Help my phone help me find myself
October 30, 2011 11:18 PM   Subscribe

Am I the only one having trouble with iOS 5 location-based reminders being really, really inconsistent? (I live in rural Japan, for what it's worth, and have my home address stored in Japanese in my "my information" contact entry) And what, if anything, can I do to make it work more consistently at a bare minimum?
posted by DoctorFedora to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I am in Japan and I find it pretty worthless as well.

I have another friend here in Japan who explained that the way it gathers your GPS data is different in Japan than in America. I'll write him and ask him to explain in more detail.
posted by zachawry at 11:59 PM on October 30, 2011

Response by poster: That's pretty intriguing! I've heard hypotheses that the way it works involves checking cell phone towers to see when you're close to "home" but I dunno if that has any real relevance. Of course, the GPS has pretty consistently been willing to go "here's a reasonably small circle where you probably are, now be happy" for me here in Japan. I imagine it's probably better in the US.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:04 AM on October 31, 2011

It works really badly in London UK too, and we have plenty of cell towers. It seems really inconsistent as to what distance triggers either "arriving at...." or "leaving from..." reminders.
posted by roofus at 1:12 AM on October 31, 2011

I live in the US and the Reminders app is under the impression that I live on a huge country estate. So I will get the reminder at least a kilometer away from my house. This is bad because when it is set on leaving my house, I need the reminder closer to my actual home so I can know which freeway I need to get on. When it is set on arriving home, I get the reminder far enough away to forget it by the time I'm actually home.

Plus, it seems to sap battery more than it should. So I've stopped playing with it.

Perhaps it will get better with a future software update. Then again, it might be more of a proof of concept app and another app developer will come up with something better (there are better weather, stock, notes, etc apps) in time.
posted by birdherder at 4:55 AM on October 31, 2011

Best answer: Here's what my GPS-savvy Apple-savvy computer-savvy friend in Japan has to say about it:

"When you register you home location, it's done via entering the postal
address (ken/city/ku/etc.), which then gets reverse-geoencoded into some
latitude and longitude that is likely not all too far from where you
actually live. In my case, it's about 150m away, but I'm sure how well it
does varies greatly from place to place.

This resulting location is shown on the map that comes up when you click on
your own address while in Contacts. If it were to actually use this
location when you made a "remind me when I get home" request it wouldn't be
so bad. But it doesn't.

When you make a "remind me when I get home" request, it seems to take the
latitude/longitude of the home location (the one that was derived via an
automatic conversion of your address) and run that through the opposite
conversion to come up with a postal address, then run *that* through the
first type of conversion to come up with another latitude/longitude
location to use as the basis of the alert.

The problem is that the data sets for these various conversions can be
WILDLY off. You can be literally in Kyoto Station and the conversion back
to a postal address will be as vague as "Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan", but the same
conversion from 100m away will be accurate down to the block. It's
completely hit and miss, and it seems that a "remind me when I get home"
requests ends up putting the location through this hit-n-miss conversion a
total of three times, which allows for the most dramatic of errors.

In other words, it's essentially worthless.

Note that if instead of "remind me when I get home" you do a "remind me"
then "at a location" then pick your home address from the address book, it
omits two of the conversions and it should use the first latitude/longitude
pair mentioned above (the one that for me is 150m off). In theory this can
be useful, but I've not tested it."
posted by zachawry at 3:54 AM on November 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

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