Question about so called GPS apps

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by tpcollins, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. tpcollins macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    On another forum some people are claiming they have downloaded a GPS app onto their iPhone that works great, able to download maps, etc. But to use it as a functioning GPS unit, doesn't it require to have cell service as well?

    There are some hunters planning on going out west to hunt and pan to just use a GPS app instead of getting an actual functioning GPS unit. I would think they're going to be in for a surprise if they get somewhere in the mountains with no cell service.

    Am I correct in thinking this or not? Thanks.
  2. bradbomb macrumors 6502


    Jan 7, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    If the maps are downloaded to the device, no they do not need active cell service. The GPS works. Cell Service would be needed for something like live updating of maps, traffic, sending your location to someone else.
  3. darksithpro, Apr 25, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017

    darksithpro macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2016

    Not necessarily. There is one app I have that you can download maps before you go on your trails without the need for a cellular connection later on. Check out

    "Tap into the Wild
    Gaia GPS helps people with the wildest adventures on Earth. World-class Everest guides, wildland firefighters, and record-breaking thru-hikers use Gaia GPS for work and play.

    Gaia GPS integrates the best topo maps, offline navigation tools, and planning features, seamlessly across phones, tablets, and"

    So, yea, you can turn your smartphone into a fully fledged Garmin like device with a software app.
  4. tpcollins thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    I have a Garmin Etrex GPS unit that after acquiring satellites overhead, I can mark the location where I parked my truck as a waypoint, go into the woods for the day, and later use the GPS to find my way back to my truck.

    So these GPS apps for my iPhone will do the exact very same thing where there's no cell service? I'm not wanting to have follow preloaded maps - I just want to make sure that if I'm out in the boonies somewhere I can use my iPhone to follow a direction arrow to find my way back to my truck that was previously marked as a waypoint?

    Also, I have a compass app on my iPhone 6s, will it work without cell or WiFi service? Thanks.
  5. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    As written above, you phone only needs cellular service to download the maps. The GPS and compass will work fine with no cell service..
  6. tpcollins thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    I didn't realize my iPhone had a GPS chip in it. I found a link comparing Motion-X with the Gaia GPS, and even though the author had the Motion-X, he said the Gaia provides more and was much better.

    The topi map that I wanted was going to cost me $14 shipped, and the Gaia GPS app was $20 so I bought it. It has a ton of topo maps and I've even learned how to download maps, set a waypoint, and follow my position on the screen. I'm good! ;)
  7. sparksd macrumors 68000

    Jun 7, 2015
    Seattle WA
    Agree - Gaia is a very nice app with a lot of good options for maps. I have it on my Air 2 (my phone is a Galaxy Edge 2 and I use a similar app - Backcountry Navigator on it.) I have 5 Garmin devices, going back to the 12XL, and these iOS and Android options are comparable; arguably, access to CalTopo maps make them a better value.

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