Using iPad 3G GPS without a data plan
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: Does the iPad 3G GPS work without a data plan?
A: The short answer is yes, although if you’re using the built-in Maps application you will still require a data connection—either cellular or Wi-Fi—in order to actually download the Google Maps data, since this is not stored locally on the device. If you have no Internet connection at all you will need to use a third-party application that stores map data locally on your device.
The iPhone and iPad 3G contain an actual GPS receiver but also use a technology known as Assisted GPS (AGPS) which references cellular towers to provide a faster GPS fix. Normally, a GPS received must be able to receive a signal from several GPS satellites in order to provide an accurate location fix, but of course this assumes that you’re potential location is anywhere on the surface of the earth. Identifying nearby cellular towers provides a very quick approximate location requiring less time and fewer satellite signals to determine your specific position. Note, however, that AGPS does not require a cellular data connection in order to find nearby towers, so you don’t specifically require a data plan to use it, although on an iPad 3G, no data plan likely means no cellular connection at all.
This would normally result in the iPad taking a longer time to find your location, however the Location Services in iOS also use nearby Wi-Fi access points in much the same way as cellular towers to assist the GPS lookup process, meaning that as long as you have Wi-Fi turned on and are in an area with one or more nearby Wi-Fi access points you should still get a reasonably quick location fix. Keep in mind as well that you don’t need to be connected to any Wi-Fi networks for this purpose—iOS Location Services looks at all of the access points that it can see nearby whether you’re connected to them or not.
At worst if you are travelling in a remote area with your iPad 3G and no cellular data connection or nearby Wi-Fi you will find that a GPS fix can take up to five minutes to happen, but you’ll still eventually get one. As noted earlier, however, you’ll still need to be using an app with locally-stored maps to see your location indicated on an actual map.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Federal bill aims to take regulatory power for phone encryption out of state hands
- Job post shows Apple emphasizing new complications, faces for Apple Watch
- New comments hint at forthcoming streaming TV service from Apple
- Apple Music available on Sonos starting today
- Screen protector installation now available at Apple Stores
- Russia mulling tax increase on App Store purchases, other Apple services
- Lawyers threaten to sue Apple over ‘Error 53’ codes disabling iPhones
- Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 3, tvOS 9.2 beta 3, watchOS 2.2 beta 3 to developers
- Indie game ‘The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth’ rejected by Apple over violence toward children
- Apple likely to receive approval to open retail stores in India
- Vicks SmartTemp Wireless Smartphone Thermometer
- Gumdrop Cases DropTech Case for iPad Pro
- Edifier MP700 Rave Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Just Mobile HoverDock for Apple Watch + HoverDock for iPhone
- VRS Design Dandy Layered Case for iPad Pro
- Just Mobile TENC for iPad Pro
- Native Union DOCK Lightning
- Native Union DOCK for Apple Watch
- Hitcase Pro+ Action Pack and Snap for iPhone 6/6s
- Urban Armor Gear Trooper for iPhone 6/6s
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 12.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 8.4 + Apple Music
- CE Week 2015: IK Multimedia, Monowear’s Apple Watch bands + More
- Live From CE Week 2015: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!