Thursday, July 22, 2010

stupid iPad/Pre/GPS trick

[Update 15 August: Verizon apparently put an end to my fun. Now when I try to turn on Mobile Hotspot, I get a message that says my plan doesn't include internet sharing.]

I have a new Apple iPad, a new Palm Pre Plus, and an ancient GPS that's falling apart physically and has old maps. So here's my way of using the two new devices as a substitute for the old GPS:

The Verizon Palm Pre has a feature called "Mobile Hotspot." This connects to the internet via the usual mobile phone 3G connection, and then extends that connection via Wi-Fi to up to five other devices.

The iPad has GPS hardware.

The iPad finds my location via GPS, but can't show maps without an internet connection. That's where the Pre comes in. I fire up Mobile Hotspot, connect the iPad to it, and start Google Maps on the iPad. It works like a charm. It finds my location pretty quickly, and can either just show my current location, or draw me directions.


It's not an exact substitute for a regular automotive GPS, since you can't really drive and operate it at the same time. So if you're travelling solo, it's not really for you. Two adults required, or at least a kid old enough to run the iPad and read the map. No turn-by-turn voice directions.

It would also work with the iPad's built-in 3G (if you have one of those models, which I do), but that would require monthly payments of $15, or more likely $25, to AT&T.

The Pre also has GPS and Google Maps, and essentially does all of this on just one device. However, the big screen on the iPad makes it much more pleasant.

The Pre has "VZ Navigator," which does turn-by-turn directions and traffic reports and points-of-interest like a regular GPS, but that's $10 a month.

It drains the battery on my Pre like nobody's business.


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