Will Verizon cripple iPhone aGPS? I

No, Verizon isn't going to cripple iPhone aGPS

Verizon has a long history of crippling aGPS on other smartphones so it's certainly understandable that people are concerned about the Verizon iPhone and its ability to access location. For years BlackBerry users have struggled to unlock their GPS on Verizon. Windows Mobile users have suited up for war in efforts to free their GPS from Verizon. Most recently the Palm Pre Plus had aGPS locked out for users who didn't subscribe to VZ Navigator. It's a long, sad, ugly history, so we get it -- you're worried about your Verizon iPhone Maps, your check-in apps like 4Square and Gwolla, your Facebook Places and restaurant finders, and your turn-by-turn navigation that doesn't have VZ in its name.

But here's the thing -- none of those locked down GPS chips were on phones made by Apple. Just take a look at the Verizon iPhone -- no Verizon logo sticker, no pre-installed, indelible Verizon CrApps, no indication Verizon had any input on the iPhone whatsoever beyond ensuring it made calls on their network.

So while we won't know for sure until the TiPb nation gets a ton of Verizon iPhones in hand and puts them through their full location paces, I can't imagine a scenario where Apple and their App Store ecosystem lets that happen. (Even if Verizon demanded it, Apple would just escalate to Steve, and I don't think even Big Red could take that level of hurt.) Either way we're keeping track of the aGPS functionality in our Verizon iPhone Forum so jump in there or leave a comment below and let us know what you think

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Will Verizon cripple iPhone aGPS? I


If they crippled it, I would march into the Verizon store and return it. Then, I would go to At&t. Verizon is better here, but not by that much to cripple location based apps... that is a lot of the iPhone appeal. They don't cripple the gps on my droid, so Im not concerned.

I doubt this will happen too. Part of what happened with verizon's crippling of the aGPS for the pre plus was also a fault of google not supporting their maps architecture. Verizon was messing with it and not supporting it because the VZ navigator software integrates pretty well with the os when you pay for it. With the iPhone, the maps app is integrated with the os and nothing else. Personally doubt that verizon would do this.

Yup, they will not cripple it, they are not morons, just out for profit. All android phones gps works great on verizon so it is just the way of the future. Even non smart phones will have their gps chips unlocked going forward.

This is a post about a non-issue, look at all of the Android phones and tell me which ones have crippled aGPS. Why would one of their flagship phones be any different.

Escalate to Steve? The man is sick, on medical leave, give it a rest please. There are more important thinks for Steve to do right now than worry about aGPS and Verizon.

It's a reference to a story about AT&T when AT&T management threatened to escalate to their bosses if Apple didn't do what they wanted and Apple simply said then they'd escalate to Steve. AT&T shut up at that point.
So, um, yeah. Relax :)

The Pre Plus doesn't have a crippled aGPS chip. The aGPS was being crippled at Verizon's servers. So really it all depends on which switch they flip or of course the other option where people install the bypass patch. If Verizon is going to cripple the iPhone aGPS, that's where they'll do it, server side rather than in the device itself.
As for Verizon pre-installs, it looks like they're going to get VZ Navigator and V CAST on there and that's really all the pre-installs Verizon cares about and in most cases the only ones that ever take up noticeable space from the start. All the Verizon Blackberries I've seen have icon links to Verizon services "pre-installed" or have them pushed out to the device when a new service is made available but all those icons are concealable either through simply setting them to be hidden or tossing them into a folder somewhere out of site. None of them take up any more space than a standard web link. And that logo isn't on every device Verizon offers outside the iPhone. There is was plenty of precedents for them easily giving up the logo on the iPhone.
So from the reports I've heard so far, Verizon actually got everything they wanted.

No they didn't. They were not able to pre-install software. The iPhone on VZW is completely untouched by them other than the CDMA calling and data. Navigator is not installed. Besides, allowing them to pre-install apps would require a rework of iTunes syncing. When you sign on another AppleID, the device will remove all purchases (free or not). It's an authorized device thing. So even if Verizon pre-installed an app, it would be removed the moment you synced your device because you can't sync more than one library.

Verizon hasn't crippled aGPS in years.
Since the release of the Storm (nov '08), every BB on VZW had "unlocked" GPS/aGPS that worked with 3rd party apps like Google Maps, Garmin, etc
The Android devices, all "unlocked" work with Google Maps, Copilot, etc.
Why would they lock the iPhone's aGps/GPS, now, after all this time?

Havnt crippled agps in years, Lol ,unless your a pre plus or pixi plus user and don't pay for there vz navigator. Agps does not work in any webos devices. Only if you pay extra. Its a well documented incedent that has been proven so many times. Verizon is greedy and will never get me to leave sprint for there bs

SO TRUE about the Pre. I had one w/randomly WORKING GPS for about 10 months. When it stopped working, I called Verizon, an hour later they agreed it was a hardware problem & mailed me a a new phone. NO GPS. This time when I called, no sympathy. They offered to sell me a new phone, they suggested I pay for VNav. I just discovered the VNav workaround. Hopefully I don't need it b4 the new one arrives

The aGps on the verizon iPhone is NOT locked in any way.
I've been tinkering with this phone since about 4 this afternoon
Since fed ex delivered it.
Waze works fine, google maps works fine.
And I know it's cellular approximation of my location it's the gps.
I know the difference.
It's wide open for whatever app you want to use.

As it turns out, it IS crippled. The location services in the Verizon iPhone 4 tend to weigh the highly questionable WiFi and cell tower locations more heavily than the highly accurate GPS. As a result, if you walk down the street using a program like RunMeter or RunKeeper and you have WiFi and "cellular data" turned on, the map will show you walking up to the front door of every house that has a WAP. If you turn off WiFi and cellular data (Settings > General > Network) you'll find that the Verizon iPhone 4 accurately tracks you right down the street.
I've verified this on two CDMA iPhone 4's and have verified it with the folks at RunMeter, who have tried it on CDMA vs. GSM iPhones themselves. I've walked the same route with an AT&T iPhone 3G and a Verizon iPhone 4 and watched the iPhone 4 drift as I walk by houses with WiFi while the GSM iPhone 3G shows exactly where I am. I've run multiple running apps on multiple phones over the same route.
GPS on the CDMA iPhones is broken and for some reason nobody is talking about it. I've informed both Verizon and Apple to no avail.