iPad Mini as GPS Using Sygic, CoPilot, Motion-X GPS Drive Apps

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Meff, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Tethering an iPad to an iPhone

    :cob

    OK, so this might be a little "Tablet 101" for most guys, but I didn't understand (until today) how to get cellular data service on my iPad Mini 4. I've been using it completely offline. Making the iPad data-capable, though, lets me use Google Maps for traffic info, routing and to search for stuff, and I've got other apps too that can do a lot more when I'm within range of a cell phone tower. When I'm riding out in the boonies where there's no service, there's no traffic and no towns either, so it doesn't matter. But when I get into a populated area, it's nice to have data.

    To do this, go into the iPhone and the iPad Bluetooth settings and pair them. Then on the iPhone turn on Personal Hotspot. That's it. My iPhone has an unlimited data plan so I'm cool. I went out and tried it today and it worked great. I now have my iPad giving me traffic info and it didn't cost me anything!

    I suppose I'll have a bunch of you young guys saying "You didn't know that?" in a tone of voice that really means "What an idiot." But there's gotta be some old fossils out there like me who will appreciate this post (hit the Like button if that's you.):gerg

    Anybody have any hints or suggestions? Should I turn off the HotSpot when I'm not using it?
    #21
  2. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Good news from Amazon today--

    NUUD.jpeg
    #22
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  3. Meff

    Meff half way there...

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    Good call...
    #23
  4. DaMonk45

    DaMonk45 I B Da Monk

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    Check the fine print of your plan
    You may have free data, but it may NOT include tethering


    #24
  5. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Good point! I only know one way to "check the fine print" and that's to look at the bill when it comes in. So far so good for me. YMMV.
    #25
  6. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Got the Lifeproof NUUD case today for my iPad Mini 4. Nice. The instructions tell you to test it submersed in water for 30 minutes and to contact Customer Service at once if any water gets in.

    None did. :raindance Cool.


    I'll try to post up some pics tomorrow mounted on my 12GS.
    #26
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  7. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    don't forget to post some pictures of it mounted on your ride :)
    #27
  8. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Here's my iPad Mini 4 in its case.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the back of my iPad Mini 4 and a sheet of sticky-backed Velcro--

    [​IMG]

    Here is the back of my iPad Mini 4 with a sheet of Velcro stuck to it--

    [​IMG]

    Here is the cockpit view of my 12GSA--

    [​IMG]

    Here is the back side of my Gadget Guy mounting system with a piece of sheet aluminum mounted to it--

    [​IMG]

    Here is another look at my mounting plate where you can see, guess what, a sheet of Velcro stuck to it--

    [​IMG]

    (If you are wondering why the top of the alu plate is bent backwards, then you don't have much experience with Velcro.)

    Finally, here's my iPad Mini 4 mounted to the bike with the camera at my eyeball level when seated--

    [​IMG]

    I can see the speedo, tach and RID just fine, the Mini is below the top lip of the windscreen so it won't take any bug or rock hits, it's far below my line-of-sight while riding, and I have three power sources to choose from if the battery gets low. I have (1) an unswitched USB socket on the left side of the tank, right next to (2) an unswitched Powerlet socket, and (3) I carry a 14,000mwh external battery in my tank bag (this one) that reaches the Mini easily with a 12-inch cable--this is what I prefer to use.

    I'm sure this system is not for everybody, but it works for me (I've been using it with a Supcase). The only hassle is to remove the Mini I have to use a small plastic spatula (stored in my tank bag) to separate the Velcro halves. My only worry is I haven't tried it yet in 90+ or 100+ temps. That'll happen this summer. I'm not sure if the Velcro adhesive will be able to handle the heat.
    #28
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  9. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    I would be worried about the cold, not the heat. Great pictures and mounting ideas. Thank you!
    #29
  10. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    According to Apple specs (not actual user experience) the Mini 4 will run OK from 32f to 95f, and will definitely NOT function below -4f or above 113f. If those numbers are anywhere near accurate, that won't cramp my style much. I also carry my iPhone as back-up. Not to mention that since I'm an OLD FF (turning 65 this year) I carry with me, and know how to use, a set of archaic navigation tools that my father taught me how to use when I was a kid--

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    #30
  11. Meff

    Meff half way there...

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    Hey Drone - any over the road impressions of your new set up yet ?
    #31
  12. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    [Note: all the screenshots below are the same area (Easton WA) scaled to about the same size.]


    First, let me say this. When the sun is shining on the screen, I don't care if it's a Zumo, a Montana, a Nuvi, a DeLorme PN-60 (all of which I've had), or a smartphone, you can't see what's on the screen. Even sitting on a park bench, you have to shade the screen to see clearly. Same deal with an iPad Mini. Except, because the screen is 4 times the size of a Montana screen, it seems worse because you have 4 times as much sunshine shining back at you. But I don't think it's really worse. I think it's the same.

    Next qualifier I'll add, and I've mentioned this before, is that I don't use routes or tracks very much. I do use them, and this summer I'm planning a trip where tracks will be used a lot, but I haven't used any of these apps yet for gpx purposes. So none of my impressions are based on ease of use for tracks.

    I'm also using my iPad offline, so none of my comments refer to online use, either through WiFi or cell service.

    Lastly, I'll mention that I'm just a beginner. Most of these apps have tons of features and capabilities I haven't explored yet. So these are my "beginner" impressions.

    That said, the easiest screen to see is Co-Pilot HD USA & Canada [LINK]. It gives you about 20 different screen styles to choose from and you're bound to find one you like. Co-Pilot is also nice because it displays your speed in fairly BIG digital numbers, and the vehicle icon showing your current location is also gigantic, which makes it easier to see with a quick glance. Co-Pilot also has POI's and gives directions to a location. So, for paved roads, this one's really good.

    CoPilot Screenshot
    [​IMG]


    Pocket Earth Pro [LINK] -- brilliant topo maps for when you need a topo. Also shows speed and altitude on the map as well as the map scale and your GPS coordinates. The screen itself is fairly clean and easy to read. The stored maps are giga-greedy, but all-in-all it's a keeper.

    PocketEarth Screenshot
    [​IMG]


    Galileo Pro [LINK] -- it's OK I guess. Mountain peaks are identified really clearly. The map style itself is uncluttered, but the reason is because to see a lot of minor roads you have to zoom in. They disappear when you zoom out. That's one of the things I hate about my Montana.

    Galileo Screenshot
    [​IMG]


    HERE Maps [LINK] -- I could find nothing that it does better than other map apps. It also has a screen that does not expand to fit the iPad screen so its screen is about 75% of the size of the Sygic screen for example. If I had wanted a smaller screen I would have bought a 6+. I've moved this app off my Home screen.

    HERE Maps Screenshot--
    [​IMG]


    Sygic Maps [LINK] -- same deal. I know a lot of guys like it, it's in the title of this thread, and it works OK, but there's nothing that makes it special for me.

    Sygic Screenshot--
    [​IMG]


    Motion X GPS HD [LINK] -- most map apps let you choose whether to use location services only when using the app. Motion X only has the options of "Always" or "Never". I wonder about battery usage if I've got it running location services 24/7. So I change it to "Never" but that means I have to drill down through several menu screens to turn on the GPS service when I want to use Motion X. I guess this is a "nit", but I wonder why the developer doesn't have the "Only When Using" option. Nit #2, the size of the Motion X screen is smaller than other map apps because the top and bottom menu bars are so big. I like big buttons, but these buttons obscure 26% of the screen (I measured). Other map apps seem to do buttons more efficiently. Nit #3, the maps are huge. I don't think there's any way to download maps one state at a time, but if I could download just the State of Washington it's 6Gb. So map size is a limiting factor for me who goes on rides of a week or longer. Other than these nits, Motion X is nothing short of amazing. I have only begun to explore all the things it can do.

    MotionX Screenshot--
    [​IMG]


    You Need A Map [LINK] -- I'm saving for last an app that nobody is talking about but the one that I think is the most amazing, the most informing, the coolest, etc etc. What is it? It's called "You Need A Map". Funny name, I know. It is the free version of "Scenic Map" but as far as I can tell the paid version doesn't give you much more than the free version. What's cool about it?--The map itself. First of all--it's a shaded relief map where you can place the sun anywhere you want. The ridges and the valleys appear completely different when you put the sun in the east, for instance, than in the southwest. It's really fun to play with just this single function. Deep saturated colors, and tons and tons of info on the screen. Minor roads are easy to see, rivers, contour lines, railroad tracks, rivers and creeks, it really has it all. National Forests are colored differently from State Forests, and different from private lands. Another thing I like is that your vehicle leaves a visible track behind you that automatically gets stored (like a Montana). So you can see right now which roads you've been on (helps when you're kinda lost), and weeks later you can go back to see where you were.

    The app lets you choose from 5 map styles. I have no use for #4 or #5, but #1, 2 and 3 are all great with only minor differences in how and what they display. With all the on-screen detail, I'd say this is not the app you want for urban or suburban use. The interface becomes too congested unless you really zoom in. Though, in some urban areas this can be cool because the footprint of every single building appears on the map. I went to my son's house in Seattle that was built 5 years ago and his house appears on the map--right shape, right size. Spooky. But, anyway, for backcountry use I'm finding this app to be really fantastic! You've got to experience the shaded relief to see how cool it can be.

    If you have a lot of questions about this app, don't ask them, just download it--it's free! My version is using 3.1Gb of storage on my iPad including the offline maps and I'd guess the iPhone version is similar. Do it! :smooch

    You Need A Map Screenshot--
    [​IMG]
    #32
  13. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    FWIW, I used my iPad Mini 4 (held on by Velcro as shown above) on a 4300-mile trip to Colorado this summer that included a little over 1000 miles on dirt and gravel roads (some with severe washboard) and my iPad Mini took the abuse just fine.

    The mounting system was bulletproof, yet I could still remove the iPad in about 30 seconds if I wanted to take it with me. Re-mounting took a little longer--10 seconds to position it on the Velcro, then a minute fiddling blindly trying to get the damn lightning connector plugged in! I left the connector plugged in while riding. I can't feel any degradation in the tightness of the plug, but 4300 miles is not 43,000 miles, so the jury's still out on that. When not plugged in, I could get about 5 hours of use on full brightness (airplane mode of course) until the battery gave out.

    On cloudy days, ALL the nav apps looked great (screen brightness turned up all the way) but my favorite was definitely Pocket Earth. On sunny days, I found myself using Co-Pilot a lot, except for when I was following a track in which case I'd switch between Gaia and Pocket Earth depending on whether I was on dirt or pavement (Pocket Earth for dirt).

    I wore half-finger gloves nearly all the time so I had no touchscreen issues. I found the half-finger gloves comfortable down to about 55f, though I do use heated grips. A couple of mornings it got colder than that and I wore full-finger Held gloves painted with AnyGlove For Leather which works OK but of course not as good as bare skin.

    Since I don't have a SIM card, and didn't want to bother tethering it to my iPhone, I didn't use the iPad much off the bike for browsing and whatnot, except . . . the Kindle app worked great. Downloaded some books to the iPad before I left home, and was able to use it to read myself to sleep every night.

    If anybody is interested in checking out my ride, you can click on the link in my sig line. There are literally hundreds of pics. But just to give you a taste, here's one taken on the Lander Cutoff Road with the Wind River Range in the distance--

    [​IMG]

    You can see how the iPad sits below the stock GS windscreen. But the Lifeproof Nuud case seems very reliable so I think the iPad would do fine with or without windscreen protection. Might just have to clean off the dust more often.
    #33
  14. WU7X

    WU7X The Old Fart

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    Thanks for the great writeup Ned. Ill be coming back to this a lot.
    #34
  15. rainmaker8

    rainmaker8 Been here awhile

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    I used to do the same thing regarding gloves and touch screen and recently discovered a cheap option until I find something else; for cold riding in dirt I like to retain some feel and dexterity so I got those economical work gloves from the hardware store with rubberized palms and they fit fine inside my old worn out motocross gloves with fingertips already worn open (good set of gloves stowed in back pack to swap out when the first pair get wet) and to my surprise it worked on the touch screen. Now I want to refine the combo as any other applied coatings simply wore off other gloves after a few rides.

    #35
  16. Dirtnadvil

    Dirtnadvil Long timer

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    I have a silly question regarding the iPad. Does an iPad 2 or 4 have built in gps or is it necessary to use some sort of external GPS antenna? Thanks.....John
    #36
  17. XR750

    XR750 Been here awhile

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    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but to my knowledge only the wi-fi equipped iPads have GPS.
    #37
  18. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Nope. I think all iPads have the ability to connect to WiFi don't they?

    Anyway, the iPads that have GPS chips built-in are the ones that are able to receive data. Apple calls these "cellular". For the WiFi-only iPads, if you want to use them for navigation you need to buy a Garmin GLO GPS/GLONASS Receiver or similar product and pair it to the iPad using Bluetooth.
    #38
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  19. XR750

    XR750 Been here awhile

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    Drone, you are correct. I had it bass-akwards. All receive wi-fi and only the cellular versions have GPS chips.
    #39
  20. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer

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    Ok, I looked at all the links to the app sites you posted and I know you said you don't use routes or tracks much but you do use them. I can see no reference in any of these apps the ability to load routes or tracks. Galileo does say it will download tracks but nothing of importing them. I use downloaded tracks a lot, can you save me some app download and learning curve time and tell me if any of these can import tracks for use?

    I really dislike loading apps to my phone or iPad and then having to delete them because they do not do what I need. I never trust that they are completely gone. :baldy

    Thanks in advance.

    Edit: I found it, Galileo does support importing kml, khz and gpx files.
    But still if you have any comments on this I would appreciate hearing them.
    #40