Does the iPad Have GPS? Can It Function as a GPS Device?

Pinpoint your location with your tablet

Couple in car using ipad with navigation

 Daniel Grill / Getty Images

The cellular iPad model not only gives access to 4G LTE data, it also includes an Assisted-GPS chip, which means it can pinpoint your location as accurately as most GPS devices. Even without this chip, the WiFi version of the iPad can do a good job of locating where you are using WiFi triangulation. This isn't quite as accurate as the A-GPS chip, but you might be amazed at just how accurate it can be at detecting your location. 

Can an iPad Take the Place of a GPS Device?

Absolutely.

The iPad comes with Apple Maps, which is a full-featured mapping service. It combines Apple's mapping system with data from the popular GPS service TomTom. It can also be used hands-free by asking for directions using the Siri voice assistant and listening to the turn-by-turn directions. A recent update also gives Apple Maps access to transit directions, so you can use it as a guide while walking as well as driving.

While Apple Maps was criticized for being a step behind Google Maps when it was first released, it's come a long way in the intervening years. In addition to turn-by-turn directions, Apple Maps pairs with Yelp to give you quick access to reviews when browsing for stores and restaurants. 

One neat feature is the ability to enter a 3D mode in major cities and areas, offering a beautiful view of the city.

Alternatives to Apple Maps

Google Maps is the best alternative to Apple Maps, and it's available for free on the App Store. It has Google Maps Navigation, a feature offering hands-free turn-by-turn directions, which makes Google Maps an excellent GPS system.  

Similar to Apple Maps, you can pull up information about nearby stores and restaurants, including reviews. But what really sets Google Maps apart is Street View. This feature lets you put a pin down on the map and get an actual view of the location as if you were standing on the street. You can even move around like you are driving. This is great for peeking at your destination, so you can actually recognize it when you get there. Street View isn't available in all locations, but if you live in a major city, most of it has probably been mapped. 

Both Apple Maps and Google Maps can plot alternative routes and give out traffic information along the way. One excellent use of both apps is to check your morning work commute to see if rush hour traffic is causing any major delays. 

Waze is also a popular alternative. It uses social information and data collection to give you an accurate depiction of the traffic in your area. You can actually see Waze users on the map, and the app shows you the average traffic speed on major highways and interstates. You can also see information about construction and accidents that may cause delays.

Like Apple Maps and Google Maps, you can use Waze for turn-by-turn directions. But, while it does a fairly good job in this arena, it's not quite up to where Apple and Google are with this feature. Waze is better used for a quick glance at traffic and for driving around your local area rather than for longer trips.