Apples’s iOS 5 Finally Adds Geofencing

Apples’s iOS 5 Finally Adds Geofencing

New post for iOS 6 – Geofencing in iOS 6
As I’ve been discussing for literally years, the concept of “Geofencing” – creating virtual fences around geographic points in order to trigger certain events when the barrier is crossed – is getting ready to change the way we’re productive, and the way we run our days. By using geofencing, starter apps on mobile devices have allowed users to do things like automatically checking to FourSquare (as in the iOS app Mayormaker), and be notified when their friends are near. Now, with Apple’s iOS5 mobile device software update, Geofencing functionality is integrated at the core OS level. Calendar events and tasks can now be tagged with a location, and an action assigned when the user is near that particular location.

I’ve been waiting for this feature for a long time, and I’m interested to see how it could improve my daily productivity, and eliminate backtracking as I go about my day. My iPhone 4 is actually in the process of updating to iOS5 now, so we’ll see how it actually works shortly.

From Apple:

Next time you think to yourself, “Don’t forget to…,” just pull out your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and jot it down. Reminders lets you organize your life in to-do lists — complete with due dates and locations. Say you need to remember to pick up milk during your next grocery trip. Since Reminders can be location based, you’ll get an alert as soon as you pull into the supermarket parking lot. Reminders also works with iCal, Outlook, and iCloud, so changes you make update automatically on all your devices and calendars.


Macworld’s first look at iOS5 Reminders

Video: iOS5 Reminders Demo from

***Update*** – Here’s my quick guide on how to enable geofence notifications in iOS 5

Want to geofence somebody else other than yourself? Check out this nifty geofencing tracker that beams back it’s location to the web:

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18 responses to “Apples’s iOS 5 Finally Adds Geofencing”

  1. So the geofencing is amazing. However… I can’t seem to set it on my iPad 2. The option is not even in the reminders app. I was under the impression it would work on IOS devices that are 3G enabled?!

    Am I wrong assuming this?

    1. Russell

      It appears the feature did not make it into the iPad or iPhone 3GS.

    2. There’s a similar app for iPhone 3GS, it’s called “Im Nearby!”. There’s a free version and a paid version, but both accomplish the task of a Location based reminder, or even a location based text message to anyone you want. It’s pretty useful :)

  2. my location reminder button is none existent on both iphone 3gs and ipad 2. all i have is an option under “remind me” is the “on a day” button that’s it…any suggestions??

  3. TGHosh

    Does anyone know what the distance is on the GeoFence. I set a reminder to go off when I arrived home (using my exact home address). It never went off.

    1. Yeah, I tested the distance for the reminders feature, and it’s between 2.4 and 5.2 km. It’s a joke how far off you have to be before the reminder gets triggered. I’m on the highway stuck in traffic before I get a reminder to “pick-up dry cleaning”.

  4. Justin

    The geo-fencing concept is amazing, however the flaw for the iPhone is that it requires GPS/location services to be active non-stop which is killing battery life. I’ve had to shut Reminders off from being able to use location services which renders the new geo-fence useless. This was one of the features I was looking forward too the most too…

    1. Agreed, it’s definitely a tricky issue. Now that geofencing has come to Apple’s iOS 5 , it’s really hit the mainstream. But for the concept to truly take hold, the issue of constant geolocation pinging and power efficiency needs to be addressed. Instead of polling geolocation from the mobile device, I believe geolocation needs to be pulled from the network, since it’s already mostly capable of keeping track of device locations in the background.

  5. Hello,

    is it possible to use geofencing with other applications?

    Because we are thinking about a new app at the moment.

    Thanks for your help

    1. Definitely. The new Foursquare app integrates it too!

    2. Did you have any luck developing your own app which integrates core iOS 5 geofencing?

  6. Same issue here, I was thrilled about this feature, but I fail to understand WHY you can’t set a distance for the reminders … My grocery store is like 1 km away as are most stores since I live on a buzy boulevard so most of the Time it’s useless.. And why wasnt the feature simply integrated in the calendar instead of being an independant app? I just dont get Apple’s logic sometimes, Pretty disappointing !

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  8. […] iPhone OS can be instructed to watch for the phone going outside an application specified “geofence” which ends up being more efficient than continuously sampling location. Ambient sensing also […]

  9. Amazing video!

  10. […] power demand, less battery life. But few of us care much about the hypothetical functionality of geofencing our diary reminders