Bizarre "Find my iPhone" experience

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by booyahbooyah, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. booyahbooyah, Oct 14, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014

    booyahbooyah macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2011
    I was home and couldn't find my phone. So, as I usually do, I fired up "Find my iPhone" on my iPad to play a sound on my phone (so I could find it).

    Anyways, I couldn't hear any sound, so I looked at the map, and my phone was a couple of blocks away. I couldn't believe it. I must have dropped it somewhere or something. As I'm watching in disbelief, the phone starts to move slowly on the map, as if someone's walking with it.

    I turned on "Lock my Phone" and sent a screen message with info on whom to call etc. (I also have a sticker on my phone with my contact info).

    Phone keeps moving until it stops moving another 3 blocks away. A total of 5 diagonal blocks from where I live. I have a friend call my number multiple times (I FaceTimed the friend via my iPad). No response.

    (I didn't go to where I could see the phone earlier because I don't have another cellular connected device. My iPad is wifi only, and would have lost the ability to track the phone if I went out.)

    I drive down to the where the phone stopped moving, and there are 2 mansions there. I am hopeful. These rich people won't keep my phone. Plus they haven't disconnected the phone by doing a hard power-off. But why aren't they answering calls? And why haven't they emailed me about it yet (my email is printed on the phone).

    I come back home. About 15 minutes later, I check Find my iPhone again, and astonishingly, the phone is moving back towards where I am. In fact, it is slowly moving back towards the building where I probably lost it in the first place. This building is in a college campus with wireless wifi. (This college building is about 1 block from my home and about 4 blocks from the place where I had driven to.) So I grab my iPad and set out to look for my phone.

    As I get close to the phone, I play a sound on it (via the iPad). I find the phone ringing in the exact same spot where I was sure I had lost it (a chair in a lobby inside a building). Through independent verification (surveillance cameras), I have been able to verify that the phone was sitting in that chair the entire time.

    However, for a while, Find my iPhone showed it as moving across my town, and then settling in one of two possible houses in the town. I almost knocked on each of those houses to inquire about it. If I had another cellular connected iDevice, I would have probably grabbed some person walking the road and accused him/her of having my phone.

    Find my iPhone was initially grossly inaccurate in judging the location of my phone. Be careful using it folks.
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Hmmm. You have access to independent surveillance cameras? That's pretty boss.

    But really, since the first time Find my iPhone was made available until last Friday, I have not used it with exception of checking it out to see how it worked. My phone was in my pocket, which I knew. Saturday, however, was another story. The size of the phone means it is taken out every time I sit down. Copious amounts of beer alongside me taking it out when I sat down in a car, resulted in me temporarily losing the phone. Find my iPhone was used, like you did, and I knew it was on the back seat of a friend's car in her driveway. It never once moved.

    It could be a wifi/cell tower ping situation for you. I was on cellular only since I was not connected to anyone's wifi. The phone was on vibrate so the guy who called me at 2 am was ignored as they never heard the phone after dropping me off.

    tl;dr, so far it has been painfully and joyfully accurate. I was inches away from wiping it and ordering another.
  3. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    Find my iPhone is hit or miss as proven by your story. If your phone was actually stolen and find my iPhone indicated its at my house, it may not be.
  4. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    So how far apart were those two locations?
  6. booyahbooyah thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2011
    I updated my post to mention this. Thanks.

    "This college building is about 1 block from my home and about 4 blocks from the place where I had driven to."
  7. JoeTomasone macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2014
    Inadequate GPS signal in that location would be my guess. That can vary based on the composition of the building and whatever other obstacles may be between you and the satellites.
  8. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010

    My very first thought was GPS multipath effect skewing the location, and satellite motion changing the reflection angles/path and giving the illusion of movement.
  9. mightyjabba macrumors 65816


    Sep 25, 2014
    Find My iPhone (and the mapping apps) are not pinpoint accurate -- particularly if the device is standing still. Just calibrate your expectations with that in mind.

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