Rant:Adding Mobile Presence

This is without a doubt the most confusing, aggravating, non-intuitive process I have ever dealt with. I’ve tried for hours to add my wife and kid’s phones and constantly run into problems. At one point I wanted to remove a person and start all over and inadvertently removed the location (as in hub) and had to reprogram my entire system adding all of my switches and other devices plus my apps. When I think I’ve finally added one of their phones then I check and see that it has the same name is me. So then I need to figure which is which. I get all kinds of confusing warnings (You have used this presence from another location if you remove it etc blah blah I can’t even remember wtf it says.) Then I see the phone but it says inactive or awaiting approval or some other bs. I’ve tried this at least 4 times, and of course anyone with kids knows how difficult it is to wrench their iPhones from their hands for longer than 5 minutes to try to do this.


Here’s a few more warnings I keep getting:

Error you are not authorized to do this operation
An invitation is pending for this phone

It shouldn’t be too difficult. After installing the app on the phone just go to Things or the IDE and rename the device one at a time.

Another thing to check is who’s name is on the phone. Settings-General-About on your phone. You could have your name on the other phones.

I figured that out and did that (in IDE), after figuring out which of the 2 phones with the same exact name was which. I still have another phone that says “Invitation Pending”, plus some of those other warning messages I mentioned that keep popping up.

I appreciate the help but that’s not the point. It’s a mess. I’m no programmer but I’m certainly not a novice and if I’m running in circles, I’m sure the average consumer won’t have a clue. It needs to be MUCH easier to do this.

I am a programmer, and agree: the whole story around managing users and accounts and mobile presence is non-intuitive. ST is a awesome product, but this is a pain point for sure. We recently made the mistake of setting up an account before inviting the user to join. For some crazy reason, you can’t invite somebody who already has an account and have to get support to fix the situation. Really hope this area gets addressed!

I had the same issues as the OP: every device added shows up as ME and then you have to play all kinds of games to figure out which one is which and you end up deleting, re-adding, deleting, remaining - almost like monkeys randomly pounding keys until somehow you stumble not he right combo.

Even once you get it right, mobile presence only works about 50-75% of the time. Between me and my wife, one of our phones will lose correct presence almost every day. Interestingly, my IFTTT and apple reminders and every other geofence app I have works flawlessly - so I know it’s not my phone.

@urman and others at ST have said they are working on the proper fix (and that it’s their highest priority), but that’s been since October - so I am not sure what to think at this point.

Thanks for the posts, at least I know I’m not alone. After hours of of playing the monkey game, I finally have all our iPhones added as mobile presence but they are not reporting correctly.

I think that Mobile Presence is one of the most valuable adjuncts of this (or any) system because it tells you exactly who is arriving or leaving so you can have the system do things based on that. The multi sensors and motions sensors don’t do that. The Presence Tags do except the batteries die ridiculously fast, plus I can’t and won’t put one on every set of keys, in each car, in all of my wife and kid’s hand bags (lol) etc. Since we’ve become permanently attached to our cell phones, even within our homes, it’s the best choice to use for presence.

And with technology like iBeacon coming on-line, it will become even more useful to pinpoint our location within our homes and work spaces.

So now I have all 4 iPhones added to my dashboard but 2 are accurately reporting and 2 are not (showing present but they are not). What should I try next?

Nevermind I think I got it. Needed to turn on Location Services on their phones. With all the other warnings that popped up, it would have been nice if this popped up:
iOS Settings > Privacy > Location Services > SmartThings = “On”

Location services need to be on AND the app has to be running in the background.

There is also that whole thing with iOS 7 and backgrounded GPS based apps that is fanning the flames.

@urman - what whole thing? Is there something that IFTTT, Omnifocus, ios reminders, etc do differently than ST? They never seem to miss for me.

It still doesn’t explain why it’s so inconsistent even when location is on and the app is running as I’m now experiencing after finally getting it set up. And as Steve said those other apps are rock solid.

So now 2 of my phones are not reporting correctly, what’s next? Remove and re-install them again? They’re all iPhone 5’s btw.

@tonyfalcone - try force-quitting the app and re-starting it again - that can sometimes make it come back.

@urman - I never quit any of my apps on my phone. This is what makes me nervous about my interactions with ST support on this issue - I’m not 100% sure the condition is understood. So it’s semi-frustrating on two fronts 1) that it happens in the first place, and 2) getting conflicting info from ST support that they are even aware of the correct issue.

This has nothing to do with the app not running in the background. Neither my wife or I ever quit apps - we just use the the phone - and I’m 99% sure my wife has no idea HOW to quit and app. The ST app, while running, will just STOP updating its presence. about 80% of the time just switching back into the app will bring it back, the rest of the time, I have to force quit and restart it to get it back.

And as I pointed out, somehow every other geofence-using app I have (IFFT, Starbucks, Passport, reminders, etc.) NEVER misses. I mean if STARBUCKS can do it certainly someone at SmartThings can figure it out… after all “smart” is right there in the name :slight_smile:

Can you confirm that ST is tracking the right bug?? Give me a dev build of the app and I can send you at least a log a day between me and my wife where the app just stops reporting location. It’s 100% repeatable for me within any given 48 hour period.

@stevesell you can send in your logs when that happens from the support menu in the app. I bet it would helpful for the iOS team to see it. I don’t think that backgrounded app this is the only issue, but it doesn’t help at all.

We work much more like the Life360 app. I’ll ask the iOS peeps for an in-depth explanation to whats happening.

@urman - if you give me your latest iPhone beta, I’d love to send in the logs :slight_smile: alas, my “release” version does not have that feature. I would love to know more about what’s happening - I just can’t believe it works at all for anyone as bad as it is for me and my wife.

Well I pretty much gave up on mobile presence on my kids’ phones. It works pretty well on mine and my wife’s phone, but I taught my kids well to quit any apps they’re not using to save their battery life so I think they are always quitting the ST app. Hopefully when Apple allows the tracking to work even with the app off it will work well.

In the meantime I’m at least using the Presence Tags which work well for me except that the batteries go dead in 1 1/2 months. I mentioned in another thread that they need to make one specifically for the car which can be powered off of the cigarette lighter outlet .

As of yesterday mobile presence on two android devices have failed to report back a status change. They have been working great for an entire week and suddenly stopped working. On the iPhone it seems to be reporting back well.

Any suggestions on a fix, even if it’s temporary?