Maybe You Don’t Need 3G on Your iPad 2?

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

Brian Chen, at Wired, has a piece today that suggests a clever way to avoid having to pay the extra money for a 3G version of the iPad 2 just to get GPS and phone data network capability.  The solution basically involves using your current Smartphone as a wireless hotspot. 

Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

GPS transplant

The Wi-Fi iPad doesn’t have built-in GPS, but if you want to use that beautiful Maps app for navigation, you still don’t need a 3G iPad, so long as you have an iPhone. It turns out that if you hotspot with an iPhone, the connection transfers the GPS to the iPad.

Just connect the iPad to the iPhone’s hotspot, then launch the Maps app, and you’ll see the blue dot tracking your location.

(We’re not sure if this works when hotspotting with an Android phone — if you can confirm, let us know in the comments.)

For the complete article, visit the Wired article here.

There are some questions still.  For example, if the GPS data is being imported by the tethered iPad, can it be used by other nav programs instead of the Maps app?  I’m betting so, but I need to hear from somebody with the gear who is willing to experiment with it.  My best sources for iPad info are Jeff Siegel at ActiveCaptain, Christine Kling at Write on the Water (an amazing writer/sailor/geek), and my friend Ben Ellison at Panbo.

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Posted by Tom

Tom Tripp is the owner of OceanLines LLC, the publisher of OceanLines and founder of Marine Science Today. He is an award-winning marine journalist, science writer and long-time public communications specialist. His PR career and much of his writing stems from the fact that he loves to explain stuff. It all began when he and his brother Mark threw all of Mom's tomatoes at the back wall of the house. . .


Jeffrey Siegel

Yeah, it looks like iOS 4.3 will do this. I haven’t tried it myself and I’m not convinced of the value. You’d need a $20/month tethering option on the iPhone to make it work. The 3G option is $130 or so meaning the “savings” will be eaten up in less than the first year.

I still think it’s a better idea to get the 3G version and either enable it if you need the service, or turn it off and use it WiFi from something else. Especially on a boat, this will give you an iPad that has a real GPS and doesn’t need any other connectivity to provide positional references to all the wonderful navigation products available.

Very good point, Jeff. Maybe this works as a “workaround” for someone who didn’t get a 3G version? Might also be an option for someone who has a rooted Android device (obligatory disclaimer: “rooting” a device may or may not be legal; that’s up to to you find out and live with) and who can tether it without a problem. My Android X on Verizon Wireless can tether without a fee, but I haven’t tried doing so with anything from AppleWorld.