If you’re an iPhone owner, it appears that you don’t need to purchase a 3G model of the iPad if you want to use it on the go.
Not only can you share your iPhone’s data connection with the iPad via personal hotspot, but the phone will also pass GPS information to the iPad when needed.
I just wanted to post this up quickly, as I was so impressed with it. I’m writing this on the way to the airport in the car and I’ve been using my iPhone’s personal hotspot feature in order to surf on my iPad, despite it being the wifi only model.
As we got closer, I decided to get some directions to make sure we were on track. I launched the iPads maps app, expecting to navigate the old fashioned way without GPS assistance – knowing full well that GPS only comes in the 3G iPad models. Imagine my surprise when my iPad pinpointed exactly where we were on the road.
Apple’s Wi-Fi only iOS devices have had location awareness for years via Wi-Fi location service that rely on identifying MAC addresses of nearby hotspots, and comparing those against a database of where those routers are located.
The location I’m getting on my Wi-Fi only iPad is most certainly not this. It is clear I am being fed GPS information from the phone, at what appears to be an interval of once a minute or so between refreshes (likely they didn’t do real time updating so as to go easy on the phone’s battery).
So far the iPad 2 is making an excellent travel companion, it makes for a fun and easy way to do some reading and get some work done while riding in the car, and is excellent for video blogging and snapping a quick picture for Facebook too.
I plan on putting in some serious time with a few games on the flight tomorrow, so be on the lookout for more travel and gaming related iPad 2 coverage this week.
The Follow Up (3/16/11):
We wanted to take a further look at this feature today, and we can tell you it does work with the first generation iPad as well.
From what we can tell it does seem to react consistently with hotspot triangulation.
The real meat and potatoes of this story is the personal hotspot feature now available with iOS 4.3. It works great on the road and it passes the GPS data quite effectively despite not being in real time.
Try it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.