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Navigating with the Waterkaarten app and an iPad

21 May 2024 om 10:16

On our helpdesk, we regularly get comments about not, or not accurately, being able to determine location on an iPad. 

Although Apple is not clear about this, iPad wifi-only models do not have GPS. Only so-called 4G or 5G iPad models have a GPS chip. Those are a lot more expensive. By the way, having a data plan on a 4G or 5G model is not required. GPS is a proprietary signal and does not go over the internet.

Wi-Fi to determine location

Confusingly, an iPad does have the ability to determine location – in many cases. On an iPad wifi-only, Apple uses so-called software-based location determination. They then use nearby wifi networks, among other things, to determine the iPad’s location. This is inaccurate and therefore does not work in areas where there are few or no wifi networks.

Since a lot of our users buy an iPad with wifi only anyway and then expect our app to work properly on that, we offer a fallback solution in the app. You can try sharing your iPhone’s GPS signal with your iPad. To do so, follow these instructions. Unfortunately, this does not always work. 


The downside is that this works on the basis of Bluetooth. Then both devices have to stay close together. Pairing the iPad with the phone’s hotspot does not solve the problem. You then share the internet connection, but not the GPS signal. And as mentioned, a GPS signal does not cross the internet.

If you already have an iPad with wifi only, you probably don’t feel like buying a 4G or 5G variant for a while. Users who have an iPad wifi can extend the iPad with a Bluetooth GPS tracker. We sell these a lot to our users and actually never get any complaints about them.