Location Mode Changes Failing (5-Dec-23)

Yesterday and today, SmartThings on my Pixel 5 failed to change location automatically.

I have two routines. One changes the location mode to away when I leave, and the other changes the location mode to home when I arrive back home. Both routines are enabled.

I can change the location mode manually, but I shouldn’t have to do this.

I have turned my phone off and on (which normally fixes my geolocation problems with SmartThings) and checked the app permissions (location allowed all the time and pause app activity if unused is disabled.

I’m not sure when Android last updated the app, but there isn’t an update available now.

I can’t see this mentioned elsewhere in the forum, but is anyone else having problems?

To narrow it down to whether it’s an issue with changing location mode or it’s an issue with the geo-tracking on your phone, I would suggest adding a virtual presence sensor to your Routines to change your presence state when you leave/arrive.

1 Like

I and at least one other user posing in the FB group have noted presence issues recently on Pixel 6 phones, possibly since the most recent Android update. I’m leaning toward that as the issue currently but the usual restarts and disabling/enabling “use this phone’s location” in ST, checking battery optimization shenanigans hasn’t solved it so far.

Thanks. I don’t know what a virtual presence sensor is. I’ll have a read about them tomorrow.

If you have a hub, I’d recommend the vEdge Device Creator Edge driver from @TAustin for creating your virtual presence sensor(s). If you don’t have a hub, you can create a cloud based virtual presence sensor using the ST Advanced Web App.

I actually use the virtual presence sensors in my automation Routines so that I can change out the underlying geo-tracking method without having to touch all my Routines. I only have to change the two Routines that change the presence state for each virtual presence sensor. I used to use Life360, but once that went away, I’ve experimented with a number of different location tracking methods including the ST App, IFTTT, and Alexa App so it’s pretty easy to swap between them this way.

1 Like

Currently presence sensing using the Alexa app in the USA seems to be reliable.

I use 2 Alexa routines to change the status of a virtual ST presence sensor. Then I use the virtual presence sensor in my ST routines.

I am using a Pixel 6a phone on Android 14.


Yep, using Alexa on both an iPhone 12 and Galaxy Note 10+ for two different ST locations. Works very reliably.

Thanks for your messages.

I created a new routine earlier that was simply to turn a device off when my phone was no longer present. It didn’t run, so I think that means that the geolocation is the problem. I changed the location mode to away while I was out. I’ve been home for about an hour, and the location mode hasn’t changed.

If I understand things correctly, the point of the virtual switch is so that something other than SmartThings can deal with the location. It’s annoying that I have to install another app because SmartThings doesn’t do what it should do, but it seems like the only solution. All my routines that need location are based on location mode (except for the ones that should change the location mode between home and away, obviously), so the changes shouldn’t be that difficult…

I don’t use Alexa. I could try Tasker, but the SmartThings integration seems too complicated. IFTTT seems like the best option for me. I’ll probably try to figure it out over the weekend.

Thanks again for your replies.

PS: I’m using a hub, so will try the vEdge Device Creator.

PPS: Are these what I need from IFTTT?

Yes. The “if” section should be based on the entering/exiting location and the “then/that” section should be turning on/off the ST virtual presence sensor. Be sure to allow IFTTT to use location all the time in the background.

If you set up a routine to turn it on/off with presence, it gives you visibility on whether your geolocation is working properly. I’ve now switched my various presence-dependent routines to point to this virtual presence, so that if I turn “get my location” off or on while troubleshooting, I only need to repair the two routines that sync it with phone presence - but I can also use the same switch and drive it with Alexa per @Paul_Oliver 's suggestion.


I also use the method you describe so that my presence detection used in Routines is independent from the geo-tracking method I choose to use. And, in addition to using virtual sensors to track individuals in a location, I also have a virtual presence sensor which represents the occupany/vacancy of a location. That way I can trigger Alexa actions based on that sensor since ST location mode can’t be represented in Alexa routines.


Thanks for your replies.

On Friday, I rebooted my phone again. The geo-location worked fine, and SmartThings changed to away and back to home correctly. Unfortunately, the routines associated with the location mode changing did not run (even though they do run when I change the location mode manually).

I’ll see what happens in the coming days and start a new thread if I continue to have these new problems.

I haven’t got around to figuring about using IFTTT for location yet, but I will do so soon.

Thanks again.

Friday was a one-off. I installed IFTTT and set up two routines as a test. They should display a notifications when entering or leaving an area. They didn’t work.

I found out that in the Android settings, Android shows when an app last accessed my location. IFTTT accessed my location twice in 24 hours, but this fixed it:

I have noticed that (although it’s allowed to access my location all the time) SmartThings never accesses my location in the background and only accesses it when I open the app. Even when it accesses my location when I open the app, it never changes the location mode.

Today, the Android app was updated, so I’ll see what happens tomorrow…

Just another data point to add: Husband and I are both on iPhones now and while ST is rock solid regarding presence for my phone, his is erratic. It will work fine for weeks and then stop.

After some testing, we concluded it’s not the phone because Life360 (I never got around to uninstalling it) still reports his coming and going accurately, it just seems like ST doesn’t want to play nice. Usually, if he remembers to open** ST on his phone after leaving home, it will report he has left. But he doesn’t always remember stuff (chemo brain) which is the point of automating things in the first place.

**Edit: To be clear, if he’s running ST when he’s leaving home it doesn’t change his location. He has to open it once he’s away for ST to notice his new location. This may be/seem obvious to everyone else but it took us awhile to figure it out and I thought someone else might find it useful to know.

1 Like

Thank you for the “another data point”.

I found IFTTT to be a bit unreliable. It sometimes thought I’d left home when I was still at home, then thought I arrived about 5 minutes after that. It happens once or twice a week and has happened three times this evening.

I tried using Google Home and that seems much more reliable.

I found the idea of a virtual switch a bit confusing at first, but found a useful YouTube video. I’ll post a link to it when I find it again.

Thanks again for all your help.

1 Like

All sorted now. I’m using Google Home as the trigger.

Thanks again for all your help.

1 Like