iPhone 6 GPS Features

GPS and navigation features of Apple's iPhone 6

The large screens on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus paired with improved GPS features make GPS navigation apps more accurate and easier to use than on earlier phones. The iPhone 6 uses a fast and efficient A8 chip. GPS apps are notorious for depleting phone batteries, so energy savings anywhere in the system help the iPhone go the distance with GPS activated.

About Assisted GPS

The iPhone 6 has a built-in GPS chip like its predecessors. You don't need to set up the GPS chip on your phone, but you can turn it on or off. The phone uses the GPS chip in conjunction with Wi-Fi networks and nearby cellphone towers to calculate the phone's location. This process of using several technologies to establish location is called assisted GPS.

Smartphone on car dash displaying GPS map

How GPS Works

The Global Positioning System (GPS), which consists of 31 operational satellites in orbit, is maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense. The GPS chip uses a process called trilateration, in which it locates at least three of the possible satellite signals to establish a location.

Although other countries are working on satellites of their own, only Russia has a comparable system called GLONASS. The iPhone GPS chip can access GLONASS satellites when needed.

Weakness of GPS

The iPhone can't always receive a GPS signal. If the phone is in a location that prevents clear access to signals from at least three satellites, such as in a building, heavily wooded area, canyon, or among skyscrapers, it relies on nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi signals to establish location. In this situation, assisted GPS has an advantage over stand-alone GPS devices.

If GPS is not working in optimum situations, there are several approaches you can take to fix your iPhone GPS.

Additional Compatible Technologies

The iPhone 6 contains additional sensors that work alone or in conjunction with GPS. These include:

  • Accelerometer to detect motion.
  • Compass used by navigation, outdoor, and hiking apps.
  • Barometer to establish altitude and identify relative elevation changes.
  • Gyroscope.
  • M8 motion coprocessor.

Turning GPS Settings Off and On

GPS on the iPhone can be turned on and off in the Settings app. Tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Turn off all Location Services at the top of the screen or turn Location Services on or off for each app listed at the bottom of the screen.

Location Services includes the use of GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspots, and cell towers to pinpoint your location.

About GPS and Privacy

Many apps want to use your location to pinpoint where you are, but no app can use your data if you haven't given it your permission in the Privacy settings. If you allow websites or third-party apps to use your location, read their privacy policies, terms, and practices to understand how they plan to use your location.

Improvements in the Maps App

The Apple Maps app on the iPhone 6 relies heavily on GPS to function accurately. Each iOS generation provides further improvements in Apple's map environment, following the well-publicized shortcomings of the company's first Maps effort. Apple has continued its acquisition of map and map-related companies to provide better service.

Was this page helpful?