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Old 03-13-2015, 03:55 AM   #1
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Anyone use an Ipad with GPS app for navigation?

Posted this over on IRV2, curious what people are using.


There is sooo much room on the dash of a MH, or for suction cup mount on the side window....was wondering is anyone is using their Ipad for navigation? I have a 7 inch Garmin which works great, but have alway loved Google maps, but really don't like the small screen of the Iphone. If anyone is using Google maps, or Apple maps for that matter, what are your experiences if you loose data signal? How long will those apps navigate without a cell signal? What about the stand alone apps available, such as the Garmin or I believe Tom-Tom has one also?
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Old 03-13-2015, 04:44 AM   #2
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I have Google Maps on my Android. Not sure if there is a significant difference with the iPad version or not.

I also have a 7" Garmin 760RV, and in my view, it is much more robust for navigation than Google Maps. To be honest, part of the reason might be the smaller screen on the phone has resulted in not really using it much, but I never really regarded it as a good solution.

Plus you don't have as many options for route preferences with Google Maps; you know, quickest/fastest/cheapest route, avoiding dirt roads, toll roads, etc. Google Maps has some of that functionality, but nowhere near the Garmin GPS.

You can use either for sure, but I prefer the dedicated Garmin GPS with lifetime map updates and traffic. And I have interfaced the Garmin GPS with my Android, and I can display weather radar on the Garmin GPS via feed from the Android. Not 100% accurate, but a lot better than wetting your finger and sticking it into the wind.

You can view traffic cams too, but that option is kind of lame. In reality, you need your right-seat "navigator" to fiddle with those options as you need to concentrate on driving... trying to manipulate all of that data is almost overload, and most certainly a distraction from the driver's perspective.
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Old 03-13-2015, 01:08 PM   #3
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I have the Rand McNally RVND 7730 LM. At 12 feet 9 inches I have to be careful with the height and the apps for my iPhone and iPad are a little questionable in the routings. A perfect example is whenever I go to a particular campground in Wytheville, VA the iPad and iPhone always tried routing me down a dirt farmers road.

I also like the ability to plan my trip on my laptop, without regard to route, and then port the trip over to the GPS and let it plan the specifics based on my vehicle characteristics such as height, weight, length, amount of propane on board etc...

Like FW, I can also use the phones wifi ability to overlay weather onto the GPS route and I do agree with him that this type of fidgeting should be done by the co-pilot while driving. With this feature I like to see the wind speed overlay to get an estimate of knuckle color at days end.
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Old 03-13-2015, 01:20 PM   #4
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Here are a couple of examples for the Garmin Smartlink that couples the phone to the 760RV GPS. Smartlink is Garmin's iPhone/Android app that provides a means to connect the GPS to the internet for additional data:




You can display traffic cameras on your route. They are not streaming video, but rather static photos. But at least you can see if there is any congestion along the route. Generally though, they are only found along routes in larger cities.




Here is the weather overlay. You can drill-down into higher resolution screens, but weather is not overlayed at the highest resolutions. So there are a few limitations. But again, better than nothing.

You need a 7" screen to display this stuff - otherwise it would be too small.

I suppose though you could find equivalent applications on an iPad.

Truthfully, I see an application for the iPad as being an adjunct to give you additional data (displaying weather radar, etc), used in conjunction with a GPS, rather than replacing the GPS as a whole. I am sure you could also find additional apps, such as cameras, etc.

And someone posted here a couple of months ago about an app called "iExit" which I downloaded (don't remember who it was, but thanks). I have found it to be extremely useful. An iPad could display that kind of data.

So I am thinking that use each system where it excels at... the GPS for navigation, and an iPad/smart phone for ancillary functionality. To me, that would be better than trying to stuff everything into a single monitor, which means you (or hopefully your co-pilot) would have to constantly swap what you see on the display screen.

That is the main reason I went with a separate GPS display unit rather than upgrading my stereo for navigation. I keep the camera on the stereo display and navigation on the GPS. The cab looks a bit "crowded" with all those displays, but it is easier to manage.
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Old 03-13-2015, 02:11 PM   #5
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Last year I rediscovered the iExit mobile app ( iExit ). Usually the navigator will use that on my iPad figuring out our next stop (be it rest area, food, fuel, etc.). Since I just upgraded the RV's radio to include Nav we'll probably leave that programmed with the ultimate destination and use iExit for all the stops in-between.

On our last long trip to FL over the Christmas break we used iExit in combination with Google maps on my phone which worked out really well. I'm looking forward to using the new nav features in the new radio.
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Old 03-13-2015, 02:53 PM   #6
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All good stuff....Dave, our Hurricane is 12' 8" tall.....have you actually had problems with low crossings yet? Lots of flat land here in TX, so height has not been an issue yet.


I was going to look at that Rand McNally RV GPS app though....looks like good RV routing stuff on that. I just love the big screen of the Ipad, and thought more people would utilize it.
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Old 03-13-2015, 03:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tytlfamily View Post
All good stuff....Dave, our Hurricane is 12' 8" tall.....have you actually had problems with low crossings yet? Lots of flat land here in TX, so height has not been an issue yet.

I was going to look at that Rand McNally RV GPS app though....looks like good RV routing stuff on that. I just love the big screen of the Ipad, and thought more people would utilize it.
Sorry up front for the long response and this may be more than you want to know.

I haven't had the Challenger out other than from the Dealer. I do know there is a road that I would normally take to my local Pilot station with my class C that I can no longer take with the class A due to a low (12 foot) one lane bridge. I have noticed when using RV Trip Wizard to plan some routes in my Class C that there were some roads that the C would clear but I would have issues with in the Challenger. Also, coming back from Florida in January I recall that due to some overpass construction on I95 in SC there were some temporary height restrictions of about 12 feet 3 inches. They did have height sensors out in enough time to give the truckers notice and the solution was an off and on approach at the respective exit to bypass the restricted area.

One thing I will say is that the combo NAV/audio/video system that came in my class C did not fit the bill. In that system I was either a car or a bus and there was no way to enter vehicle characteristics that could impact route planning (e.g. don't use dirt roads) and I had to remove the entire unit from the vehicle to perform a map update. That was a Magnadyne and it was a piece of .... as a navigation system.

Also, the co-pilot is a little perturbed right now because she was wanting to travel down the Natchez Trace this year but that is no longer possible due to both height and length restrictions.

Basically it boils down to route planning. I like the ability to plan the trip by start, POIs, waypoints and destination and then have the RV GPS plan the route based on restrictions. I even go so far as to use the Pilot app to identify locations with RV lanes and parking and plan the fuel stops into the trip.

Two things you may want to consider is the GPS is based off satellites and to use the iPad for navigation you are going to have to depend on a reliable WiFi signal. What happens if you get into an area where your service does not provide WiFi? Also, since the use of WiFi is considered cellular data, does your service allow unlimited data, will they throttle you back after reaching a certain level of data use and if you don't have unlimited what is the charge for going over the plan allowance.
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Old 03-13-2015, 03:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov
Two things you may want to consider is the GPS is based off satellites and to use the iPad for navigation you are going to have to depend on a reliable WiFi signal. What happens if you get into an area where your service does not provide WiFi? Also, since the use of WiFi is considered cellular data, does your service allow unlimited data, will they throttle you back after reaching a certain level of data use and if you don't have unlimited what is the charge for going over the plan allowance.
You are mixing your technology metaphors here! LOL

WiFi signals (e.g. access points to local internet connectsion) are never considered part of your cell phone's data plan (unless, of course, if the cell phone is actually providing the WiFi access; e.g. a hotspot).

A WiFi only iPad would not be able to be used on the road unless you can provide a local hotspot (WiFi) connection to the internet (many cell pones can do this). Of course having your phone provide the local hotspot does mean any data used here will count against your phone's data limit.

An iPad with WiFi + Cellular can but even then if you drive in an area with no cell phone coverage the online maps will stop functioning (Google maps does provide a way to download maps to the Google Map app but the trip routing feature doesn't work with downloaded map information). In this case the iPad is using the cellular network directly and does count against the plan's data limit.

iPads with cellular do have a GPS receiver in them (they do make use of WiFi internet connections to make the positioning more accurate--which you can turn off).

For our trip to FL we had no connectivity issues with the iPad (with its cell signal, of course we stuck to interstate freeways for the whole trip).
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Old 03-13-2015, 03:59 PM   #9
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Yes, Jamie is correct, the cellular models of the ipad have a stand alone GPS receiver in them....so if you use a stand alone, or offline GPS software system, you do not need a cell signal. Google maps is designed to use a cell signal, so it does not have to download all the maps onto your iphone or Ipad.
I have pulled the trigger as we speak on the Rand McNally Ipad app.....huge download, as it is downloading all the maps, and essentially it becomes like the stand alone GPS on your dash.

Will up date you guys how it works, but I do not have any long trips planned yet. Gonnna use it around town in the car though!
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Old 03-13-2015, 05:13 PM   #10
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You are mixing your technology metaphors here! LOL
You are correct and I apologize for mixing the metaphors, however, I believe the intent of the message was received. When using the iPad as a GPS every action of the GPS app may constitute a data download (e.g every time you go through an intersection and there is a GPS map refresh etc...) The question that you must ask your service provider is whether this is considered cellular or data?

Not sure about your service but my service considers the iPad a data device subject to a lower monthly access charge than a smart phone or dumb smart phone).

They may have changed but the last time I looked my iPad was classified in the same category as my MiFi modem (same service provider) referred to as a Cellular Data Plan. The MiFi modem is a cellular device, however, any data that is transferred through the device (up or down stream) is considered a data transaction and counted towards my plan's monthly data allowance. When using cellular rather than WiFi on the iPad the same applies, any action that constitutes a upload or download using the cellular service is considered a data action subject to the plans allowances.

In my case I will use, what I consider, the proper tool for the proper job. I will use the GPS for travelling and route planning and the iPad for other items such as email etc...

BTW, thinking about it, you may want to verify some of your state laws. Some states do not allow drivers to have access to or visibility of functioning laptops etc... while driving. Some states, for instance California, also have restrictions on the size of the device and where the device can be positioned within the vehicle. I know folks that got burned in CA because they rented a car and put their GPS in the wrong location on the windshield. Although some of the laws are based on your state of registration, some laws such as use of cell phone etc... are based on the state in which you are travelling rather than where your vehicle is registered. In your state the iPad may be considered a GPS device but in another state it may be considered a tablet or laptop and get you a distracted driving ticket.
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Old 03-13-2015, 06:17 PM   #11
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I have not used an iPad app, but I do use the mapping apps on an iPhone. The Maps and Google Maps apps have lost signal and stopped functioning in the Eastern High Sierras of California. That's when I had to use my trusty old Tom Tom, with it's built-in maps.


I had always used my Tom Tom with a suction cup on the side window when driving my previous two motorhomes. Since the iPhone 5, (and now the big screened iPhone 6 plus), I have been almost using the iPhone apps exclusively, (just because I can Bluetooth into the stereo, for the most part)! However, the iphone/ipad mapping apps have got me into trouble twice with the motorhome by routing me though ridiculous grades.


Most recently, on President's Day weekend it routed me down Montezuma Valley Road,, (S2), into Borrego Springs. And, last June it routed me though the "" bypassing State Highway 120 entering Yosemite at about 9:45 p.m. It was a steep and twisty road with switchbacks, (not fun in a 36' motorhome, pulling a toad, leaving AFTER work)!

Recently purchased a Rand McNally 7720 on Craigslist for $25. I hope it avoids these steep surprises better than the iPad/iPhone Maps app, and Google Maps.


Thank Goodness that the Ford F53 chassis has that "tow mode" engine braking feature! I really exercised it's functionality during those two adventures.
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Old 03-13-2015, 07:53 PM   #12
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Hey Beacher,

I see you are out there where the legislature and law enforcement agencies believe you can see through a toll transponder but not through a GPS unit that is the same size mounted in the same location.

A couple of years ago, on a business trip, my iPhone took me through American Canyon (around the NAPA area). I didn't like some of those roads in a mid-sized rental car. I hate to think about trying to get through there in a 38 foot motor home with toad.

Also, on my last class C's maiden voyage we decided to compare the coach's stock Magnadyne GPS which was set to "bus" mode with the iPhone's GPS on the trip. At one particular intersection the Magnadyne had us make a 90 degree right turn down a relatively decent but narrow road whereas the iPhone wanted us to take a turn of about 120 degrees (would have required a three point turn) to go down an alley to save about 500 feet in travel distance.

For me, the iPhone works well as a GPS when I am on a business trip in a rental car and I forgot to pack my portable Garmin.

I believe, and this is my opinion only, the piece of mind in knowing, with some level of certainty, that you will be routed in a manner that is appropriate for your rig's configuration is well worth the cost of a dedicated RV GPS system. In my mind 345.00 for a dedicated RV unit is a small price to pay.
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Old 03-13-2015, 08:29 PM   #13
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Well, I have been running errands around town today, and had the Ipad with the Rand McNally app running! So far, so good....has a whole slew of warnings it can give you, speed limit, upcoming speed limit changes, sharp turns/curves, winding road. Has traffic and weather overlays, and gives you the forecast at your present location, or destination also. Simple routing around town worked great, and never lost a signal.....
RV setup includes choosing Class A, A W/Tag Axle, Class B, Class, C, Super C, 5 er, pop up trailer, toy hauler, and then how big....length, height, how many propane tanks, width, and total length with trailer. Lots to digest, and never had a dedicated RV GPS before.
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Old 03-13-2015, 09:10 PM   #14
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I love this "GPS" video:

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Old 03-13-2015, 09:44 PM   #15
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hey beacher, where exactly is that road? I wanted to see if the Rand McNally app gives any warning.....if it did though, what would the warning be? it is not restricted for motorhomes....so I guess just advising that it is a steep/windy road? Can you tell me that route you drove?
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:05 PM   #16
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...RV setup includes choosing Class A, A W/Tag Axle, Class B, Class, C, Super C, 5 er, pop up trailer, toy hauler, and then how big....length, height, how many propane tanks, width, and total length with trailer. Lots to digest, and never had a dedicated RV GPS before.
Looks like the app's setup includes the functionality that is included in my RVND 7730.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:09 PM   #17
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hey beacher, where exactly is that road? ...Can you tell me that route you drove?
I was going to meet a great camping group, (the SCCAMPERS), at the Thousand Trails RV Resort called Yosemite Lakes. It's located at 31191 Hardin Flat Rd, Groveland, CA 95321.

I took the route that the iPhone's MAPs app GPS provided. It routed me from the city of Modesto we took the 132 to the 49, and then the 120. The road in the video is called "The Old Priest Grade", and it's located at the West end of the 120, after the town of Moccasin, and before Groveland.

The normal 120 route is very twisty and windy but not as steep, (and the Old Priest Grade bypasses that section), so perhaps the GPS thought it was doing me a favor?


Excerpt from the Moccasin Wikipedia page:

Immediately east of town, State Route 120 climbs from about 910 feet (280 m) AMSL elevation to about 2,450 feet (750 m) at Priest Station, California, over a distance of six miles (10 km). Old Priest Grade, a narrower road and predecessor to the current route of SR120, covers the same change in elevation over about 2.7 miles (4.3 km). It is common to see vehicles with smoking brakes descending the old grade.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:14 PM   #18
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Hey Dave, yes I believe they basically have emulated your GPS and incorporated it into the Ipad.......I have been comparing the features and they appear to be about the same.


Beacher....I have been playing with routes through and around Yosemite with booth my Rand Mcnally app, and the Good Sam RV route planner on line......i can't get it to give any kind of mountainous warning...I guess you either just have to be familiar with the terrain, or ask advice from others.....as a newb Class A driver, not sure I would feel comfortable on that road right now !!
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:25 PM   #19
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I wonder if the Truckers Atlas RM sells shows steep gradient roads....some of our first long trips we want to go west, so i am interested in planning like this.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:28 PM   #20
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...I have been comparing the features and they appear to be about the same.
I have read about the Rand McNally iPad app on other message boards. Apparently, there is no way to update the maps, (or is there)?

Jerkiness of map/graphics movement with WiFi only iPads, (using a Bluetooth GPS pod, or tethered to an iPhone to use it's gps), and the map updating question are what other users complain about.
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