Geofencing for ios — keep app open?

Can’t seem to find a clear answer to this simple question. I have an automation that uses geofencing based on my location.
On iOS, do I have to leave the ST app running in the background in order for it to sense moving inside/outside the geofence boundary?

If it must be running in background, what can I do to make sure the app stays open (in the background) for each of my family members that might inadvertently close it?

I use the iPhone geofencing and it runs irrespective of if the app is open or not.

They need to be signed in with their Samsung account. As long as they do not sign out of the app… they should be good to go.


I had the same issue running ST on an iPhone 7. I needed to keep the app open for geofencing to recognize my arrival. Departure worked fine for some reason. My wife has an iPhone 11 and it worked flawlessly. When I upgraded to a iPhone 14, it work fine as well. I suspect that it may have something to do with older iOS versions. Note: Apple has ended support for the iPhone 7 and older, so you won’t be able to upgrade your older iPhone software to iOS 16

@jkp Are you saying they can close the app after logging into it and the SmartThings app will continue to report proximity Home/Away?

That’s the way it works with my iPhone 13 (iOS 16.5)

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That is correct. Background app refresh is a feature of iOS and Android that allows apps to update their content from the internet, even while you’re not using them. There is a permission setting in iOS that can be set for installed apps. By default, it is generally enabled when you install the app. You can always check: go to Settings on the iOS device, scroll down to the bottom of the list of the left-hand side until you find SmartThings and open it. Background App Refresh is enabled.

After that, like Android, you can close the app, open other apps, force quit the app, play music or whatever and the ST app will still provide location services… as long as you have “Get your location enabled for this iPhone” enabled in the ST app under Menu > Settings (the cog) and the user does not logout of the app.

Having said that… some users have problems with Location services and getting it to work… whether Android or iOS. So that is a different subject.


With the ST app closed, Lately I am finding that ST does not sense when our phones have left the geofenced area. However, as soon as I start the ST app, it immediately triggers the location update. This problem started in the last month or so. And yes I do have background refresh enabled.

One of our phones no longer works. I have ST set to arm the house when we are all gone, but it just started arming the house when I leave…causing all sorts of frustration on the person left behind.

Not sure how to fix this. All the settings are correct and it has been working for a long time.

Sounds like the other person’s phone is not be recognized as being at the house.

I agree. Nothing was changed and everything looks right.

This morning I logged out of that account on that phone, deleted ST, rebooted the phone, deleted the automations from my phone, installed the app back on the phone that was not working, signed in, agreed to everything, set the location to alway and precise, checked the ST settings for location, and rebuilt the automations.

I have to test it in a bit and see what happens.

If you are using Member Location as the trigger, there is no “device” that shows you what the current presence state is for a member. To help with troubleshooting, you might want to create virtual presence sensors for each member and set up Routines to trigger when a member arrives/leaves. That will give you an indication of whether ST app is reporting location properly or not.

Personally, I use virtual presence sensors in my Routines so that I can change out the underlying presence detection mechanism without having to touch those Routines. I was using Life360 until Jan 2023 and am now using the Alexa app location tracking to set the state of my virtual devices.

This is basic stuff though, and after all these years, it shouldn’t have this many issues. At one point I could see each members location, and even now I have a welcome back routine that triggers separately for each one, but one isn’t working.

Really don’t feel like having to dig around, learn how to create these switches, and whatever else. Yeah it sounds lazy/bad, but it should be working.

I have tinkered a lot with ST over the years, but haven’t in a while. Just another reason why this stuff just isn’t ready for mainstream users. Basic stuff like this not working.

I have a few other apps that track my location and no one has ever had the issues ST has. It’s just unfortunate.

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don’t forget to factor in iOS updates :slight_smile:


Don’t disagree with your observations and sentiment. Feels like consumer grade home automation is still very much in the realm of the hobbyist/tinkerer for anything beyond the simplest use cases.

I wish I could offer some other insight into how to diagnose the location tracking issues. In the event you want to set up a virtual presence sensor, here is a link to the vEdge Creator Edge driver by @TAustin that makes setting up virtual devices a breeze.

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Agree on that. Both phones are 14 series and are up to date. Neither ore on a developer preview either.

I know I’m late and getting in on the conversation here, but I did a video on this subject, which I will link. But other contributor comments are correct that each iOS update can have an effect on your ability to connect. I’ve even had to go check routines and make sure that, our iPhones didn’t get deleted from Routines following the updates. And at any rate, my wife’s iPhone 11 and my iPhone 14 have been working very well under the set up which I review in the video. Hope this helps.