After the Apple Maps debacle (which still hasn't been totally fixed), lots of iOS users were scrambling to find alternatives to Apple's hugely flawed mapping and navigation app. Garmin is a well-known player in this space, with a plethora of GPS-enabled mapping apps for all sorts of uses -- which is great as long as your device has a GPS receiver. But what about owners of the iPad mini, or iPod touch?
Garmin's GLO is a stand-alone GPS receiver that connects to your iOS device via Bluetooth, giving your GPS-less iPad or iPod navigational capabilities. At just over 6 ounces, and half the size of a deck of cards, the GLO is easy to carry, and the rechargeable battery packs about 12 hours of juice, which you can top off via USB or the included car adapter.
Pairing the GLO to my iPad mini was a snap. Once everything was charged and connected, I fired up Garmin's Navigon app, and got turn-by-turn directions from GLO's GPS connections. Speaking of connections, GLO is the first wireless GPS receiver to work with both standard U.S. GPS satellites, and Russia's GLONASS network of 24 additional satellites. Garmin touts GLONASS as being perfect for urban environments and other places where sightlines to the sky are limited.
The GLO connects to your device via Bluetooth, and gives you turn-by-turn directions in Garmin's apps, like Navigon USA, shown here, sold separately for $49.99.
On a windowsill in a dense San Francisco neighborhood notorious as a GPS black hole, the GLO still hadn't made a satellite connection after 25 minutes, something Garmin describes as taking up to "a few minutes." Once I took the GLO outside, however, it connected in less than two minutes. Using Garmin's Navigon U.S. West app (sold separately for $29.99) I easily navigated San Francisco streets from my Wi-Fi-only iPad mini, easily calling up driving directions and business information from Navigon. On a three-hour charge, Garmin claims that the GLO gets up to 12 hours of use. I was able to use it extensively (or is that excessively?) for several days.
The bottom line. If you've got a device without onboard GPS, Garmin's GLO can keep you on the right path. We just wish it included a nav app for the $99 price tag.
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