iPhone's crazy: it uses GPS to find a network while in airplane mode

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Ultra AleM, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. Ultra AleM, Aug 17, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015

    Ultra AleM macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #1
    Hello, guys! I discovered something really odd. iPhone searches for a network when it's ordered not to do it. If you put your iPhone in airplane mode (I like to do it when I go to bed), you will find it in the morning with GPS on (in particular with "network research" system service on). Isn't that the most idiotic thing that may happen? But I think to know what happens: the phone can't find a signal due to the airplane mode, and it activates the gps service to help himself in the research. That's just some bad engineering! It's impossible to note because system GPS services are hidden, they do not show up in the upper right corner unless you specifically enable this feature: you will than find out that they activate A LOT, every time, especially frequent positions. Now, has this mess been fixed in iOS 9 or it's still there? You can try by yourselves! Thanks.
     
  2. BaggieBoy macrumors 6502

    BaggieBoy

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    The point of airplane mode is to stop the device from transmitting any signals, GPS is a receive only feature.
     
  3. perkedel macrumors 6502a

    perkedel

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    Location:
    California
    #3
    there's a privacy option where it uses gps for finding cell service, by default it's on. that's what it supposed to do.

    it cracks me up when someone claims this because they didn't read/know what the device can do, so it's the device's fault. did you really think apple didn't thoroughly think of that?
     
  4. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #4
    So, a GPS antenna activating during a flight is okay but any other antenna is not? I know that even the 4G antenna doesn't do anything to a plane, but it's a contradiction anyways.
     
  5. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    A Natural State
    #5
    Actually, it makes perfect sense. If location services is on, and the antennas are turned off, the phone is searching for a way to still locate despite not having wifi or cellular antenna usage. I would call it neither contradictory nor bad engineering, but rather "clever." YMMV.
     
  6. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #6
    1) How do you know the GPS receiver is on? The iPhone has several methods to acquire location (e.g. using nearby Wifi basestations). There is no easy way to tell when it's actually using GPS.
    2) As someone already mentioned, GPS is a passive system (i.e. the device doesn't transmit anything), so there is zero risk of interference with flight systems. GPS receivers have always been allowed on planes.
     
  7. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #7
    But what's the point of searching for a signal activating the localization if the phone has been set to airplane mode manually by the owner? That's the contradiction. It uselessly uses the GPS and drains battery.
     
  8. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #8
    I don't see why. If you are using an app that requests the location while in airplane mode, why should it not try to use the GPS receiver?

    But until you give us more details (e.g. what apps were accessing the location, whether Wifi was activated in airplane mode, why exactly you think the GPS receiver is being used), it's all just speculation.
     
  9. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #9
    It's not an app! It's a system service. That means that iOS itself wants the GPS to search for a 2G-3G-4G signal, while in airplane mode! That's the bad engineering.
     
  10. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    A Natural State
    #10
    As has already been mentioned, GPS is passive.

    The purpose of airplane mode is to disable outgoing antennas b/c of BS FAA theories about outgoing cellular transmissions on planes.

    These are two different things and not contradictory. To claim is much is like saying, "I can't eat bananas because I'm lactose intolerant."
     
  11. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #11
    I assume you mean "Cell Network Search". Apple has, to my knowledge, never publicly documented what exactly it does. I think it's not what many people think. It's very likely not used to search for cellular networks to connect to (the networks have their own way of doing that), but rather allows the phone to upload information about nearby base stations to Apple's crowdsourced location database, so it can be used by everybody else as an additional source of location.
     
  12. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #12
    FWIW, what "you discovered" is documented by Apple in a support note here.

    Based on the last line of their description, this looks like a feature that they relatively recently added to iOS (8.3), so I'd be surprised to find that they've removed in iOS 9.
     
  13. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #13
    It doesn't explain why the phone uses the gps to find a network when the owner has manually ordered to it not to find one.
     
  14. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #14
    This may be an explanation, but now there's another problem: Apple assumes something that it's not true. In Italy the toggle is called "Ricerca rete cellulare" which translates to: "Search cellular network".
     
  15. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #15
    Again, it's all just speculation due to the lack of official documentation, but it could simply mean that the phone searches for detected cellular base stations in Apple's crowdsourced location database to help quickly acquire its own location. The phrasing is pretty vague (and I suspect this is on purpose).
     
  16. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #16
    This feature doesn't seem to find a network for you to use.

    I've had my iPhone in airplane mode for 20 minutes, and this System Service hasn't tried to use my location yet. The Motion Calibration & Distance and Spotlight Suggestion services have both tried to use my location, though.

    http://www.clear-coat.com/blog/iphone-privacy-settings/
     
  17. Ultra AleM thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Ultra AleM

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Location:
    Italy
    #17
    Okay, now we have an explanation. Apple makes you think this is a useful thing for your iPhone but it just needs to send data to them, like for Maps. Perfect. I will turn it off. Thanks to everybody.
     
  18. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #18
    Without going into technical detail, the explanation on this page is highly unlikely. Cellular operators don't need Apple to track usage information and location updates in their networks, they can do it much better using internal methods.
     

Share This Page