All iPads Why is GPS only in iPads w cellular data?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by laser310, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #1
    Can somebody tell me why apple doesn't put a GPS in the iPod Touch, or the non-cellular iPads?

    It seems like they are missing a big market segment - people without smart phones that want good mapping and location-based apps.

    It can't cost anything to add, and in any case, they would make it back, and more, by selling more location-based apps.
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    ChrisTX

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    #2
    Without usable data on the road what's the point? Sure Google Maps was/is fun at home, but none of the mapping, or location based products work without data. Makes no sense really.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #3

    You are entirely wrong

    Many many navigation apps are _designed_ for use where there is no data...

    In the wilderness..., in the middle of the ocean...

    These apps store the marine charts and topo maps on the device, so there is no need for data.

    MotionX is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, selling navigation apps, and you don't need data to use it.

    Also, there is now WiFi nearly everywhere in some cities.
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    Southernboyj

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Location:
    Mobile, AL
    #4
    Same reason they took the ambient light sensor off the iPod Touch.. they want bigger margins. Even though these components cost less than $1.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #5
    The GPS receiver is integrated into the cellular radio. The GPS and cellular functions operate separately. Location services turns the GPS receiver on and off. If satellite reception is not available, the location services defaults to wifi.

    If you don't want to continuously use cellular data to update map data as you travel, you can puchase stand alone GPS apps such as Navigon or Garmin.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #6
    That doesn't really answer my question...

    Assuming you are correct, it's only that way because they designed it that way.

    I have half a dozen handheld Garmins and none of them have a cellular radio.

    If apple wanted all iPads, and iPod Touch's to have GPS, they would have them.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #7
    I have MotionX HD, and MotionX requires a data connection, wifi or cellular, to update maps. The app is only 33MB in size. I also have Navigon for off line navigation. You download the databases you need by state, as they are so large. It would take several hundred MB of downloaded data to cover the entire US.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #8
    Several hundred MB is hardly an issue anymore, and in any case not many people would want the whole USA.

    The point is, the apps function perfectly well without data, just like my Garmin handhelds don't need a data source.

    Take a look at apps like iNavX, or Navionics - both are for navigation on the high seas. The developers are certainly not thinking that users have a cell signal. Sailors navigate across the Atlantic with these apps.

    Philipe Kahn, the developer of a MotionX is a sailor, and he has written articles in sailing magazines in which he describes using Motion X for the TransPac (trans pacific) race.

    In any case, there are plenty of people who want a navigation device for hiking or boating where there are no cell towers.

    I don't understand why apple doesn't want them to consider buying an iPad, or iPod Touch, instead of a Garmin or Magellan GPS.

    Same with in car navigation.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #9
    The Garmin etc are true GPS devices with multi satellite receivers. The iPad GPS is piggybacked onto the cellular chip. It doesn't use cellular data, but does use a combination of satellite and cellular tower signals for positioning. It also uses the cellular antennas for GPS. I suppose Apple could use stand alone GPS receiver chips but the cost with antennas would probably approach that of the cellular chips.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    #10
    Its purely because of price. Why else? If they make an additional $130 for the cellular version, why not throw in a $.50 GPS receiver? Well that, and its integrated into the modem of the iPad cellular. You don't see an iPod touch with GPS, now do you?
     
  11. macrumors G3

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #11
    Because GPS is built into the same chip that handles the Cellular radios.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #12
    Only because apple designed it that way.

    GPS chips are not expensive
     
  13. macrumors G3

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #13
    Yea, apple designs the standard industry wide Broadcomm and Qualcomm chips :rolleyes:

    No they're not expensive, but they take up alot of room if its not integrated into already existing chip or SoC. After that you have to find the extra space on the motherboard and then deal with the fact that you just killed battery life by not having the GPS integrated.

    But hey, it sounds like you really know alot about this kind of thing.
     
  14. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2012
    #14
    This is where they dropped the ball. They were lauding their maps and showing how great the turn-by-turn was. You would think the next step would be to have a device that a map would look perfect on.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    #15
    If you only want position, speed, and direction, which is fine for navigation, in combination with charts, MotionX will be fine. If you want surface map data, such as with Google maps, then you need a wifi or cellular connection.
     
  16. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #16
    iPads and iPhones now have GPS receivers that receive signals from both the American satellite navigation system - commonly called GPS, and the Russian GLONASS system.

    So, they are pretty capable receivers.

    Your response makes it seem as if the iPhone and iPad GPS receivers don't work well when there is not a cell signal present.

    As I'm sure you know, this is hardly the case. They work perfectly fine when there is no cell signal. People use them every day in the wilderness and at sea.

    How expensive would it be to just include the combined cell/GPS chip and disable the cell part of it in non cellular devices?

    Some of the navigation apps are pretty expensive, and Apple would conceivably make the money back from their cut of the app sales.

    iNavX for example is $50 in the app store.

    ----------

    again..., there are _many_ apps that store the maps and charts locally on the device. MotionX is not the only one.

    I own quite a few of them.

    I have hundreds of dollars invested in navigation apps and the charts that i had to buy for the apps.

    I'm pretty familiar with what's out there.
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2012
    #17
    When you say surface map detail what are you referring to? Oncoming streets/roads? Or points of interest?

    I had an HTC flyer w/ GPS (wifi) and I DL copilot and the appropriate maps. I could be in the middle of nowhere w/ zero wifi or cell service, but as long as I had a satellite connection, the thing worked great.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #18
    again..., there are _many_ apps that store the maps and charts locally on the device. MotionX is not the only one.

    I own quite a few of them.

    I have hundreds of dollars invested in navigation apps and the charts that i had to buy for the apps.

    I'm pretty familiar with what's out there.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    #19
    It costs less than $2 for a commercial off the shelf standalone GPS chip in the size required for a mobile device. They already use the wifi antenna on the 3G/4g model, so no need for new one there. There is space because it the Cellular baseband modem is not in the device.

    Apple simply doesn't include it because they need more than 3G/4G to differentiate the models.

    The baseband radio in iphone4s/iPhone 5 costs roughly $40 per chip.
     
  20. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2011
    #20
    Yes but your Garmin is twice the size of an IPod and it only does ONE thing.
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    #21
    This is incorrect. I don't know who started this misinformation. But it probably originated because the cellular iOS devices are the only one you can get GPS with.

    To dispel this myth, all we need to do is look at the the iFixit teardowns. I can remember for sure the cellular iPad, iPad2, and iPhone 4 have dedicated GPS chips. Furthermore if you look at the data sheet for the radios, none of them have GPS capabilities.

    I believe now the GPS functionality is built into the SoC for the iPad3 and iPhone5 since there isn't mention of a discrete GPS chip in their teardowns and the spec sheets for the radios still have no mention of GPS.

    So it seems the A5, A5X, A6, A6X probably have GPS functionality that is disabled in software (and probably not very useful even if turned on, since there is no antenna for them)
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    #22
    Well not exactly. Yes the GSm only iPhone 4 and older iPhone and iPad 1, and iPad 2 gsm had standalone receivers. But those were all wired and controlled by baseband processor which was the heart of the cellular radio. Those standalone GPS receivers still need a processor which is where the baseband processor comes in. If you look at the specs for those basband processors you see they have pin out to GPs processor. If you need more proof search for the threads of folks flashing baseband firmware and losing GPS capability.

    After iPhone 4 apple switched away from Infineon baseband processors to Qualcomm which have integrated GPS receivers. iPhone 4 CDMA and iDevices afterwards use Qualcomm.

    So on iPad 1 and ipad2 the GPS reciever is part of the communication board (all of the "radio" parts) controlled by the baseband processor. That board is missing from wifi only models.

    The baseband chip with integrated GPS is missing from wifi only iPad 3's.
     
  23. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2010
    #23
    I see, I guess my assumptions that Apple would use the Application Processor to drive the GPS chip instead of the Baseband processor was wrong. I think they are missing out on a larger share of the "use your tablet as a GPS device" market than they think.

    Almost every tablet-owning consumer I have talked to ranked GPS as one of their top most essential functions driving the purchase of their device but most are not willing to pay the $100-$200 premium to go to an iOS device, even if they feel the iOS device is superior in most other respects.
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    #24
    I agree with you whole heartedly. A single GPS reciever/processor is $2. They have room to put it on the logic board.

    I feel this is part of that apple tax though. It's a solid differentiator between models. $130 extra if you want gps, whether or not you need cellular.
     
  25. macrumors demi-god

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #25
    The GPS lack was new information to me

    I have the iPad2 with Wifi & cellular and decided to get the mini WIFI only because I rarely use the data with the iPad 2 and decided I'd save the $130. It never occurred to me that the GPS chip was missing. I have Navigon and thought that it might be useful (or cool) to get a mount for the mini and use if for a GPS. Now, this isn't really necessary as that 's what my iPhone 4S does very nicely BUT it's not having the option that bothers me. Now I'm wondering if I should exchange the mini for the cellular version when I get it. Very frustrating.
     

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