Does Apple’s next-gen iPhone need GPS?

“If there’s anything the iPhone has lacked compared with other phones in its class, it has been high-speed connectivity and the ability to determine its location accurately. Apple will address the first shortcoming in a matter of days, when it unveils the second version of the year-old iPhone on June 9,” Arik Hesseldahl writes for BusinessWeek

“I’m hoping Apple also tackles No. 2—by including support for Global Positioning System navigation. For one thing, most of the handsets in the iPhone’s peer group contain GPS chips by default,” Hesseldahl writes. “What’s more, navigation applications can make a lot of money for carriers, and by extension, Apple, which splits service revenue with AT&T, its partner in the U.S. A survey last year by Nielsen Mobile found that navigation applications were second only to games as the most popular downloadable wireless application.”

“The iPhone currently employs a system [that] determines its position in part by using the nearest cell towers, using technology from Google. It also fixes its location based on Wi-Fi access points using another technology from Skyhook Wireless,” Hesseldahl explains. “The result is adequate for the casual pedestrian user, and will even work for basic driving directions… till, the accuracy of iPhone’s location services is hit-or-miss. It’s not unusual for Google Maps on the iPhone to show you a block or two away from where you actually are. Sometimes it will put you within 100 feet. Any civilian-grade GPS receiver worth having should be able to pinpoint your location to within 10 feet.”

“So is GPS on the way or not? …My money’s on GPS being included in version 2. But even if it’s not, there’s a strong case for including it in the third version, likely to be released sometime in 2009. Adding GPS would give the iPhone an indisputable grand-slam lineup of features: navigation along with best-in-class music and video, Web browsing, and voice and data communications,” Hesseldahl writes.

More in the full article here.


  1. @CrabApple
    Darn ! The NSA will be devastated that you’re not falling for their trick. *Now* how will the track you ? Probably thousands of employees will be laid off.

  2. I see no need for GPS at this point for me as google maps is good enough for that three times a year I need directions, but if it is included, please offer the option to turn it off so it doesn’t drain the battery.

  3. It still needs to use more power and the additional antennas to get a fix. So, it’ll either be power-hungry and bulky, or it’ll work lousy. Do you think Steve wants either of those two?

  4. Purchase the best 3rd party external add on GPS for your needs if you desperately have to have GPS. Otherwise, don’t expect it to be added in version 2 unless Apple has written a superior, more intuitive app to run on the battery draining GPS chip. I won’t hold my breath and AAPL will go down and I can see the headlines when, not if, GPS is ignored in version 2. Instead, we may see improvements and therefore emphasis upon the already existing triangulation non battery sucking solution it houses already.
    Go ahead and write the poop non-GPS headlines. You heard it here first, folks. I hope I’m wrong, but common sense says I may be correct.

  5. I use an external BT GPSr with TomTom Navigator, with a GPS program (GeoNiche) and other Palm software (by GPS Pilot) on a Treo. Use it all the time. If iPhone 2 doesn’t have its own GPSr, I hope it will at least accommodate something like what I do.

  6. GPS who care. Decent phone that actually works like a phone, and the best mobile internet connectivity available. Next people will want a Swiss Knife integrated as a life saving device, when they get lost and can’t figure out how to use the GPS features, because they left their manual at home and never read it in the first place.

    But call my cynical.

  7. I’m in a small class of iPhone users/owners and geocacher. I’d love to be able to use my iPhone for geocaching too. Not much mass appeal for that though. It’s currently available on a Nokia (antiquated phone).

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