iPhone GPS AbroadShare
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Worried about iPhone international roaming charges while traveling abroad, but you want to use the phone’s GPS? If “abroad” means Canada or the US you can use MotionX maps. Also – information on using the iPhone GPS without incurring data charges.
I’ve had lots of people ask me about using their iPhone when traveling abroad. Specifically, they want to know if the GPS will work without the SIM card installed (yes) or while in Airplane Mode (no).
MotionX GPS updated their iPhone app a while back with an extremely useful feature: The ability to preload a map cache for selected geographic areas. You can also select a range of zoom levels you wish to cache. The interface is as simple as dragging a circle around the area to be cached. You can also drag an oval shape if your travels are more linear-inclined.
Before the update I preloaded map tiles into MotionX GPS by dragging maps around an area of interest in advance of my travels. That wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to repeat the procedure for every zoom level you might want to view while offline. Omissions were inevitable.
Of course as you select closer and closer zoom levels there will be far more tiles to download. The app lets you know how many megabytes you’re downloading and a progress bar lets you know when the cache has been built. You can also delete a cache when you don’t need it anymore.
Cached maps improve performance while online as well, so maybe you’d download your home town. The maps will load faster when they’re already on your iPhone. Note that MotionX GPS works with Google and Bing map tiles but the preload cache feature only works with MotionX’s own maps. The MotionX maps have been fine for Murphy.
Your phone has a button to turn off data roaming, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t use the iPhone for voice or data. Instead of using Airplane Mode while in Toronto I removed my sim card to ensure I wouldn’t be charged international data rates. Airplane Mode turns off the GPS receiver. My hotel wifi connection gave the GPS enough information to get a fast fix on my location and from then on the GPS worked just fine. Without a cellular or indexed wifi connection it could take a very long time for the iPhone GPS to report its location.
Note: Turning on Airplane Mode turns off wifi too, but you can manually turn wifi back on while in Airplane Mode.
MotionX GPS isn’t primarily designed for tourists or finding restaurants. But to find your way around the streets in an unfamiliar city it’s more than adequate. The application is built for biking, hiking, running, etc. But the cache and other features make it useful in many situations. For $2.99 MotionX GPS is easily one of the best paid apps Murphy has purchased.
MotionX GPS ($2.99) has frequently been updated with useful new functionality since I purchased it. They also make a turn-by-turn direction product called Drive that Murphy hasn’t tried yet.Murphy's Web Host | Permalink