Location is everything
Geofencing is an iOS feature that’s likely to see significant improvement within iOS 9, as Apple introduces new frameworks for connected (“Internet of Things”) devices; so how might Jony Ive use the feature to help him travel?
A short definition: Geofencing uses Core Location in iOS 8 to monitor where a user happens to be and then offer reminders or other prompts if that user enters or leaves a previously specified area.
In the case of Apple’s recently promoted Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, geofencing in iOS could remind him to check he has his passport with him when he reaches the airport to board his private jet to the UK to attend the school play (should that kind of Transatlantic existence be what Ive’s recent promotion is really about).
To enable geolocation
Enabling geolocation takes just two steps.
- First you must turn on Background App Refresh in Settings>General>Background App Refresh.
- Secondly you should toggle Reminders to the on position in Settings>Privacy>Location Services.
To use geolocation
With location services enabled Apple’s top designer can easily set up a Reminder to check he is carrying his passport when he gets close to the airport.
- Launch the Reminders app, tap + and create a “Get passport” reminder.
- Tap circled “i” to the right of that item on the list.
- In the subsequent Details screen choose ‘Remind me at a location’ and a new screen appears.
- On this screen you see a map, some pre-chosen destinations and a search bar. Choose the location from which to set a location center.
- In the map at the bottom of this page your chosen location will appear surrounded by a blue circle with a black dot. The circle defines the boundaries of your geolocation zone, you can extend the radius of this by dragging the dark dot to the right of the circle.
- (In this case I extended the radius to 5km from San Francisco airport, so Ive gets the time he needs to pick up that forgotten passport.
- Once you’ve chosen the location you can set the Reminder to launch when you enter or leave the area.
In future, whenever the Apple designer is 5km from the airport he’ll be reminded to check his passport. Which would be a little annoying until the inevitable happens and he does forget the document.
Life beyond Ive
It may or may not be true that now he has been freed of day to day management responsibilities, Ive intends using his new freedom to travel, but the scenario does provide an apt illustration of how to use this iOS feature. There are lots of ways anyone can use geolocation Reminders to get things done:
- To check you have your keys on leaving the house
- To remember essential documents
- To shop for items when near an appropriate shop
- To call friends when you are nearby
Design for life
iOS developers make extensive use of geofencing when working with iBeacons and/or retail apps. If you happen to use the Starbucks app then you’ll have seen its icon appear at bottom left of your iPhone when you pass a store – that’s an example of geofencing and location services in action over beacons.
Geofencing also has implications in the home – so iOS-controlled Phillips Hue lamps can be set to switch on or off as you enter or leave a room. That’s an example of how indoor mapping will be used within the control system for the smart home, of which we expect to learn much more at WWDC (and perhaps get a hint at the future of the iPhone).
It will be interesting to see if Jony Ive will want to tell developers a little more about Apple’s design direction at the annual event, as he adopts a more strategic role within the company.