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. I do a few runs a year to upper Eastern PA near the Delaware river valley. No Cell sites up there to speak of, from any carrier and wifi on the farms are hard to come by. A bloototh link to a GPS receiver would be perfect to fill in the gaps when you’re cruising the continental divide or trawling across I94 in North Dakota.

  2. @Sixvodkas

    what about people that DON’T drive cars ?

    who cares that u drive for a living (sounds really sad by the way), could u show some more respect ?

    u are driving for a living, without a GPS ?

    u are wrong anyway, using GPS antenna’s to pinpoint your location will only work, well, when there are antennas !

    not when a GPS is really interesting, like a walk in the mountains.

    or in a train, boat or plane.

  3. you also missed the point he was making.

    when u use geolocation for navigation, the lack of precision is not just a problem when u are at your destination, but every time u take a road that is within the margin of error from another road, the software gets lost, and takes at least 30 seconds to a minute to fall back on it’s feat.

  4. I don’t know much about GPS chips and power usage, but it seems that when you are not using an app that specifically needs it, you aren’t using it at all.

    ” GPS receivers are like the radio receivers in your car. They don’t transmit.”

    So for many uses, it would just be a short blip to get your current location.

    The real power is when there are good quality downloadable maps on the AppStore.

    It would be great to have detailed maps on the phone rather than relying on Google Maps and network connection all the time.

  5. It would be great to have large files like maps on your .Mac (.Matrix?) account, accessed by 3G or Wi-Fi, to aid in GPS mapping.

    The Google Maps are good, but I get many inaccuracies and notifications that a route can’t be found or my current location can’t be found, even though I am in a city. Annoying.

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