Apple embraces India’s GPS alternative NavIC in iPhone 15 Pro

Apple has extended support for NavIC to some of the new iPhone 15 models, seemingly complying with New Delhi’s push to adopt India’s home-grown alternative to the GPS navigation system.

On the tech specs page of the iPhone 15 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple says that the new models support NavIC. This is the first time Apple has added support for NavIC to any of its iPhone models. However, the company has not specified which features will be included in the deployment. An Apple spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The standard iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Plus variants don’t support NavIC, according to their official tech specs.

Navigation with Indian Constellation, which became operational in India in 2018, is India’s audacious attempt at building an independent standalone navigation satellite system. Developed by India’s space research organization ISRO, NavIC provides accurate positioning and timing information over India and the surrounding region.

Through over half a dozen satellites, NavIC extends coverage to whole of India’s land mass.

Its applications span across transportation (terrestrial, aerial and marine), location-based services, personal mobility, resource monitoring, surveying and geodesy, scientific research, time dissemination and synchronization, as well as safety-of-life alert dissemination, according to ISRO.

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Last year, India began pushing smartphone makers to add support for NavIC within a few quarters, Reuters reported then, citing government documents. Many smartphone manufacturers were concerned that the necessary hardware changes would slightly increase the cost of the phones.

The global iPhone 15 Pro models also support NavIC, according to official specs pages. Scores of smartphones — including Xiaomi’s Mi 11X, 11T Pro, OnePlus Nord 2T, and Realme 9 Pro — support NavIC.