GPS On the iPhone 2: Do Not Want

Illustration for article titled GPS On the iPhone 2: Do Not Want



The drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

a) The location tech in the current iPhone is much quicker. No matter what chip, even SiRFstar chips in full-blooded GPSes take a while to lock on. When using the very capable N95, I'd often drive across town or walk halfway to my destination before I'd get signal lock.

b) I'd never use an iPhone as a car GPS. Not even with updated software. The amount of work and expertise that goes into a high-end, 5+ generation Garmin is some serious stuff. The logic is all proprietary. It's not easy to do. And GPS antennas need to be somewhat pointed. If it's on your dash, it needs to be on the back. If it's for walking, it needs to be on the front. Which is it?

c) Battery life gets screwed when you keep the GPS on with constant updates.

d) These chips aren't exactly small, although they have been known to fit in things like Suunto watches. That going to make this thing thicker?

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No thanks. Don't need it. I'm fine with the current location technology. It works for walking and that's all I need it for.

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DISCUSSION

a) GPS fix on many devices nowadays can be done in under 20 seconds if you add a downloadable location table (like what TomTom and HTC do with their GPS Quick Fix software. I get a cold fix in 15 seconds with my tomtom after moving it 2000 miles.

b) Agreed. But software is just that. And Garmin have their interface available for WM, Blackberry and I don't think there is much that'll stop them from porting it to the iPhone.

c) Agree, but if you make smart software to control the GPS chip then it's perfectly usable. But like with all features, keep it on and it'll kill the battery.

As for the antenna; I haven't "pointed" my GPS antenna in ages, on most of my devices I don't even know where it is. I think Garmin is the only one that still uses those pathetic popup things. I can take my Mogul into the middle of the house and still get a rock solid 8 sat fix.

d) There is GPS in many Blackberry devices, and it hasn't made them much larger. GPS is integrated in most baseband controllers anyway, so for Apple it's probably just as simple as wiring an antenna to it.

Tower triangulation like the current iPhone has is great if you live in the city and the only motorized vehicle you use is driven by a bus driver. But once you get out away from major cities there isn't always a 100% coverage of tower ID's, and the 100 feet guesstimate turns into a few miles.