Proctele apps in the App Store

Proctele apps in the App Store
Click the picture to see Proctele apps in Apple's App Store

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Device's Positioning

We all know that GPS is a positioning system based on satellites and that it's American. But not everyone knows about GLONASS. It's a Russian satellite based positioning system. From iPhone 4S onwards, all Apple's mobile devices with GPS, also have GLONASS. The devices use both in parallel; they're on the same micro-chip. Having two systems gives better positioning than having one. Being Russian GLONASS works best in Russia, but since 2011 it's truly global, like GPS.

Another positioning method is iBeacon, which works over short distances. It can help smartphones determine their precise position or context. It uses low-power Bluetooth 4.0 and reaches anywhere between a few centimeters and 450 m / 1500 ft. All Apple Stores in the US have iBeacon devices.

Then there's WiFi, which we all think of simply as wireless Internet, and that's what it is. However WiFi routers have the potential to be used for positioning, if someone like Google cares to build a database of WiFi routers. Google has done that using its mapping cars who have passed many many routers on their endless journeys and taken notes.

Finally there's the compass, which all iOS products now contain. It's actually a very small magnetometer and it's coupled with an accelerometer. That coupling enables the device to know what direction it's pointing. Proctele's app TCompanion makes use of that to help map-challenged people like myself to find our way.

The inspiration for this blog entry is the wonderful device in the picture - iPad Air 2 - and the WiFi + 3G version has all the above positioning technologies:

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