Geofencing - what is that, anyway? Some high-tech national border security measure?
No… it’s technology that, among other things, allows for the creation of virtual boundaries via GPS-enabled, location-aware devices. Geofencing technology has been around for several years, but used only for the likes of Bond, James Bond, and others of that ilk. For the rest of us mere mortals, this technology has been available on our iPhones as well as on our assisted-GPS, cellular equipped iPads.
You can see geofencing in action on your iOS device by using the Reminders app. Recently, I discovered quite by accident - and was delighted to learn - that the geofencing perimeter can be adjusted. Let me show you how.
First and foremost, you need to have Location Services enabled for all this to work. To verify this, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
Verify that Location Services is enabled globally and for Reminders
There you will find the master switch; make sure it’s on. Further down, you will see a list of all apps on your device that support Location Services. You can keep enabled just the ones you want. It’s probably a good idea to go through these and fine-tune your settings. In any event, scroll down until you locate Reminders, and make sure Location Services is enabled.
For everything to work as described in this article, you also need to make sure that notifications are enabled for the Reminders app. This is done via Settings > Notification Center.
Verify that Reminders is included in the set of apps that use Notification Services
Make sure that Reminders is listed in the Include section. From there, you can configure the Reminders notification just the way you want.
Back to the Reminders app…
In Reminders you have the ability to set what are known as Location Reminders. That is, you can be alerted about a reminder based on when you arrive or leave a location. This is what geofencing is all about!
Let’s use one of my own scenarios as an example. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to cleaning up my home office deep down in the bowels of my house. I want to be automatically reminded to work on this task each and every time I am about to pull into my garage. Thanks to the Location Services and Geofencing features supported by the Reminders app on my iPhone, I am alerted via a notification as I am entering into a pre-defined perimeter radius surrounding my house.
Here are the steps in Reminders for setting up a Location Reminder based on when you arrive or leave a location:
1. Add a new reminder by first tapping one of your lists where you want it to appear, then tap a blank line.
2. While editing your reminder, tap the Info button for a list of details regarding the reminder. Remember that to see the Info button you must tap on the reminder to enter the Edit Reminder mode.
The Info button is only visible when tapping a reminder
3. In the Details panel, enable the Remind me at a Location switch.
Tapping on the Info button takes you to the reminder’s Details panel
4. Tap Location, then choose a location from the list, or enter an address.
5. Select whether you want to be notified upon arrival or upon leaving the address.
Choose or enter a location and drag the geofence perimeter to modify it
6. You can accept the predefined perimeter of the geofence or adjust it by dragging in or out the black dot defining the edge of the geofence. This sets the approximate distance at which you want to be reminded.
7. Tap on Details at the top-left to return to the Details panel, where you can set other options like priority, which list you want this reminder to appear in, and any notes regarding this reminder.
8. Tap on Done at the top-right. You’re all set!
When the reminder is configured, all details are visible in the main Reminders app
It may be useful to know that you can add common locations to your personal info card in the Contacts app. When you set a location reminder, locations in the list include addresses from your card. For instance, add your work, home, and other favorite addresses to your card for easy access in Reminders.
Finally, don’t forget that you are also able to silence all notifications temporarily by turning on Do Not Disturb. This is configured in Settings > Do Not Disturb. For more details, see my article here on TMO, “Set & Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ in iOS”
Why not familiarize yourself with Geofence technology? Moving forward, it becomes a key player in advancing the “personal assistant” attributes of our devices – those that we could merely dream about in the past.