SmartThings Community

Phone Presence requires Cellular? Even with WiFi connected?


(John) #1

Been using ST for over a year, with my phone as my presence device. My “phone” has always been wifi-only. I have a hotspot (free minimal monthly data) I take with me when I go out.

This used to work PERFECTLY. Just leave the house and it executed “goodbye” mode. In the evenings, I could see my house lights turn on when I was 5 or 6 houses away and “I’m back” mode would execute. PERFECT. Then recently it started to take a long time to identify me when i got home, way beyond the time it would take to enter my house.

After having no luck troubleshooting, I decided to remove the “presence app” and reinstall it. NOW it says that the phone must have cellular service in order to be used as a presence device. So I guess this is what caused the problem. And now I can’t even reinstall the app, but since it doesn’t work anymore, it doesn’t matter.

Why was this changed? It worked just fine the way it was. I’m not going to start paying for cell data just to make this work. So the only other alternative is a presence fob, which is way slower to respond, only connects when I’m already at my door (my wife uses one) and another damn thing to carry. Please put it back the way it was.


(Robin) #2

ST mobile presence has been unreliable for years, in recent months ST have made several ‘improvements’ and it is now a lot less prone to errors.

It would appear that one of the ‘improvements’ was a move to reliance on mobile data, which is not surprising as triangulating cell towers gives far better location accuracy compared to WiFi (and a mobile hotspot does not share location data).

I’d say it’s a safe bet that 99% of users have cellular data on their mobiles so this will only impact a tiny minority… however it’s certainly a shame that ST didn’t include the old method as a fall back, for when cellular data is unavailable.


(Paul) #3

Sounds like you’ll have to try Life360.


#4

Unfortunately, life 360 also changed their methodology so that now you also have to have a data plan for their app. It was at the same time that they stopped supporting tablets and windows phones, which don’t use the same kind of location services.

Can any phone, anywhere, work with Places?
For Place Alerts to work, the phone you are locating will need to be either an iPhone or Android device and have the Life360 app installed, with an internet connection, data plan, and location sharing turned on.
.
While some users were previously able to use tablets, Windows phones, and non-smartphones with our app, the latest version and technology is no longer compatible with these devices.

Some community members have set up virtual presence sensors which work when they connect to specific Wi-Fi networks, but you have to have admin privileges to the WiFi network to set it up, and it will depend on what kind of router you have whether you can do this or not.


(Paul) #5

Or maybe a Bluetooth beacon of some sort? I wouldn’t normally suggest that as a primary method, but in this instance I think it might make sense.

These are obviously covered in your excellent FAQ


(John) #6

Thanks for all the suggestions. Since ST removed the easy method (unless you have a data plan) I’ll look into the more complicated methods. I already use Tasker, so it might make sense to look at that method which also used AutoLocation and SharpTools. Hopefully it’s not too messy.


(Glen King) #7

Oy. I’ve tried many times to make an android phone into a reliable presence, and it’s never really worked… gonna try again after reading this and other threads.

Cellphones still ‘see’ towers, even if you do not have a cell plan. Hypothetically, you could use a series of proximities to be detected. Problem is getting them to run reliably in the background, while the phone is in your pocket/bag with the screen off.

I dunno… perhaps one could do this:

  • Upon detecting the presence of a particular cell tower,
  • Make the screen active for x minutes
  • The ‘active’ phone would then be far more prone to detecting when it encounters your home WiFi… maybe. Lol And that would trigger it to declare itself ‘present’.

Then there are many ways of having it process. Maybe then Life360 would work. Or maybe then it could send an sms to an android control tablet, which upon getting the SMS from your phone would trigger the actions you want.

Will be interesting to revisit this.


(John) #8

Ugh. somethings are just not worth it, I’ll just manually run the routines . . . . . . thanks ST


(Glen King) #9

Ok… time to delineate the conditions that should (maybe) make this work. I have a device that senses cell towers, WiFi routers, and gps coordinates. So this has to be doable! (This post will be edited a few times as I think it through.feel free to chime in!)

First condition: my cellphone is not powered-on frequently. So I have to ensure that my automations that should occur upon returning home don’t kick in every time I power the phone on.
Method: global variables. If where I am sets a global %AT-HOME (yes/no) variable in Tasker, then every location-dependent profile can check that value as part of the context… that will cover this issue. It will not set the variable until after it performs the “arrived home” actions. And then that variable will be reset upon encountering any cell towers or WiFi hubs that are not part of my ‘home’.

Second condition: I don’t have cell service. So it will be extremely local in application.

Third condition: WiFi drains batteries. So I don’t want the WiFi on until I get within cell-tower range.
Caveat: I also don’t necessarily want WiFi on all the time that I’m home.

To be continued.

EDIT: I’m getting good results in concept. Using “cell near” to open my to-do app when I get near stores. It’s a beginning. I also have my ATHOME variable working correctly when I leave (0), and when I return (1).


(Glen King) #10

There is a stumbling block at every turn lol

I have a good location/presence test on my WiFi phone.
But because it’s a WiFi phone and lacks the ability to replace its default sms app, I cannot get Tasker to send an action to my control tablet! lol

Open to ideas… hmmm. Guess I’ll have to load Sharptools on the phone.