the IQ car mount thing for my iPhone and just installed it to my mini as well--

    i rigged something to my current car using something in one of their kits, and I bring this with me when I travel:


    the tab is not obtrusive on the back of the phone and ipad cases, and what I rigged looks much cleaner than than those gigantic pep boys car phone mounts.

    plus i can put those back-tab things on other stuff as i see fit. like now I can use the ipad as a GPS just by throwing a tab on the back of the case.
  10. macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2012
    Hey Hobe. I'm always looking up directions when I'm leaving the house so LTE is already on. I'm going to experiment with this and look up directions before I head out the house while it's still on WiFi. That article seems convincing that it should work that way. It sure would save some data usage. I'm sorry I couldn't answer your question. Hopefully later today because I'm interested too.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2011
    I have a Mini on Verizon. I use it daily as my main GPS to get me from job to job (I repair swimming pools).

    I read this thread this morning and thought I'd experiment today navigating to a couple different jobs.

    I tried this on 3 different GPS apps...Apple Maps, Waze and MotionXdrive, and they all had the same results. If I am connected to Wi-Fi or Verizons network, input the address, start navigating, then turn off cellular data, it will give me accurate turn by turn directions to my destination.

    I tried a couple different times to take another route than recommended though and found that none of the apps were able to re-route me due to a lack of a data connection. With all of them, if I strayed too far from the intended route, I would end up driving through "blank" areas...areas that didnt load when I was connected to Wi-Fi. Once I got back onto the intended route, it would pick right back up though and continue navigation.

    Another thing I found was that the GPS was very accurate with no data or wi-fi signal. It always knew EXACTLY where I was, down to a few feet.

    Bottom line is, you can load a route at home/with a cell signal, then turn off cellular data, and navigate to your intended destination.
  12. macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2012
    the screen is not really readable in direct sunlight
    I keep my mini with me all the time,but not as a gps
    I use my iphone 5 with garmin on board,no data needed. Both are with verizon 2 gb data for iphone. 5 gb ipad mini
  13. macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2011

    I can read mine just fine mounted on an arm that's just in front or my center console. Maybe you should turn your brightness up.
  14. macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2012
    That's what I thought would most likely happen but I didn't get a chance to try since I didn't go out anywhere today. Anyways, thanks for confirming. It'll definitely save me some data:)
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2011
    Great job testing this. Makes me want to get the mini with LTE now. I would consider it as buying a GPS for an extra $130. Also with AT&T's allshare plan is only $10 to add your mini to the plan.

    Does anybody know if you can add and remove devices anytime you want and just pay for that one month? Will come in handy when you are vacation and stuff. Then when you come back ome you remove the device and just use wifi. Anybody know if this is an option with AT&T?
  16. macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2012
    If your gonna go with the LTE version for the GPS function then you are better off spending the extra cash and buy a GPS app like tomtom or navigon that does not require any data/wifi signal to load the maps. That way you can go anywhere and not require any internet signal.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2011
    I want to get one of those but it seems the reviews are less than stellar
  18. macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2012
    Navigon was bought by garmin about a year ago. So if you find their maps good then that would you best option. They have different packages depending on what maps you want. Prices range from $30-$100 depending on your location. For example the US is broken up into sections, so depending on your needs it's not that expensive.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    I tried it yesterday, and yes, the GPS was very accurate, fast and smooth (even with Wi-Fi turned off).

    I think it's a great device for GPS. The screen is large, and Siri is good at giving directions (and listening to your commands).

    It also used very little data after 20 mins (less than 1 MB), so that was impressive.

    Overall, I'd give it a thumbs up.
  20. macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    I have the TomTom app for my iPhone, and it is terrific. I think it would be great on the iPad mini as well.
  21. takeshi74, Dec 2, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012

    macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    The both have GPS receivers so yes.

    Subjective matter. Many are happy with nav apps that require data. I personally prefer locally stored map data but this isn't a universal matter. Each person needs to decide.

    Should be expected. The GPS receiver doesn't need data or WiFi to determine your location. Otherwise the standalone GPS units would be worthless.

    Always consider the source. I have both and have no complaints with either app.
  22. macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2012
    Takshi74 like you I am of the option it's better to have the maps on board just incase you drive somewhere data coverage is sparce
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2008
    You guys are making me want to get the mini now 32 gig.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2008
    GPS maps

    I just purchased an Ipad mini with Cellular/GPS chip, (won't connect to Verizon cellular until I take a long road trip next month). I downloaded Co-Pilot maps for U.S. (Free) and have tried Co-Pilot GPS locally a couple of times. It seem to work fine using the downloaded maps and not connected to WiFi or cellular.

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