Apple iPad: Does it have 'real' GPS? (updated: yes and no)

Summary:There's a debate that's raging over the "Assisted GPS" (A-GPS) features that's included in the iPad. It's unclear as to whether the iPad includes a dedicated GPS chip or whether it's using Assisted GPS to simulate "real" GPS.

There's a debate that's raging over the "Assisted GPS" (A-GPS) features that's included in the iPad. It's unclear as to whether the iPad includes a dedicated GPS chip or whether it's using Assisted GPS to simulate "real" GPS. Or something else completely

Here's how Wikipedia describes A-GPS, for context:

Conventional or "standalone" GPS operation uses radio signals from satellites. In very poor signal conditions, for example in a city, these signals may suffer multipath where signals bounce confusingly off buildings, or be weakened by passing through walls or tree cover... An A-GPS system can address these problems in several ways, using an assistance server or other data from a network.

The iPad tech specs clearly list (under Location):

Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Update: Looking closer at the "Wireless and cellular" category in Apple's iPad tech specs. "Wi-Fi model" is one configuration and "Wi-Fi + 3G model" is the other. From the Location section it could be interpreted that Assisted GPS is included in the Wi-Fi and 3G models (meaning both) but Apple actually uses the plus-sign in "Wi-Fi + 3G model" to mean the high-end, 3G model). Apple's marketing took some liberties with the plus-sign. So, to clarify, the 3G model has GPS and the Wi-Fi model doesn't have GPS.

http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/FCKEditorFiles//gallery-software-maps-20100127.jpg

So... is it a dedicated GPS chip, a combined chip (i.e. part of Apple's A4 or 3G chips) or is it using A-GPS as pseudo-GPS?

Interestingly enough, the tech specs for the iPhone 3GS (first column, also under Location) also list it as having "Assisted GPS."

Put another way: does the iPad ship with the same GPS functionality as the the iPhone 3GS?

The iPad tech specs clearly states that A-GPS is available on both the Wi-Fi and the 3G iPads, pretty much nullifying the argument that GPS is somehow included in the 3G chip. Although its conceivable that Apple could add extra GPS-specific silicon to the WiFi model, but it seems unlikely.

Post your take in the TalkBack.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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