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iPad 2 WiFi Gets GPS When Tethered To iPhone

by on March 16th, 2011

If you have been deciding between purchasing the iPad WiFi or iPad WiFi + 3G, here is another reason to stick with the former selection.

With the release of iOS 4.3, Apple introduced an iPhone 4 feature called “Personal Hotspot”. This feature enables users to share their iPhone’s 3G data connection with other devices over WiFi. This alone is a major reason to save the extra cash and stick with an iPad WiFi. But some users want to purchase the 3G iPad due to its GPS capabilities.

According to Kyle Carmitchel of TabletMonsters, it seems that if you tether your iPad WiFi to your iPhone using Personal Hotspot, the iPad reportedly receives GPS capabilities.

It is clear I am being fed GPS information from the phone, at what appears to be an interval of once a minute or so between refreshes (likely they didn’t do real time updating so as to go easy on the phone’s battery).

Also, this capability is not restricted to just the iPad 2; the original iPad can benefit as well.

If this find is legitimate and you own an iPhone 4 and want to pocket the extra cash required to purchase the iPad 3G, and also don’t want to pay service fees to a carrier, pick up the iPad WiFi and use Personal Hotspot!


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Posted under: iPad Firmware, iPad News

  • Peternorth

    Sweet, that makes it a no brainer decision got me. Just may have to upgrade my phone4 data plan.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Ex! I was just looking for info on this… Looks like I will be buying a WiFi only 🙂

  • Laserheart

    It doesn’t seem to work with the original iPad for me.

    I tried this functionality as one of the first things I tried out on iOS 4.3, and was disappointed when I couldn’t make it work.

    Is there a control panel setting that needs to be set for this to work?

  • Peter

    Nice!!! Now I have no concerns about sticking with the Wifi model.

  • Elayne

    What am I missing? I have the original iPad WiFi + 3G but didn’t have a plan until a couple of months ago. But Navigon and TomTom have always worked on it. So what exactly do you mean by GPS capability?

  • Bob

    I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the iPhone gps. It knows the location based on the Internet triangulation of the 3G service. The same thing happens when you connect to a wifi network. It can trigulate from the wifi, and it relates it to the point of presence of that particular wifi network.

    You can verify this by going into a building with a large wifi network, say a school or mall, where one should not be able to pick up a gps signal, and yet it’ll lock on. If been in buildings with five floors of concrete above me and Maps knew exactly where I was.

  • Bill7531

    Totally true. In fact, this has been working since iPad 1 with MyWi.

  • Elayne

    Yes but to be clear I use my Navigon on my iPad in my car. I have no 3G or WiFi and it works fine.

  • Kiwi

    hmm.. seems no reason now to get the 3G iPad 2.

  • Kiwi

    I bet you have the 3G iPad. Do you have a SIM card installed and now activated? If so, the A-GPS chip is actually working and triangulating the location for your Navigon software.
    BTW – you running an iPad GPS in a Escalade/Surburban/F150 or similar? It would take up too much room in any other car!

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  • Mark Stevens

    I checked on this back at my remote camp this week-end in Northern Ontario. I use a Wilson Booster, and get full bars of Fido 3G, I tested Personal Hotspot this week-end. Sharing the data worked great with my wife’s iPad. I tried using Maps on the Ipad. “Location Not Available”. It definitely was not passing the GPS data to the iPad. GPS was working fine on the iPhone 4. Hopefully this is something that Apple will address in the future. I also thought it was interesting that the iPad showed a special logo when connected via Personal Hotspot instead of the standard signal Wifi bars. I don’t like that I can’t see a visual queue of the signal strength. If I’m missing something let me know.