Airplane mode GPS now useable?

Discussion in 'iOS 8' started by Richdmoore, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #1
    Has iOS 8.3 changed airplane mode into keeping the GPS receiver active in airplane mode?

    I put my iPhone & iPad into airplane mode, and turned off both the wifi and Bluetooth. I then went into my navigon GPS app (which uses an internal map database) and it appears to be able to navigate, without GPS warnings and showing 16' or 32' accuracy on the status page

    (Wifi only positioning is way less accurate than 16' I believe, and with the wifi off it should not be able to use wifi trangulation anyway.)

    Is this an undocumented change? Could anyone else running 8.3 confirm they can use the GPS in airplane mode as well?
     
  2. Richdmoore thread starter macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    #2
    I have been playing with my iPad and iPhone more (both on 8.3) and it looks like all apps (except the apple maps app) are able to access the GPS even when in airplane mode with wifi & bluetooth both off.

    Of course, if the iphone/ipad internal gps doesn't have a fairly current satellite position, it will take a long time to find the gps satellites.

    Is anyone else able to confirm this?

    I did the following:

    With airplane mode off, I went into any gps app and obtained a GPS lock. The GPS app I used showed a 16' resolution. (This step is to preload the internal GPS with a recent sat positions.)

    I then went to the home page, and turned on airplane mode, checking to see that WiFi & bluetooth are both off.

    I then went back to any gps app (except apple maps) and saw that I am still getting valid gps nav (16' resolution reported.)

    I tested this with Wing X, Navigon, & Basic GPS (I did need to cycle basic GPS on and off once.)
     
  3. Jimmy James macrumors 68040

    Jimmy James

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    Oct 26, 2008
    #3
    This would be great. I primarily use GPS while out of service areas and I would love to avoid the extra battery drain of signal searching.
     
  4. Richdmoore thread starter macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    Location:
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    #4
    If you wouldn't mind could you run some tests to confirm the change in behavior I am seeing? (I think Apple maps is hard coded to not work without at least wifi on, so use another app).

    With cell and wifi on, go into a GPS app and get a GPS position. (This is to preload the iPhone with a good satellite location info to reduce the lock time.)

    Exit to the home page and quit that app.

    Go into settings, turn on airplane mode, ensure wifi & Bluetooth is off.

    Go into any GPS program except Apple maps. See if you can get a good position lock.

    I used the wing x app to see the reported position accuracy, (there are a lot of other GPS apps that will report this as well) the position accuracy was between 16 & 32' (5m to 10m) which indicates a GPS lock vs some other method.

    There is a free app called GPS data that you can use for the accuracy information as well.

    Let me know if you are seeing the same thing. I am on both an iPhone 5s & an iPad Air 2 (cell model of course).
     
  5. KALLT, Apr 12, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015

    KALLT macrumors 601

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    Sep 23, 2008
    #5
    Airplane mode should automatically disable cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. I always presumed that it would turn off GPS as well, since the point of airplane mode is to reduce the emission of signals that can potentially interfere with on-board instruments. It would surprise me if that were not true.

    Edit: have you tested your GPS position in a field-test? Perhaps the location data isn’t actually current, but based on your last GPS fix and/or the data isn’t entirely GPS-based (the iPhone uses gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer and on the iPhone 6 also a barometer). The location APIs might return an approximate location based on all these data points. That’s an assumption on my part, you’d have to verify this in a field-test.
     
  6. saudor macrumors 6502

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    Jul 18, 2011
    #6
    GPS doesnt send out any signals though right? I thought all it does is receive input from satellites and run some complex calculations
     
  7. KALLT macrumors 601

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    Sep 23, 2008
    #7
    Regardless, Apple claims that it’s disabled:
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204234
     
  8. Richdmoore thread starter macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #8
    I think there has been a change from iOS 8.2 to iOS 8.3. I just got back from a test using my iPhone 5S on 8.3.

    First I entered airplane mode. I then verified that both wifi & Bluetooth were off. (True, airplane mode does this automatically, but I wanted to verify that they were off in the settings just to make sure.)

    I then took 2 round trips to/from my apartment to the trash can area (50' or so.). I then walked to my car and started the Navigon North America App.

    I had it navigate and drove to a local Target store 4 miles away. It worked with no issues. The GPS page showed 16' accuracy.

    After that I entered the store and shopped for 45 minutes. I then exited, and had the navigon app navigate me home. It was still flawless, and kept 16' accuracy on the GPS page.

    After this trip, i finally removed airplane mode (wifi & Bluetooth came on when airplane mode was disabled.)

    I think it is pretty conclusive that the GPS is remaining on despite being in airplane mode. It was not just using a last known position, as I was able to navigate with accuracy. Using steps, accelerometers, magnetic compass, or other internal methods would have quickly degraded my position. Wifi, Bluetooth, and cellular triangulation were not available, and they are not accurate enough to keep a 16' (5m) position. I am positive that GPS was keeping my position accurate.


    I believe that some android phones keep GPS locations active for their version of airplane mode. GPS is a receive only system for the end user. so having it active would not violate any transmission restrictions on the airlines.

    Based on my tests, I believe that the support link above is outdated, as I think this change occurred with the very recent release of 8.3. Still, if others could verify this behavior it could be added to the list of undocumented changes in iOS 8.3.
     
  9. MWB1124 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2014
    #9
    Yep, GPS works for me in airplane mode. This is how it should be, since the device is simply receiving signals from the GPS satellites. The tin foil crowd may be upset, however.

    I keep my phone on airplane mode when outside of cell range, but I still want geotagging on photos. This allows me to leave airplane mode enabled and still get GPS data.
     
  10. cRuNcHiE macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 2, 2007
    #10
    GPS has worked in airplane mode for about a year as my iPad mini 2 in airplane mode could use the GPS in April 2014 when i last flew.

    Was fun to see Sygic say we were travelling at 400mph
     
  11. Zxxv Suspended

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    Nov 13, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    so all iPhones are logging position using gps when in aeroplane mode?

    or only when a certain app is open?
     
  12. nebo1ss, Apr 19, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015

    nebo1ss macrumors 68030

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    #12
    Interesting but it does work. I launched Motion X gps and waited until I acquired a signal and then switched phone to Airplane mode. I lost the GPS signal and got an alert come up that said switch off airplane mode to USE GPS.

    However, within about five seconds the GPS signal came back on the Motion X navigation and the phone was still in airplane mode.

    This is going to be useful because I have an old 4S that I use as a Bike computer with a GPS app it has no SIM card and I can now leave it in airplane mode to save battery.

    There is one slight issue in that the phone is assisted GPS and will take longer to acquire the GPS signal.
     
  13. MattZani macrumors 68030

    MattZani

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    UK
    #13
    Quick test says it works for me. Will be useful if I have low battery and need to get somewhere.
     
  14. numberfour macrumors regular

    numberfour

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    Jan 27, 2015
    #14
    This worked in 8.0, 8.1 and 8.2 as well. I flew a lot last year and on numerous occasions I saw the gps indicator active while in flight mode.
     
  15. Imory macrumors 6502a

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    Wonderland
    #15
    Are you sure it still geotags photos? I guess the reason I didn't have any GPS data was because the camera app didn't have access to location services, which you need to enable.
     
  16. MWB1124 macrumors newbie

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    Sep 28, 2014
    #16
    Yeah, I just took a photo in airplane mode and it was geotagged. It won't show a location name until you connect to the Internet, but you can see it on the map immediately.
     
  17. niji macrumors 6502a

    niji

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    Location:
    tokyo
    #17
    hi

    not exactly the same circumstances, but interesting as well:

    my iPhone 5 and I were sitting outside a Starbucks in northern Phoenix, AZ with wifi and cellular both on. my battery was only about 5% left. I looked up the place I needed to get to in google maps and started navigation. i got into my car. i had a T-Mobile SIM in the phone.

    the destination was about 7 miles away. the wifi signal naturally was good until i got the car out of the drive way area. but my cell reception also lost all dots that indicate it was receiving any signal. and eventually it said No Service.

    to my surprise, the google map navigation app continued to give turn by turn directions even though there was no wifi or cellular service.

    this was before 8.3 was released.

    something similar happened before in China a few years back. my phone could only receive a 2G signal in China at that time (my phone was not able to receive a 3G signal at that time). i could follow my location on my phone using google maps. i thought at the time that the reason had to do with my phone able to get a GPRS signal (GPRS not GPS). and that somehow it was determining my position through cell phone towers.

    the last thing: why would apple's maps not be able to do the same thing as we see in google maps? its an incredibly useful feature.
     
  18. Imory macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 2, 2013
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    Wonderland
    #18
    Did it show the location name once you connected to the Internet? In that case I guess I can always remain in airplane mode when I travel.
     
  19. Xenomorph macrumors 65816

    Xenomorph

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2008
    Location:
    St. Louis
    #19
    HOLY ****

    GPS has worked in Airplane Mode since 8.0 and I'm only now finding out about it?

    I use to pull the SIM card from old devices to use them for GPS stuff. I'd either get constant cell-searching (and a dead battery), or Airplane Mode with GPS disabled.
     
  20. CrustyJ macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2015
    #20
    Anyone tried using the FeildTest app? Might establish a more definitive answer.

    *3001#12345#*
     
  21. Paco II macrumors 65816

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    Sep 13, 2009
    #21
    This is interesting stuff! My 'hack' has been to use the SIM PIN feature. Upon starting the phone I decline enabling cell. This gives full GPS support without cellular. But it would be great to not have to do that anymore.
     
  22. lsquare macrumors 6502

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    Jul 30, 2010
  23. Richdmoore thread starter macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #23
    I have tested the GPS a bunch since my initial post. Simply put, GPS now works in airplane mode for an iPad Air 2 & iPhone 5s. I could not get the GPS to work in airplane mode on an unupdated iOS 8.2 device (iPad 2).

    There is still the issue of the GPS lock taking longer if it can't get the assisted data from wifi or cell service, but it usually doesn't take that long anyway. I still had problems keeping GPS position in the back of a moving jet aircraft, but that is to be expected due to limited sky view, and high speeds.

    Older external GPS devices (destined more than a year old using an older API) are now messed up on iOS 8.3. This effects older external GPS devices, or even newer GPS devices that use the broken API to be backwards compatibility for 30 pin iOS devices. iOS 8.4 beta 2 appears to fix this issue with the broken API. Check out the blog at bad elf's web site about the issue, as it only effects those who use external devices (generally in the airplane, boating, surveying, or high speed racing environments.)
     
  24. bigcstyle4 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    #24
    I just got back from a cruise where my iPhone was in airplane mode the whole time. I took a bunch of photos that didn't appear to be geotagged when I took them at the time, but now that I'm home and connected to data, they're all sorted by location and showing in the Atlantic Ocean.
     
  25. Imory macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 2, 2013
    Location:
    Wonderland
    #25
    Wait, so it didn't work, since they're all showing in the Atlantic Ocean?
     

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