Five location tricks for iPhone and iPad

Ben Patterson
19 October, 2015
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Yes, it’s a fact: both your iPhone and iPad know exactly where you are at all times. Creepy, perhaps, but also incredibly handy, and we’re not just talking about pinpointing your location on Google Maps.

For example, you can set your iOS device to remind you about an errand when you arrive at a certain street address, or you can quickly let a friend know where you are at any given moment. Want your family to know every time you’ve left work for home? Done. You can even get an alert at the precise moment you need to leave for a geotagged Calendar appointment.

Read on for five clever ways to make the most of iOS’s location features, starting with…

Get a reminder when you arrive or leave

Your mission: stop at the ATM on the way home and pick up some cash for the babysitter. Sure, you could set a reminder for when you’re about to leave the office, but there’s a decent chance you’ll see the alert, swipe it away, walk out the door and promptly forget.

Get a reminder when you arrive at (or leave) a location

Instead, try this: a geotagged reminder. Open the Reminders app, add a new reminder (‘Get cash!’), toggle on the ‘Remind me at a location’ setting, then pick a location – in this case, you could just search on ‘ATM’ to find a nearby cash machine. You can set the reminder to trigger itself when you arrive at a certain location or as you leave it.

Send your location via text

Say you’re trying to meet up with a colleague downtown, and all she needs to know is where you are. You could try describing your location in a text – “I’m at Myer on Bourke between Elizabeth and Swanston” – but there’s an easier, faster and much more precise way.

Send your location via text message

Within your message thread in the Messages app, tap the Details button in the top-right corner of the screen, then tap Send My Current Location.

When you do, your friend will get a text message with your exact (well, exact enough) map coordinates. If your pal is using an iPhone or iPad, a snippet of a map with your pinpointed position will appear in the actual message thread. Android users will get a link that they can open with Google Maps.

Let your besties know you’re on your way

The iOS Find My Friends app is a great way to keep track of your friends and loved ones. Once you’ve added some iOS-using peeps to your Find My Friends list (and assuming they’ve given you the OK, of course), you can track their locations and even get alerts when they leave their current location or arrive at a new one.

Let your besties know that you’ve arrived

That much you may have already known; what you may not know, though, is that you can also set up your own ‘geofence’ to let fellow Find My Friends users know when you’re on the move.

Launch the Find My Friends app, tap ‘Me’ at the bottom of the screen, then tap Notify Friends. Add some names in the ‘To’ field, then pick a Send My Location option: Right Now, When I Leave or When I Arrive. Tap ‘Other’ if you want to specify a location other than your current position.

Or, here’s another way to do it: go back to the main Find My Friends screen, tap a name in your friend list, tap the ‘More…’ button, then tap ‘Notify [name of friend]‘. Once again, you can then pick an option: Right Now, When I Leave or When I Arrive.

Last but not least, if you want your family to know (for example) each and every time you’re heading home from work, just toggle on the ‘Repeat Every Time’ setting.

Know when it’s time to go

You don’t want to be late for that big meeting in the city, but you don’t want to be stuck cooling your heels because you’re too early, either. So when’s the best time to head out?

Well, you could make your best guess and set an alert for your Calendar event – say, an hour before the meeting. Here’s a better option: let iOS pick a precise departure time for you.

Get an alert when it’s time to go

First step: make sure you’ve added a place in the event’s Location field. As you type, search results from the Maps app should begin to appear. When you see the right one, go ahead and tap it.

Once you’ve added a location, scroll down to the event’s Second Alert field, tap it and select Time to Leave. (There’s a good chance that Time to Leave is already the default alert setting on your iOS device – you can check by tapping Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Default Alert Times.)

When the time is right – basically, depending on how long iOS thinks it’ll take you to drive to your destination, with traffic – your iPhone or iPad will ping you about 15 minutes before it’s time to hit the road.

Unfortunately, Calendar’s ‘Time to Leave’ feature only takes into account driving conditions; there’s no custom setting if you’re planning on walking or taking public transit.

Fun fact: If you check a geotagged-event on the Mac version of the Calendar app, you’ll see the weather forecast for the specific time and place of the event.

Stop iOS from tracking of your favourite hangouts

Whether you know it or not, your iPhone (or iPad) keeps a list of your ‘frequent locations”—that is, specific places you’ve been spending a lot of time at lately.

Keep iOS from keeping track of your favorite hangouts

You can check your own list of regular hangouts by tapping Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations, and you’ll probably find entries for your home and office, as well as anywhere else you’ve been visiting on a regular basis. You can even tap on a place and see long entries marking your visits, complete with times and dates.

What’s your iOS device doing with all this (somewhat creepy) information? According to Apple, your ‘frequent locations’ list helps ‘provide useful location-related information’, presumably like commute times, nearby restaurants and the like.

If you’d rather not have your iPhone or iPad keep such close tabs on where you’ve been, just tap the Clear History button and toggle off the ‘Frequent Locations’ setting.

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