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Will OSX Lion's location services (or applications that use the CoreLocation API) make use of a connected USB GPS dongle? If not out-of-the-box, are there any particular GPS modules that can be configured to do so (either through a system tweak, or custom software package)?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

According to this Apple knowledge-base article:

Your approximate location is determined using information from local Wi-Fi networks....

Which I would read as a "no" (that's not the end of the sentence, but it doesn't mention anything about other hardware).

You could leave some feedback requesting that this be in a future release. As far as I can tell, the API wouldn't need to change for them to add more devices – much like it can use other devices in iOS. (Whether they'd be likely to do this, of course, I have no idea.)

Of course, one could certainly write software to gather location data and provide it as a service to one's own apps. But I'm guessing you want it to be used within the CoreLocation framework (a.k.a. "location services"), which would pretty much require Apple to support it – or some extensive hacking.

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Yeah, my hope was to allow for the use of a USB GPS device for applications that made use of the Core Location API to give them a more precise position. Looks like my only hope is to either hack together some kind of dependency injection, hope someone else does, or wait to see if Apple ever decides to integrate a GPS chipset on their non-iOS products. – Wilco Apr 30 '12 at 17:58

I don't believe so. As far as I know, Core Location only uses WiFi networks to find its location.

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Core location most definitely supports Bluetooth and USB connected GPS hardware. Although I have not found any Apple documentation for GPS hardware developers, see: Location Awareness Programming, GPS units such as the BadElf and DUAL come with software that pairs the GPS hardware with the iOS device. From that point CoreLocation works transparently. CoreLocation can get location information from the internet, from cell tower triangulation, from an internal GPS (if it has one), or from an external GPS.

I'm trying to figure out to what extent my program can tell which of these data sources it's using.

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