Resolved (sort of) iPhone/Apple Watch Time Zone setting bug

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by r0k, Aug 18, 2015.

?

Has your AW or iPhone time zone ever switched on you for no reason?

Poll closed Sep 1, 2015.
  1. Yes, I think it was caused by... (please post dead spot for xx minutes, etc)

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  2. No, it's hard to believe this could ever happen.

    7 vote(s)
    87.5%
  1. r0k, Aug 18, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015

    r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #1
    [update: apparently Android suffers from this flaw, too! see post #10]

    This morning I reported an iOS bug to Apple feedback. Our group recently moved to a different building with absolutely no service. Verizon works because we have repeaters but At&t was totally and completely dead. This meant my iPhone was out of cell range for close to 8 hours yesterday. I had a doctor appointment at 4pm and I glanced down at my Apple watch and saw it was only 2pm. Plenty of time or so I thought. Then I decided to check the time on my work-issued Samsung phone and sure enough it was really 3pm! Needless to say I had to rush to make my appointment across town.

    It turns out that if iOS 8.4.1 on iPhone 6 (and 6+) loses cell service for an extended period, it randomly changes your time zone for you. My buddy in the next aisle had his iPhone 6 plus change all the way to Pacific time. As a workaround, I've switched of automatic time zone in settings->date and time but now I have to micromanage my time zone setting when I travel. :rolleyes: It's always nice to have the correct local time as soon as they airplane lands and they let us switch back on our phones. What makes this worse is the error propogated from my iPhone 6 to my Apple watch so I had two devices trying to convince me it was 2pm at 3pm. My friend also has an Apple watch and he experienced the same issue. Both his iPhone 6+ and Apple watch were running 3 hours late. Hopefully Apple fixes this. As far as a software requirement is concerned, I would say they should never change your time zone in the absence of a strong cell signal. If that means I don't get the new time till my plane gets to the gate then fine. That's better than getting the WRONG time just because my building is completely shielded from At&t towers!

    I'll only leave the poll running for 2 weeks. I doubt Apple will fix this by then but I'm curious how widespread this issue is. The agent I chatted with on Apple Support had never heard of this before. To me this is a glaring flaw for a device that is first and foremost sold as a timepiece, even if it is rather rare.:eek:
     
  2. nicho macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #2
    was your phone connected to wifi at the time? if it is, your work wifi could be playing tricks with the iphone's location settings (for example, a couple of weeks back when I googled a restaurant near me while in Paris, google insisted I was in the south of France. I can only assume it picked up my location from wherever the wifi hotspot i was using was routed through)
     
  3. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #3
    Yes my iPhone 6 was connected to strong wifi but it didn't help. I could send and receive iMessages and use the internet but any "phone" type features were disabled. My friend put iOS 9 beta on his iPhone 6+ and tried to turn on wifi calling and got "this feature is not yet enabled in your area."

    There is no reason for any cell phone to use some kind of internet protocol to set time since they are assumed to be "always" on a cellular network. Keep in mind the phone is perfectly capable of keeping time, the issue here is randomly changing the time zone not losing time.

    The reason I say this is an iOS bug is that the time zone should never change unless the phone gets a valid signal from a new time zone such as when my plane lands and I turn off airplane mode. Here in the basement office area of our building, obtaining a valid signal for some new time zone is impossible. What makes this more outlandish is I just got back from Arizona so if the phone got confused it should have flipped back to Mountain Standard Time (same as Pacific Daylight time) but instead it went to Central time and I haven't visited any city in Central Time since I've owned my iPhone 6. Meanwhile my friend's phone and watch randomly switched to pacific time. I found out this morning this happened to 3 of 3 Apple Watch users in my office, all of whom are on At&t, though I don't know what weird time zone the third guy got switched to.

    So basically all Apple needs to do is put in a check to prevent switching time zones during times where the signal strength is low. Instead, I have to walk around with a phone that is "locked" in Eastern time and I have to remember to "unlock" it by turning on automatic time zone setting when I travel. Perhaps they've already fixed this in iOS9. My friend reports this hasn't happened yet today since he put iOS9 on his phone. I doubt it's fixed because the agent I chatted with had never heard of the issue. I believe Apple is organized enough that if this issue had been fixed, support agents would be able to find it in their knowledge base and tell me a fix is coming in iOS9.
     
  4. nicho macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #4
    Did it happen to any iphone users on AT&T who don't have apple watches (are there any of those? maybe they didn't notice, if they didn't check the time til they left and had signal again etc.)

    There is a perfectly valid reason for a cell phone to use an internet protocol to set the time and you have referenced it yourself in the first paragraph. If companies could assume that a cell phone would always be on a cellular network, features like wifi calling wouldn't even be a thing. last month I travelled to the UK via Qatar from China. Did I want my time zone to update automatically in the airport? Yes. Did I want to pay extortionate roaming charges in Qatar? Hell no! So I connected to the free wifi and guess what... the time zone updated. I'm sure many more international travellers have done and will do the same thing.

    If your iphone is changing the time zone when connected to wifi and not to phone signal, then your phone possibly thinks it is somewhere that it isn't, polling its location incorrectly from the only source available to it - your "strong wifi". the phone is not necessarily changing the time itself. it is merely amending it from what it knows, based on where the phone thinks it really is. that's not quite the same thing (ie, it isn't telling you it's 2pm where you are. it's telling you it's 2pm somewhere where it is actually 2pm... that's not useful to you, obviously, but it isn't *wrong*.)

    I assume your work phone is on Verizon (hence the repeaters) and therefore even if android did have a similar feature (or bug, to you) to set the time zone automatically (i don't know if it does, never touched an android phone in my life) it wouldn't have the same problem, always being connected to a cell tower.
     
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #5
    Why isn't there a poll choice for "No, it hasn't happened to me, but I can very well see this happening"?
     
  6. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #6
    That's an excellent point. I can more easily imagine our IT guys screwing up some setting in our wifi that causes any phone that connects to it to believe it's somewhere it's not than I that there is definitely a bug in iOS. For instance when I use my work computer to go to web sites that ask to "use my location" it's almost always off because I think our company obfuscates location intentionally. But how does that explain my buddy one aisle away from me connected to the same WIFI SSID as me getting a time zone 2 hours different than mine? Also I found out yesterday that he did not get an incorrect time zone setting once he updated to iOS 9 beta so either: Apple fixed this quietly or our IT guys fixed this quietly. And yes there are dozens of iPhone users walking around without Apple watches but I didn't happen to talk to them as they are using their legacy timepieces to tell time they probably didn't notice or care what time was displaying on their phone. I know before I got an Apple watch this wasn't a factor for me unless I was travelling.

    When in a totally different time zone, I would use my phone for local time and leave my Citizen Eco Drive watch set to Detroit time. This helps me prepare "in advance" for jetlag. For instance, when returning from Arizona, the day of my return flight I got up at 330am which was 630am eastern and I had no trouble sleeping on time when I got home that evening.

    That would have been a good choice but I'm not going to bother changing the poll now. Polls can't be perfect so if there's an option missing, I think it's good enough that it shows up in the thread rather than change the poll after users have already voted.
     
  7. nicho macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #7
    hmm not sure how they got a different time zone, all i can think is either a roaming network with multiple access points or just some kind of location scrambling (deliberate or accidental) - no idea what kind of setup you have there but it's all possible in theory.

    given the potential random scrambling... it may not be fixed in ios 9 but rather, he got lucky that day? there are times you would want to change the time zone automatically based on location without cellular signal as i said, so i hope apple haven't completely removed it (they may have been cleverer about it though, perhaps using rough gps or last known location as a guide to prevent such a jump when you've clearly not travelled that far?)

    the only thing i could suggest to make sure you don't face the scheduling problem again would be to add your local time as a complication in the world clock for a week or two until you're sure the issue is gone away.
     
  8. Nell macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    London
    #8
    I've not had a problem like this (and am in the UK so only one time zone) but my alarm clock often decides I've moved to Germany in the night which is pretty irritating (but results in me thinking it's later than it is rather than earlier so less sleep but less chance of being late). And no, I have no idea why I still use an alarm clock when my phone does the job better.
     
  9. r0k, Aug 19, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015

    r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #9
    I talked to one of the network admins today and he didn't know about phones using wifi to refine GPS. I explained how I could do nav from my wifi only iPad using neighbors' wifi without knowing or connecting to their SSIDs. We did an experiment.

    He turned off cellular on his Android phone but left wifi on. The phone still thought he was in the same location when he went to google and hit "refresh location". We also checked on his laptop which was connected to our secure network and it was the same. So now I'm really stumped as to how the iPhone got the idea it was on another time zone. My IT guy said nobody had changed any router or access point settings since the day 3 of us went on a magical mystery tour of different time zones and the experiment we ran seemed to confirm that a phone that attempted to use wifi for location believed it was in Michigan not Illinois or California.

    I do think what you suggested at the end of your post makes the most sense. The phone uses its last known good time zone until it gets a new valid one. When mine changed, I suppose I could have made it to Chicago if I was on a Jet but there's no way my friend could have made it to California in that same amount of time without supersonic or hypersonic technology. Implementing the simple algorithm you suggest to not change the time zone by 3,000 miles when less than 6 hours have passed since your last good GPS is the way to go to avoid this nonsense, though my original suggestion to not change the time zone at all without a good (not fair or poor) gps AND a good strong cellular signal (-90db or better) would also work.



    That is irritating... I don't use my phone for alarms either. After Apple botched leap year several times in a row, I decided to stick to alarm clocks for waking up but I do have a Sony alarm clock that has an iPhone 5 or later charging dock. It also has an app that I can use to set the alarm which is much better than the buttons on the clock radio.
     
  10. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #10
    Well it's time for an update: Today I found out one of my Android-toting friends' phone thought it was in Torrance, Ca earlier this week. Then I talked to that WiFi admin guy and he let me know what's going on. Apparently our Wifi goes via satellite to a remote router on the other side of the country. My phone must have got a subnet served up from Illinois and the other guys must have got a subnet served up from California. The problem is corrected today and nobody's phone thinks it's somewhere else.

    This brings up an interesting point: iPhone 6 and 6+ are ready for human teleportation. After all that's what it would take to go from Eastern Daylight time to Pacific Daylight time by merely going down a single flight of stairs. Clearly the guys who design the two dominant OS's on smart phones need to rethink their algorithm for time zone determination. I don't think the average person is capable of traversing 3 time zones (3,000+ miles) in just a few seconds...
     
  11. nicho macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2008
    #11
    i had a hunch it would be something like that :D i guess, if it didn't happen to your friend on ios9, maybe apple have already rethought it and fixed it quietly :)
     
  12. krunberry macrumors newbie

    krunberry

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2016
    #12
    --- Post Merged, Nov 15, 2016 ---
    This happened to me earlier today, 2 different times. I thought I was running late to pick up my son from school. Then I checked my clock on the microwave and had to do a double take. Then it happened again. I turned off the automatic time zone setting. Then my husband had the same thing happen to him on the drive home from work. His watch jumped an hour ahead.
     
  13. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #13
    I'm wearing a Garmin FR 235 these days. I passed my AW on to my daughter. While I like AW, I need a running watch more than I need a smartwatch. I might consider switching back to AW someday but for now Garmin is working just fine. I even loaded a watch face that resembles one of the AW analog watch faces. I have turned OFF Garmin's smartwatch features because texts come in and meeting reminders pop up during runs and they are just as disruptive on the Garmin as they were on the AW. Since I'm training for the Boston Marathon in April, I'm really not a smartwatch customer these days.

    I haven't noticed any time zone issues with my Garmin even though it gets its time from my iPhone 7. I should also add that Garmin software is clunky compared to Apple but AW sales are down 75% while Garmin watch sales are up 300%. I guess there are a lot of fitness geeks out here who have come to the same conclusion as me: even with (somewhat) clunky Garmin software, fitness is more of a priority than smartwatch features and elegant software.
     

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