iPhone X iPhone as a GPS tracking device

hiro_hamada

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 25, 2017
65
5
I have an iPhone with broken screen and I use it just to be able to track my camera gear backpack via Find my app.

iPhone sits hidden at the bottom of my backpack, but the thing is the battery dies after around 3-4 days. I bought external 10000mAh battery which basically extends the battery life to 20+ days. The problem is that in order to recharge the iPhone, I have to click on the external battery to start charging, otherwise the iPhone will die despite it's connected to the fully charged external battery. I don't think all the time about this battery so I often forget it and the iPhone sits empty for days before I realize I have to charge it.

Do you have any suggestion how to improve this system in order to work more reliably? Either by eliminating the need to manually initiate recharging, or setting the reminder when the iPhone battery dies (I have no idea how to achieve this), or any other suggestion you have in mind.

Does Find my tracking works when battery dies? Also, does it require that iPhone is connected to the internet (cellular or wifi) or it uses crowd tracking via bluetooth?

Or should I just forget about this and buy a GPS device.
 

bransoj

macrumors 65816
Jul 31, 2013
1,051
274
Find My iPhone uses a data connection i believe to send the information back most of the time but if you go to Settings > Apple ID at the top of the list > Find My > Find My iPhone there are a couple of settings you can pick. One is to enable Offline Finding where it enables it to be found i presume if it manages to connect to another network of some sort somehow plus you can turn on Send Last Location which sends the phones location just before the battery dies.

Using the phone will work but its going to need some sort of human intervention along the line with the power aspect plus a way of attaching it to a data connection for a reliable way of tracking it. My guess is there is a more reliable and better way of doing it using a purposely designed product.
 

jschnee21

macrumors regular
Sep 26, 2018
144
65
Under iOS 13 crowd sourced Bluetooth is supposed to work without the device having its own cellular/data connection. It’s a feature.

But, I’ve never tested it. You could always get a cheap plan from mint, etc. I’m assuming your camera equipment is pricey.

I like Anker batteries. But many/most of them don’t seem to turn on automatically. You could call/email them to recommend a model that does. Their customer is very good.
 

hiro_hamada

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 25, 2017
65
5
Find My iPhone uses a data connection i believe to send the information back most of the time but if you go to Settings > Apple ID at the top of the list > Find My > Find My iPhone there are a couple of settings you can pick. One is to enable Offline Finding where it enables it to be found i presume if it manages to connect to another network of some sort somehow plus you can turn on Send Last Location which sends the phones location just before the battery dies.

Using the phone will work but its going to need some sort of human intervention along the line with the power aspect plus a way of attaching it to a data connection for a reliable way of tracking it. My guess is there is a more reliable and better way of doing it using a purposely designed product.
Thanks, all of these options was already enabled

Under iOS 13 crowd sourced Bluetooth is supposed to work without the device having its own cellular/data connection. It’s a feature.

But, I’ve never tested it. You could always get a cheap plan from mint, etc. I’m assuming your camera equipment is pricey.

I like Anker batteries. But many/most of them don’t seem to turn on automatically. You could call/email them to recommend a model that does. Their customer is very good.
What's Mint? Some kind of insurance?
 

ericwn

macrumors 601
Apr 24, 2016
4,606
2,851
There are rumours that Apple will introduce a tile-like competitor in the near future that would use that tracking technology. Might be good to wait until that surfaces.
 

hiro_hamada

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 25, 2017
65
5
There are rumours that Apple will introduce a tile-like competitor in the near future that would use that tracking technology. Might be good to wait until that surfaces.
Yeah, I heard about it a year ago, but who knows when and if it will become a true :)
 

jschnee21

macrumors regular
Sep 26, 2018
144
65
Mint is an inexpensive MVNO (uses Tmo) so you can get cheap cellular data service on your GPS tracking phone
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,362
4,354
I just use Tile for really important stuff. I almost lost my office keys once and the cost of the Tile is well worth not having to deal with that potential bureaucratic mess.

We used to keep a backup phone in the car and even with external battery pack (so it doesn't keep drawing power from the car battery) we never could keep it charged for when we actually need to use it.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,554
1,873
I have an iPhone with broken screen and I use it just to be able to track my camera gear backpack via Find my app.

iPhone sits hidden at the bottom of my backpack, but the thing is the battery dies after around 3-4 days. I bought external 10000mAh battery which basically extends the battery life to 20+ days. The problem is that in order to recharge the iPhone, I have to click on the external battery to start charging, otherwise the iPhone will die despite it's connected to the fully charged external battery. I don't think all the time about this battery so I often forget it and the iPhone sits empty for days before I realize I have to charge it.

Do you have any suggestion how to improve this system in order to work more reliably? Either by eliminating the need to manually initiate recharging, or setting the reminder when the iPhone battery dies (I have no idea how to achieve this), or any other suggestion you have in mind.

Does Find my tracking works when battery dies? Also, does it require that iPhone is connected to the internet (cellular or wifi) or it uses crowd tracking via bluetooth?

Or should I just forget about this and buy a GPS device.
Is the iPhone usable with the broken screen?

First I would consider a real GPS tracking system. Otherwise....

Certain externals will power on automatically without user intervention. I have a couple I bought at Costco that will stay powered on until the device attached kills them.

With iOS 13 you can make a daily automation that runs a shortcut (shortcut app) that looks similar to this...

IMG_EF7D8F7FE1CC-1.png

Where it says "number" you would put your low battery level and yourself as the message recipient.

So for example everyday it will get the battery info at 8am (for example) if the battery is less than 10 percent it will send you a message that says "10" informing you it needs to be charged. You can make the shortcut more sophisticated by adding adding the "Get Current Location" command and adding that to the message it sends you. Resulting output would be a message that tells you the battery is low and its current location.

If you wanted to get real fancy you could also set it to alert you when it moves from certain places. Really only limited by Apples shortcut rules and your imagination.

You'll need data of course though...
 

hiro_hamada

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 25, 2017
65
5
Is the iPhone usable with the broken screen?

First I would consider a real GPS tracking system. Otherwise....

Certain externals will power on automatically without user intervention. I have a couple I bought at Costco that will stay powered on until the device attached kills them.

With iOS 13 you can make a daily automation that runs a shortcut (shortcut app) that looks similar to this...

View attachment 898881

Where it says "number" you would put your low battery level and yourself as the message recipient.

So for example everyday it will get the battery info at 8am (for example) if the battery is less than 10 percent it will send you a message that says "10" informing you it needs to be charged. You can make the shortcut more sophisticated by adding adding the "Get Current Location" command and adding that to the message it sends you. Resulting output would be a message that tells you the battery is low and its current location.

If you wanted to get real fancy you could also set it to alert you when it moves from certain places. Really only limited by Apples shortcut rules and your imagination.

You'll need data of course though...
Hi, this would be very uselful. I made a shortcut from your screenshot, but it does not send message automatically, I have to tap and then it opens Message dialogue with the baterry percentage number.
 
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