Mobile Presence Geofence (iPhone)

Is anyone else having your mobile presence being picked up WAY outside your geofence? I will be on the Freeway coming home before I exit (about 1.5 mi as the crow flies) and will get notified I am home. My geofence is set to as small as I can make it around my hub. No way can I use this “presence” to trigger any actions with this behavior.

Are you on iOS?

I’ve noticed that keeping WiFi turned on helps a ton.

I have noticed that sometimes I get a reflection about 3 miles from my home that allows me to connect poorly to my wireless. This might be what is happening for you. Is your wifi set to always on?

Yes I am using iOS and usually have wifi on. Whether or not WiFi is on should not reflect the GeoFence should it? The whole idea of mobile presence was being able to control the "range (via GeoFence) or am I missing something???

Yeah, me too. I have an Android, but my GF has an iPhone. We live in an high rise apt building, so when she is down the street, it says she’s home. Obvi this is designed for people with significant space around their “home”. This is a feature that should be customizable within the app. . .much like notifications…lol

I’d try and keep WiFi on and see if that helps. Your phone uses WiFi to determine its location. (

If that fails, I’ve had good luck with the presence sensor.

Respectfully, I don’t think that’s the issue. Because when my GF is down the street, and NOT connected to wifi, it says she’s home. So i think this is an issue with the ST things app using the GPS.

If all my Map apps show me on the freeway then ST app should be able to do the same thing and it would be a simple binary question. Am I in the geofence or not? My question is I am very far from my fence but all of a sudden ST notification says I have arrived.

Another option if the Presence sensor in SmartThings is not working is Life360. Look into that and give it a try. Before you add Life360 presence sensors, I have found it better to remove the prior SmartThings Presence devices. This helps to keep confusion to a minimum

App backgrounding can also affect this. Generally, if any GPS-using app is running it will result in better reading. However, your case is strange. Have you emailed into support?

No I thought I would see if others were having a similar experience but will do so now!


I too have been having issues with my presence detection from my iOS. I’d be over 5 km’s away and it thinks i’m home.

Same here. Last night, it was dead on, detecting my arrival as I pulled in to the driveway. Tonight, it logged me 12 minutes before I got home, somewhere around 1.3 miles from home. When this is controlling my lock, that’s very not ok :-/

Unfortunately I don’t think his case is strange. These boards have loads of people with similar problems, myself included. I’ve more or less given up on any and all hope for usable presence detection in SmartThings. I used mobile, but would get false positives as far as 5-7 miles from home, but usually within about 3 miles. Consistently. So I switched to presence tags. The tags are useless. Might be good for keeping track of a purse, or finding your keys, but otherwise, the 1-3 minute delay of SmartThings detecting a presence tag means I’m manually doing almost everything I was trying to automate, and then there’s the confusion of when it finally DOES detect I’m home and tries to do all the things already done. After just 1 week and 3 times my garage door opening about 5 minutes after I’ve pulled in the car, closed the door, and manually unlocked the house, I had to give up. As for leaving and closing down the house, the tags offer no faster times, I’m usually several miles away by the time I get the notification that it’s performing “goodbye” and closing the garage door. Almost exactly on the same spot in the car mobile vs tag. So I’m back to manually doing that, too. $90 on garage door relays and $65 on presence sensors and hundreds on zwave locks and for what? I just spent $150 on a Z-Wave thermostat but I’m now discovering there’s no worthwhile way to process multiple mobile based geofences so I can’t set it for when I leave work to change the thermostat. IFTTT polls every 15 minutes and it’s a 25 minute ride from work. So far anything that’d be worthwhile for me to automate has been a bust. So I’ve got a few lights that don’t need to be turned on manually and a dehumidifier hooked to a humidity sensor (which the unit already has it’s own built in, but I bought the SmartThings sensor so I can check humidity without going into the crawl), that would have cost $50 for a couple switches at home depot, big deal.

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Regarding this part, I hope you have changed the default threshold of Good Bye triggering which is 10 minutes for the Good bye hello home action if that’s what you are using.

Apple includes geofencing in the base operating system for iOS devices, which means it works differently depending which version of the operating system you have. There are also a few hardware differences (an iPhone 4 uses slightly different geofencing than an iPhone 4S as an example ).

Starting with iOS 8, it will first use iBeacons, then WiFi + GPS, then regular GPS locating algorithms. This is supposed to save battery life and improve accuracy. But one thing that it means is that as a WiFi signal strength changes, including due to interference, the detection will kick in at different places.

And if it has to fall back to GPS, it runs into the same thing that Android systems do–your location will be based in part on which cell tower pings you, and that can change based on a lot of things. So there may be days when you get picked up by different towers, thus changing the trigger point.

Theoretically, therefore, a presence sensor device like the SmartThings fob, which is Zigbee-based, should connect at a more reliable and much shorter distance (the shop description says 35 to 50 feet). But if you use devices that act as zigbee repeaters, that can change the distance, sometimes in unexpected ways. And again you can run into interference, so approaching from one direction might give you a different range than approaching from a different one.

@smart (Ron S)'s suggestion of checking the default trigger times on the actions you’re using is a good one in either case.

Using a mobile phone as a presence sensor to change a thermostat or even turn on lights may be fine even with the variable range. For security features like unlocking doors or opening garages, though, a zigbee sensor probably makes more sense.

When/If SmartThings adds iBeacon support, that should give much smaller ranges if desired, but that’s a “someday maybe” situation.

This is well said and I happen to agree with it. It’s unreliable for locks and garage doors as it works perfect for my iPhone 6, but not for my wife’s iPhone 6, despite identical hardware. Therefore, I have locks and garage doors tied to my phone’s presence, but not hers.

The delay time is currently set to 0 minutes. Usually I’m about half a mile away (2 minutes of driving in my neighborhood with stop signs and low speeds right when I get to the light to turn onto the highway) but sometimes I’m 2-3 miles away down the highway. What’s even more frustrating is that I have the garage doors to close when everyone leaves and sometimes they will close after I’m about a mile away (3 minutes driving) but I won’t get notification that it’s performed goodbye until I’m at work sometimes 15-20 minutes later! So the hub KNOWS no one is home, and performs an action based on that, but doesn’t actually perform ALL the actions. Every once in a while I’ll notice it doesn’t change at all and my doors are unlocked for hours.

I ran on Mobile detection for almost 3 months despite all the false positives. We just bought the house recently and with christmas and birthdays didn’t want to buy the presence tags. I broke down and bought them because I had a ramp up in false positives despite being miles away at the time. I ran for two weeks, checking every coming and going on both the mobile and tag and found no appreciable difference in practical usage except this: Tags gave nearly no false positives. We had one instance of tags saying we had left but were home. But they can also be very, very slow to respond with I’m Home events. While the no false positives makes it more ideal for security features, the real world practicality is lost because their detection on the network isn’t reliable and in the time you have to wait for it to detect that you’re home, you’ve already manually done all the automation tasks and more. I had to turn them off for opening the garage door because my wife complained on day three that she was sitting in front of the door for upwards of 3 minutes before it would open every day. (I’m surprised that she had the patience to help me test the system.) I’m currently without any legitimate 100% reliable option. I still have it use the tags for setting the mode and unlocking the doors and closing the garage (as a back up in case we forget) and 9 of 10 times they work as expected. But it’s frustrating as heck when I get out of the car and unexpectedly bash into the door because it’s still deadbolted.

I’m new to ST - buying sensors and waiting for v2 hub to be released. On the mobile geofence feature, are you able to set the geofence to any distance? One primary feature I would like to automate is to have my exterior lights come on when we get X miles away from the house and it’s past a certain time in the evening.

I currently use geofencing with a Honeywell Lyric and it works great when set to a 7 mile geofence - sometimes it triggers right at 7 miles, sometimes not till 3-4 miles, but it really doesn’t matter - the heater is on an running by the time we get home. The same applies to our exterior lights, so I’d love to have a similar set-up.