iPhone GPS on airplane

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by moonman239, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. moonman239 macrumors 68000

    Mar 27, 2009
    It would be cool if I could use my phone to get a map of the area I'm flying over. I wish Apple would allow use of the GPS chip while the phone is in airplane mode.

    Maybe if they do, I will download an app that provides driving directions and get directions to my destination from my current location. It would be funny if the app said, "You're going to crash into something," or "I'm calling Batman, because you stole the Batmobile."
  2. Shrink, Aug 5, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013

    Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    Since there is no question, or real point of discussion in the post, I'm assuming that comments regarding the post are sought.

    So...it sure would be cool...and it sure would be funny.:D

  3. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Even if you were allowed to use GPS outside of airplane mode (never tried it) a jet is moving too fast for the iPhones GPS to keep track of (I have tried that).
  4. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    Is that was passes for humor these days? Regardless, you can.
  5. AppleCruncher macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    This is incorrect.

    And airplanes won't crash if you leave your phone on. Heck, most of the flights I have been on recently only want the stuff turned off for takeoff and landing. After takeoff they let you turn them back on.
  6. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    How is what I said incorrect?
  7. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    It's incorrect in that aircraft do not move too fast for GPS. You're incorrectly interpreting your results.
  8. dylanlewis2000 macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2009
    On a recent Virgin flight the phone was able Geo Tag some photos. Although the phone was not in Air Plane mode, it was connected to the planes network although data was turned off.
  9. Italianblend macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2011
    No. They let you use devices, but still want cellular turned off. That's why it's called airplane mode.
  10. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Its too fast for an iPhones GPS is what I said.

    I tried using the speedometer app to see how fast we were going and that's the message I got. Speedometer app relies on GPS btw. Also wouldn't work with maps. My commute is on a plane so in boredom I tried every way I could think of.

    If you know any other ways to test it let me know I don't mind trying it.

    I don't have access to metadata but if you have a PC try to pull location from this picture which is obviously on a plane. (Im assuming the metadata will transfer, if not I'll check when I get home).

  11. ugcop macrumors 6502a


    Mar 15, 2012
    Traveling @ Warp Speed ...... USA
    Being incapsulayed in an aluminum tube does not lend itself to a small receiver with inadequate antenna (iPhone) to successfully find and lock onto the several GPS satellite signals needed to plot a location. Can it happen intermittently? Sometimes.
  12. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    More then likely you are right. However on the tarmac its never an issue getting a quick GPS fix.

    No way to really test it outside doing 450 mph though so there's no telling. However I can't hide an iPhone from GPS in a vehicle even in the trunk (find my iPhone on vacation, oops, false alarm, my bad lol)
  13. AppleCruncher macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    I have had zero problems locating myself while in flight. Sometimes I had to put the phone near the window but it shows you on the map and displays correct speed. My experience.
  14. dictoresno macrumors 601


    Apr 30, 2012
    On a recent flight from Las Vegas to NJ, I had my iPhone 5 on during the flight using the on board wifi. I was able to pick up a GPS signal once while we were low over Arizona, and Facebook even tagged the photo as such. But once we were up at 36,000 ft I was unable to get google or apple maps to load any mapping data even with wifi on board for data. My guess is that the gps was working just fine, but the data was unable to stream the map data fast enough due to the slow EVDO wifi connection that the inflight wifi uses. And on a side note, I was able to pick up one bar of Verizon's 1x here and there between 20,000 and 30,000 ft.
  15. kfergiez macrumors 6502


    Jul 5, 2010
    I always use my iPhone's GPS mid-flight. Sometimes it take forever to get a lock on the satellites (2 min. or so) because I'm a few hundred miles from the last time the GPS was turned on, but it's not too fast by any means.

    P.S. Most GPSs try to locate the satellites overhead by using the telemetry from the last known location. If you are far from the last known location, it can take a while to locate the satellites.
  16. dbrewer80221 macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2009
  17. Troneas macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2011
    At the alternatives section.
  18. pk7 macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2011
    I wish I uploaded that and got 1,000,000+ views. :(

    Kidding aside, it works fine. I'm traveling overseas right now and if you switch on the GPS right after the 10,000 ft. allowance, it works. Hell, even beyond that.

    Actual location pin pointing on maps works too. I didn't get a picture of it but I have done it before. And you can see the coordinates and altitude in the screenshot below.

    Proof from my iPad:

    Attached Files:

  19. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    It's like how people say GPS can't possibly work indoors - it's just not true.
  20. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Indeed. It seems few people understand how GPS works. No need to be a rocket scientist to understand the basic concepts.

    Ignorance knows no bounds.
  21. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The GPS chip isn't affected by your speed, because you are actually moving at high speed when you are sitting still on the ground - you are moving 40,000 km in 24 hours or about 1,666 km/h (over 1000 mph) at the equator; less but still quite fast further north or south. The GPS chip isn't affected by your altitude either.

    The only limitation is that all GPS chips check for speed / location that indicates use in a ballistic missile and refuse to give any position / speed data in that situation. So if you want to build a GPS controlled ballistic missile, you'll have to build the complete GPS chip yourself.

    Oh, one more problem: GPS needs four satellites to work properly. If it only has three satellites, GPS could guess that you are on the ground and report the one location on the ground that matches the satellite data; if that happens then you would get inaccurate data if you are on top of some tower, and very incorrect data if you are in a plane at 20,000 ft height. (Basically, with three satellites the GPS can correctly determine a line on which you must be, and then calculate where that line crosses the surface of the earth).


    Being close to a window helps, and a better quality GPS also helps.
  22. ET iPhone Home macrumors 68040

    ET iPhone Home

    Oct 5, 2011
    Orange County, California USA
    I did sit next to a guy who was able to to track our flight via a GPS app on his laptop. I never did ask what the app was called. It had an aircraft icon depicting where we were flying over. And you could see outside your window how accurate it was where lakes and small towns were visible.
  23. AppleCruncher macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    That rule only applies to units for export. They are classified as munitions. You can still purchase one, or modify it yourself, to work properly at any speed or altitude. Either way, the limit is far above what a commercial aircraft is going to see.

Share This Page