iOS mobile presence.... Sigh

I had such high hopes when 1.5 came out…it worked for 3 days (which was longer than earlier versions)

Today my wife and I went for a morning walk for coffee - both of our iPhones went away and arrived like it is supposed to, then we both left for lunch… But only her mobile presence registered leaving and arriving - mine stayed present the whole time. Then we both left again later in the afternoon, at which point my wife’s phone went ‘not present’ never came back.

I discover this tonight when I opened the app to turn off all the lights in the house and I noticed it said my was was not present. That caused me to look at the activity for our mobile presences and I discovered the above behavior.

Of course opening the app on each phone caused them both to re-acquire.

Wasn’t this supposed to be fixed in 1.5?

Out of curiosity, which iOS device are you using? I set-up mobile presence on my iPhone 5S a few weeks ago and based on the forum I expected it not work. For me, it hasn’t failed one time. When I go to work, when we go for walks, etc. it has worked every time.

My wife has a cheap Android phone (ZTE Valet) and presence on hers has been much more hit and miss. I’ve noticed she has to get much farther outside of the geofence than I do (our normal walk through the neighbor, my phone will register as gone but hers doesn’t). The phone also doesn’t seem to check its location very often. We have been phone for up to 20 minutes before her phone registers it is back.

I’ve had similar experience to Blake. 5S for me, 5 for my wife. It seems to work very consistently.


Well, I am with Steve. Mine is very hit or miss. Left for work this morning and ST still shows my iphone 5s as present, but my presence sensor on my keys as gone, which is obviously correct.


It isn’t just iOS. Android smartthings app sucks too as a presence device. I had a Galaxy S3 that never worked right. Recently upgraded to a Nexus 5. It doesn’t work correctly. My wife’s Nexus 4 works just fine.

My S3 and Nexus 5 did the same type of stupid crap. Randomly have me leave while I was sitting on the couch with the phone connected to my wifi. Have it show up as present 50+ minutes after I got home.

It has nothing to do with location services because I run Hemisphere (google latitude type app) and it is always showing the correct location. So my phone is reporting the correct locating all the time. Smartthings implementation of the location services is screwed.

@stevesell I just brought it up with Kyle, the iOS dev who is now tasked with fixing it. The issue as I understand it has to do with how we run tasks in the background. What we can do while the app is closed is limited by Apple. The new fix has to do with location services informing us we have left a region and forcing the app to open in the background and complete the actions.

I know this is on the short list for fixing this week. I bring it up ALL the time :p. When the app is running it works flawlessly, but I like to close all my apps all the time so presence has been an issue.

I’ve been experiencing the same thing…even when I ensure the app is running in the background. Same on both my iPhone and girlfriends iPhone.

@urman, starting with iOS 7, the app won’t re-launch to perform any work on entering or leaving a geographical region. This means you cannot kill the app (from the multi-tasking menu) and expect presence detection to still work. This is a change in policy that Apple introduced with iOS 7. In iOS 6 the app would re-launch. Now, it only wakes up if it is still “running” in the background.

Also, I strongly believe the problem is not with iOS not reliably detecting entering or exiting a geographical region, but with network reachability. Technically, Apple tries to limit the ways in which apps can “phone home”, but for presence detection, this is exactly what the ST app must do. Once the phone enters or leaves a geofence, the ST app must connect to the ST cloud to update the presence status.

What if at that moment connectivity is limited (no wifi, no cellular signal) and the request never “arrives” at the ST web service. iOS limits the amount of time apps can do work in the background, i.e. the request will time out, the background thread will expire and be terminated by iOS, and the app will NEVER get another chance to update the presence status, until the user enters or leaves the geofence, again. AFAIK, there is no way for an iOS app to schedule another background task from within the geofence handler.

I would really love to know how the ST app handles this particular scenario. It feels like this could be a weak spot in presence detection, and if there is a solution to this, then I would love to know out of personal interest.

@urman - I was starting to think it wasn’t very high on the priority list - good to hear! It’s such a great feature and makes the system unbelievably more useful than it otherwise would be with just Key Fobs.

FWIW, I agree with @florianz, it seems to be related to network connectivity. When the phone spends some time in a low signal area, the app stops checking in - even when you come back into solid wifi/cell coverage. Even crossing the geofence again doesn’t do it.

I will buy Kyle a beer of his choice to fix this!

This is also why I want to look into getting my own iBeacon setup and working with SmartThings if possible. I’m wondering and hoping that it will more reliable.

Mobile presence was acting up on me for a week now and since I didn’t have any push notification set up before that, I updated the smartapp to send me a text message when changing modes. For a day or two now it’s been working properly. Coincidence?

@eibyer - Think it is a coincidence. In my experience, once the app gets “presence stuck”, it’s stuck until relaunch. I have several push notifications set up simply because I need to know when it gets stuck (I stop getting the notifications).

You were right, it was a fluke LOL. Failed me today at lunch break.

My mobile presence is doing something interesting. I installed the SmartThings app before getting my hub. The mobile presence worked perfectly. It knew when I was away/home and it was always updated correctly. After I installed my SmartThings hub however the presence has been “stuck”. It has said that I am home the whole time.
I have tried forcing my app to close, even rebooted the phone. It still shows I am home when I am not. Any suggestions?

@wamblej I’d try resetting the info in the geofence area in settings.

I tried adjusting the geofence area and resetting the program, but it does not seem to recognize it still. Am I able to use my ipad to remove my phone from my list of “Things”? It does not appear that I can remove it while in the app on the phone itself.

Size of the geofence has nothing to do with it (no matter what the support people may tell you). They have bug, they know they have a bug, it’s been going to be fixed “soon” for months now.

Bottom line - iPhone as a mobile presence is completely unreliable until this is fixed. Based on my early communications with support, it seemed like they knew what the problem was and they were going to fix it imminently. However, that was months ago and it wasn’t addressed in the major app update the other week.

At this point I have no idea what to think. Hopefully someone from ST will chime in.

It looks like it is working right now. I removed it as a presence device and then re-added it. It would never let me remove it as a “Thing” all together, but doing this seems to have worked (for now). I notice when it is working my GPS arrow is always on. And when it was not updating my GPS arrow was rarely there.

This is on an Android phone and just an observation. I’m not sure it’s been mentioned before but my brain tells me it has. Anyways, I noticed that my mobile presence works as it should if I have my screen on when I enter the geofenced area.

Previously it was working fine for me because I always had Pandora on while driving with the screen on all the time. Last week I stopped doing that and my mobile presence behavior went to the crapper. Yesterday I started using Pandora again and once I got into the geofenced area I receive the text message of the mode change. So just to test my observation, I drove out of the zone and back in, auto-mode change worked. :slight_smile:

That’s all. I don’t know if it makes a difference to the developers but there’s my contribution from an end user :wink:

Why is the geofence in the SmartThings app limited to 150 meters, when the geofence in the built in Apple Reminders app allows 100 meters? I live in an urban area, and that extra 50 meters makes a big difference.