External GPS devices and iOS 6

I received a number of inquires from CloudAhoy users asking whether there would be any impact on CloudAhoy after upgrading to Apple’s iOS 6.

The answer: it depends on whether you are using an external GPS device or not.  If you use an external GPS I would advise against upgrading to iOS 6.  There seems to be a bug in Apple iOS 6  related to communication with external GPS devices.

I have tested CloudAhoy running under iOS 6 with these external GPS devices: GNS 5870 MFI, Dual 150, Garmin GLO and Garmin GDL-39.  I have used iPad and iPhone devices.  With every one of these devices there have been cases in which the flights were only partially captured.  The symptom is that after tapping the Start button with an external GPS, CloudAhoy displays a green GPS light indicating a good GPS signal, but sometimes the accuracy deteriorated in flight, e.g., displaying a yellow light, and the data is not captured.

If you are using iOS 6 with CloudAhoy and with an external GPS device, the following workaround seems to work, but I don’t have enough statistics to tell whether it always does.

Before a flight:
– Close all the apps
– Settings –> General –> Reset –> Reset Location & Privacy
– Make sure the external GPS is connected via bluetooth.
– Start CloudAhoy.  Tap “Start”.   Then tap OK to “CloudAhoy would like to use your current location”.

If you are using your iPhone or iPad’s internal GPS, CloudAhoy will work equally well in iOS 6 as it did in iOS 5. Specifically, CloudAhoy is not affected by Apple’s new Maps program – it still uses the same mapping technology it used in iOS 5.
10/17/2012 addition:
The workaround above does not always work.  Other aviation software vendors have published their own workarounds (e.g., ForeFlight, WingX), but it’s my understanding that these workarounds are not fail safe either.  As I have indicated in one of the comments, I am now flying without an external GPS, and waiting for Apple to fix this.

36 comments on “External GPS devices and iOS 6

  1. I recorded an instrument student’s flight on Satuday using a Dual GPS and an IOS 6 iPad. It only recorded half the flight just as you noted. I never monitor CA during a lesson, so I can’t know if the app showed any issues.

  2. I hate to say this, but when I fly I now I use only the internal GPS. All the external GPS devices (I’ve got most of them) are collecting dust. Eagerly waiting for a fix from Apple.

    • Chuck, as you noted, I did a short flight with Cloudahoy. It worked fine for that flight. I had your program loaded onto my new ipad mini. Prior to that flight, I had no problems with either of my two flight programs, Anywhere Map or WingXpro7. After that flight neither of those two programs nor the map program that came with the mini would recognize my Dual Gps.

      I have an ipad 2 that I used before I purchased the mini. The ipad 2 has iOs 5. There was no problem recognizing the Dual Gps by the ipad 2, so I concluded that the Dual was functioning properly and that there was a problem in the mini. The mini did receive GPS info that was fed into Dual’s Status Tool but nothing else would recognize the GPS info. From what you have noted here, the problem does lie in iOs 6.

      After much frustration, I finally went to the Reset section of the mini and picked out the Reset Network Settings to see if that was the problem. Scared the hell out of me because the screen went dark for a couple of minutes and I thought I had messed up the mini. Eventually mini came back to life and worked fine. All gps related programs recognized the Dual GPS.

      The mini fits nicely on the yoke of my Archer II so I will be very happy when Apple gets this problem resolved. Your program is great and I appreciate the fact that the price is so low (free?). It seems to be well thought out and well developed. Although it is not a necessary tool, like a lot of things in aviation, it is a nice to have tool.

      Until Apple gets the GPS problem resolved in iOS 6, I will use your program on my ipad 2 with iOS 5 and continue to rave about your program to my fellow pilots.

      Mike Ryan
      1977 Archer II
      1800 hours flight experience.

  3. This seems to affect all external GPSes, included Bad Elf and Garmin GLO. Thanks for the workaround; I’m flying a bunch of IFR tonight and it will be nice to have this back for situation awareness! Hopefully Apple fixes this one soon…

  4. The “workaround” has not worked for me with Dual XGPS150. Internal is better, but things are nowhere as good as before the update to iOS 6.

  5. The connection issue for external bluetooth GPS receiver to iOS 6.0 devices is fixed in iOS 6.1 Beta (tested via Dual XGPS 150 + iPod Touch 4).

    • Has anyone else tried to update their IOS 6 and see the issue being fixed? I am using my ipod that has IOS 5 to track my flights with Garmin GLO these days. Will be trying the update on my iphone soon.

      • Apple released yesterday iOS 6.0.1. The release notes did not mention the external GPS problem, so I don’t know if it was fixed. You can upgrade your device and see if it helps.

        Apple also released yesterday iOS 6.1 beta, to developers. It’s not accessible to you unless you’re an Apple developer. There are no release notes, so I can’t tell if they fixed the problem. This weekend + Monday I’ll be flying using both iOS 6.0.1 and 6.1/beta devices + external GPSs, and report.

      • the connection issue is not fixed in 6.0.1. The 6.1 should have fixed it (based on the test with 6.1 beta) but the release date for 6.1 is unknown for now.

  6. No improvement with IOS 6.0.1. Track information is good but speed and altitude way off and it will record 2 hours or more then always hang before arriving at destination. using Dual XGPS 150A.

  7. I flew today for about an hour using ios6 and a dual 150 external gps and it captured 95% of my flight. This was my first time using it and it seems pretty neat as long as it will continue to work.

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  9. I use the iPad 3 and the Stratus. I haven’t had an issue with losing connectivity, though I’ve also not tested within CA. Using ForeFlight and the Stratus, I’ve had very few issues even with the iOS 6, so I’m not sure it is the GPS, or the BlueTooth as the Stratus uses WIFI to communicate to the iPad. I plan to test once the icing risk goes away here in New England.

  10. Hi Eric. The iOS bug is in the Location Services module, responsible for feeding GPS data from internal or external GPS to the running apps. The interface between ForeFlight and Stratus is proprietary, and iOS’s Location Services are not involved. Hence, the bug does not affect the Stratus users.

    Note that CloudAhoy does not support Stratus.

  11. when you listed the workaround – e.g.
    Before a flight:
    – Close all the apps
    – Settings –> General –> Reset –> Reset Location & Privacy
    – Make sure the external GPS is connected via bluetooth.
    – Start CloudAhoy. Tap “Start”. Then tap OK to “CloudAhoy would like to use your current location”.

    What did you mean by “Close all the apps”?
    did you mean remove the from the app history recently used list – accessed by double clicking the home button?

    My history list is quite long – perhaps you were meaning – remove CloudAhoy from the history list
    ( or were you meaning remove ForeFlight and the BadElf app also? )

  12. Hi David,

    After reading on the web, reading CloudAhoy users’ emails and trying for myself several ways of working around the bug, I know of only one reliable algorithm for solving the problem. None of the others worked for me. Here goes:

    1. Check which iOS you’re on.
    2. If 5.x, go to step 4.
    3. If 6.0, wait a few days, then go to step 1 above.
    4. Go fly with your external GPS.


  14. I have done two recent flights from the Boston Area to the NYC area in both a Baron and a TBM850 using IOS 6.0.2 on the IPAD Mini and Dual GPS150 with no anomalies noted. Will continue to evaluate and have an upcoming PBI-SFO trip in early January.

  15. Using an iPhone on OS 6.0.1, my two flights on January 7 and 18 revealed no anomalies. Though the GPS was deemed “unreliable” by CloudAhoy, the debrief was accurate enough and the information was presented was useful. So far, so good!

  16. Thanks for all the comments. I see that 6.1 is available. I will update my iPhone from 6.0.1 tonite. Was considering buying the Bad Elf GPS, since Cloud Ahoy also deems gps as ‘poor’.
    Altitude is typically reported low, and take-offs/ landings are generally off the runway by 50 ft or more, making centerline performance debrief difficult.
    Should I go ahead and buy the Bad Elf or wait till all issues are resolved?

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  18. Flew with my new Iphone running 6.1.3 today. I use an external bluetooth GPS. Dual GPS150A. Worst data collection yet. Have always had a problem with altitude accuracy.
    Today, my altitude was never within 500ft. In fact, the data shows me initially taxiing at 1400 below mean sea level. Landings are shown before I make my turn from base to final.
    And everyone wonders why Apple stock is falling like a rock. Did anyone feel the ground shake real hard? Oh never mind, it’s just Steve Jobs spinning 10,000 RPM in his grave.

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