iPhone 5 As GPS

Discussion of non-operating system issues related to iPods, iPhones, and the iPod Touch.
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Richard Serkes
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iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Richard Serkes » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:13 pm

I'm in need of a GPS and hiking trail maps for the UK. A basic GPS that will accept maps on micro-SD cards is about $165 but the maps are pricey at around $170. So to get a GPS and a set of trail maps would run approximately $335 plus applicable taxes and S&H.

Another alternative is to use a trail maps app on my iPhone since the iPhone has a GPS chip. Believe it or not there are a few highly rated apps in the $12 range that will do what I want. But these apps warn that keeping the GPS on can really use up battery life.

Being overseas I would turn off the data download feature and just not answer the phone in the unlikely chance that someone would call while I'm out hiking. So if I were to start the day with a fully charged battery, how many hours of GPS time would you think I could get?

I'll be out all day so I need at least six to eight hours of GPS connection. Is this possible?
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Stephen Hart
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Stephen Hart » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:40 am

I have this app
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/locatio ... 42101?mt=8
and could leave it on for a few hours to test it out. It does say "Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life."
I haven't used it much, but one time I did track a walk near the mouth of the Elwha, and except for showing that I'd looped around once (I hadn't), it was quite accurate.

I expect that you can also get information about the usefulness of Google Maps and Apple Maps in the location you're heading for. Neither of those will run your battery down too much because they shut off location sensing when you're not actually using them. We've tested Maps on walks around PA and it's quite accurate.

You could also get Carat or a similar app and determine how to maximize battery life re: other apps than the GPS.

Also, note that the Verizon iPhone 5 comes unlocked and you can get an international sim, or install a pay-as-you-go sim when you arrive. There's a lot of discussion of this on Macintouch. For example, today:

http://www.macintouch.com/readerreports ... d12feb2013
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Richard Serkes » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:41 am

Google Maps and Apple Maps require WiFi or constant data availability. I'm not going to continuously download data in the UK hour after hour, day after day. I can't even start to imagine what that would cost. Plus I'll be in places where I've been warned that mobile access is non-existent and of course there's no WiFi on the trail. The apps I'm looking at download the maps BEFORE you start hiking and then all you use is the GPS chip.

I suppose one option is to keep the iPhone OFF until I get to a "fork-in-the-road" situation and then turn it on briefly to find my position and determine where I need to go...then turn it off again.

I was and am just hoping that leaving the iPhone on with no data downloads and no incoming calls would give me enough battery life for the day then I could recharge every night.
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Stephen Hart » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:01 am

I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I just had that GPS app I mentioned running from 8:00 until 11:00. I wasn't doing much else, but did listen to a podcast for about 15 minutes. The whole battery cost was about 20% of full.
I think you'd have to test the actual app you plan to use.

The other obvious tactic is to make sure as many apps as possible are actually off while you're hiking. One big battery hog is searching for a signal if you're out of cell tower range. I'm not sure how to prevent the iPhone from doing that.
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Richard Serkes » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:16 am

Stephen Hart wrote:I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I just had that GPS app I mentioned running from 8:00 until 11:00. I wasn't doing much else, but did listen to a podcast for about 15 minutes. The whole battery cost was about 20% of full.
I think you'd have to test the actual app you plan to use.

The other obvious tactic is to make sure as many apps as possible are actually off while you're hiking. One big battery hog is searching for a signal if you're out of cell tower range. I'm not sure how to prevent the iPhone from doing that.
Well, 20% in three hours isn't too bad. That would mean 60% after nine hours which would more than do the trick and leave me a little cushion. I also have a portable battery but I'd hate to schlep that along on a hike. It would mean more weight to carry. Plus, I could turn off the iPhone when resting or having lunch and that would also save battery life.

Turning off the "seek" WiFi feature is easy. Just set the iPhone to Airplane Mode and the WiFi is shut down. That was my plan as well as turning on the Do Not Disturb feature to stop any incoming phone calls.

I'd love to try the specific apps to see how they dealt with battery drain but as we know, one of the downsides to the App Store is you don't get a trial period. It would be nice if I could download the apps, try them for a couple of days and then if they don't work for me get my money back. But I don't know how to do that with the App Store. These apps I'm looking at are all in the $12 range. There are three I'm interested in and I don't want to spend $36 just to find out that they suck the battery life out of my iPhone and really aren't good for trail hiking. But this is what I may have to do. There is one of the three that has the best ratings so I could start by downloading just that one.
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Stephen Hart » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:04 pm

Turning off the "seek" WiFi feature is easy. Just set the iPhone to Airplane Mode and the WiFi is shut down. That was my plan as well as turning on the Do Not Disturb feature to stop any incoming phone calls.

I meant seeking cell towers, not WiFi. I see battery drain when I'm walking around Obstruction Point. Never to the point of loss of a whole charge, but still. I don't know whether that has improved with any recent iOS updates.
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Richard Serkes » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:22 pm

Hmmmm, I wonder if Do Not Disturb would turn off seeking cell towers?
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Stephen Hart » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:07 pm

Richard Serkes wrote:Hmmmm, I wonder if Do Not Disturb would turn off seeking cell towers?
I doubt it. Do Not Disturb has to be able to answer calls that you'd whitelisted. But maybe Airplane Mode would work.
Of course, the phone should deal with this on its own. It should just check less frequently and for a shorter time as it gets more frustrated. I mean, why can't the darned thing learn, better yet, evolve?
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Richard Serkes » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:18 pm

Stephen Hart wrote:
Richard Serkes wrote:Hmmmm, I wonder if Do Not Disturb would turn off seeking cell towers?
I doubt it. Do Not Disturb has to be able to answer calls that you'd whitelisted. But maybe Airplane Mode would work.
Of course, the phone should deal with this on its own. It should just check less frequently and for a shorter time as it gets more frustrated. I mean, why can't the darned thing learn, better yet, evolve?
But if you set Do Not Disturb for no calls period, why would the iPhone seek out cell towers?
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Re: iPhone 5 As GPS

Post by Stephen Hart » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:30 pm

Richard Serkes wrote:But if you set Do Not Disturb for no calls period, why would the iPhone seek out cell towers?
You might be right. But my guess is that because Do Not Disturb has options for incoming calls, it doesn't limit cell tower connections.

BTW, this might be useful:

http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/09/24 ... tery-life/
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
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