Why are Location Services on when I'm not driving on Gen 1 & 2 adapters?

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Posted 5 years ago

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NOTE: This FAQ applies to Gen 1 & 2 adapters only. See Pro & Lite FAQ. (updated 2/2017)

Bear with us as we explain why Location Services' Geofencing protocols (hollowed out arrow at the top of your phone) remains on...

For a 2nd generation adapter, location services are needed for Crash Alert to work. If you turn them off, trip capture should still work.

For a 1st generation adapter, location services are needed for all functionality. To save system resources like memory and battery power, iOS (the operating system for iPhone) reserves the right to quit applications at any time once they're no longer displayed on-screen. This is a good policy in general, but makes it a little tricky for the Automatic app to do its job of knowing when you drive, capturing your trips, etc.

We don't think you should have to launch the app every time you drive, so here's how it works:

1. When you start your car's ignition, the adapter powers-up and looks around for an iPhone with an Automatic account that the car has been registered to.

2. In many cases, the adapter can wake the app up in the background. Automatic will just work and you didn't have to do anything manually. This is what we want!

But there are a few cases when the app can't be woken up this way:
- After you've restarted your phone
- After you've killed the app manually from the app switcher tray
- After an app update is released (from the App Store)
If you launch the app manually after any of these events, Automatic will continue to work as before.

To get around these limitations, the app uses an Apple-provided service called Region Monitoring as a fall-back. It wakes the app up in the background when the phone moves a given distance from where the car was last parked. When the app detects this, it looks around for the adapter and if you're driving, great, it'll start capturing the trip. If not, the app goes back to sleep.

Region monitoring does use a little bit of battery power when you're not driving, but we've worked really hard to minimize this. Also, your location is not uploaded to Automatic's servers when you're not driving – it stays right on the phone. In these cases, you won't miss any part of your trip since the adapter caches this information to compensate.

In iOS, you need to manually re-open the app if you manually killed the app. iOS also uses Bluetooth State Restoration and Silent Push which can further assist with waking the app up when it's in use, however, we've found that these alone don't provide consistent enough results so we need to continue using Region Monitoring as well. For more information on this, please see this topic.

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