GPS is not an app -- it's a function of the phone's hardware.
Originally Posted by hatchmt
The OP's question is "does GPS use data", not does GPS require data.
My Tracks will use data if it's available, just as Google Maps uses data w/ the GPS. Even the GPS Status app will use data. Any time the GPS is activated, it'll try to refresh the A-GPS data over the internet (to get faster acquisition). No, it doesn't use the internet for "fine" location finding, per se, but it downloads almanac data based on your general location (which may be found using the internet or using cell tower location finding) to predict where satellites will be for faster GPS acquisition (as josh995 explained).
The GPS itself functions fine w/out data as you said, but if you have a data connection available and turned on, data *will* be used by the app. How much is dependent upon what you're doing. Maps can pull lots of data (if not cached locally), but a simple app that only displays lat/long data will still pull a very small amount of data for A-GPS.
It's true that A-GPS, if enabled, will pull down a little data, but it's not necessary
...after all, stand-alone GPS devices (not in a phone) don't/can't use A-GPS and they still work.
It's the app using the data, not the GPS. If you pan around in Google maps with the GPS off
it's still going to pull down data to fill in the new areas with detail...but that has nothing to do with the GPS, it's because different areas are being revealed -- by your finger
. (So, if asked "Do fingers use data?" should we answer "Yes"?) When Google Maps re-centers the map on the position provided by GPS (from satellites) it needs to download data to fill in detail for the new areas...but it's not the GPS that uses that data -- it's the app.
That "it's the app using the data, not the GPS", isn't a trivial hair-splitting distinction, and it's not just semantics
; here's an example: I know more than one non-tech person who didn't know that GPS functionality (in a phone) would work even in an area without cell coverage. One asked me, "How did you track your hike if there wasn't a cell signal? Oh really? That's why I was nervous going off trail, because I didn't think I could use the GPS without cell coverage."
What's GPS functionality in a phone without
data? It's a way to track your position and distance and speed, etc. It's a way to set waypoints -- including where you started so you can find your way back -- all without any use of cellular data. It's basically anything that a stand-alone GPS is and does.
But if the OP's question was: "Does using map and navigation apps
use data?" the answer would be "They sure do!"
(Now...if someone says that "GPS" is a synonym
for "map and navigation app", well..."No, it isn't" -- even if that's what the OP really