Reliability of GPS based device trackers?

My first steps in home automation were with Philips Hue, and I bought the app ‘iConnectHue’. This has a geofencing option, basically if I get within 500 meters of my house the lights turn on and I get a notification on my watch. This works like clockwork, I can pretty much predict exactly when I’ll get the notification on my watch when I arrive home, or leave home.

I have now moved completely to HA and I’m replacing this trigger with HA triggers based on location, as not all my lights are Hue.
I have a combination of Owntracks and the HA iphone app on my phone; both work, and both update my status correctly. I have the trackers in a group, so whenever the first one registers as ‘home’ the lights turn on.
I have set the exact same radius for my zones as i have for iConnectHue, and it is all running from the same iphone,

So in theory it should all work exactly the same - I get within 500m radius, the lights turn on and I can actually see when I arrive home. In practice I now come home in the dark and the outside lights turn on when I walk into my living room because that’s when the apps finally catch up (or trigger my third device tracker as my phone connects to the wifi)…

Is there anyway to improve he accuracy of these apps? I would think they all use the exact same iOS functionality for location tracking so i’m surprised about the difference in performance compared to iConnectHue. Or is there another location app I should be using instead of Owntracks / HA IOS?

This has been a source of frustration for me. Owntracks and the ioS App both report location, but they don;t geofence well at all. Very often with either of them, they don’t notice you are home.

The one App I have found that does super-reliable geofencing is locative. It doesn’t support location reporting but it is rock solid in home vs not home.

I’m tcurrently working on a sytem that has the best of both, but I really wish the iOS app hadd the geofence reliability of locative. If I had to pick one it would be locative for it’s reliability, although I do like the location reporting the iOS app does.

Thanks! I will look into locative.
I had a quick look and it seems like the app is discontinued but you can still download it, so will see if I can get it to work.

I don’t really care about location tracking, home/not home is all I need, so this should do the trick.

Yes, I noticed it was discontinued a month or so ago - big pity since its the only thing that really works that I have found. FWIW, I’m running the latest iOS and i works just fine.

You need to add iBeacons to the Owntracks and HA iOS app zones. When either app sees an iBeacon, it forces an update. This solves this exact problem, if the app doesn’t pick up the GPS change the iBeacon will force it to update anyways.

I put one in my mailbox and at my front door and haven’t come home to a dark house since.

I tried ibweacons with iOS and got variable results.Did you find them to be more reliable, specifically on the IOS app?

@DDK , which MQTT broker are you using with OwnTracks? The included MQTT broker or a Mosquitto installation? For some unknown reason I found location reporting and geofencing very unreliable with the standard broker, but spot-on with Mosquitto.
I have set a 300m radius and set a test notification on entry and exit, it triggers reliably ± 50m from the same point. I’m using an iPhone 6.

Yes definitely. I use both Owntracks and the iOS app and enter the same iBeacon info into both. The chances of BOTH apps either not updating GPS or not seeing the iBeacon are pretty slim.

There is no single method of presence detection that works 100% of the time IME. You have to combine a couple together, and it helps quite a bit to double up the GPS apps with an iBeacon.

Get multiple iBeacons and configure them all to broadcast the same thing, put that info in both apps. I have one in my mailbox, parking spot, and front door. I see the lights come on in my window every time I walk up to my place, never fails.

this works perfectly for me… however i am an android owner… i have 3 iBeacons at home. 1 outside and 2 indoors

Ok, thanks, I’ll take another look.

Geofency works perfectly on my iPhone. And doesn’t kill the battery. Try that??!!

I run owntracks on my Android phone, and I also have a location sensor based on WiFi presence (in my case, using a ubiquity unifi controller). I find that the WiFi based scheme is much more responsive as compared to owntracks.

Perhaps I don’t have owntracks configured properly to send location updates - I wish there was a simple configuration switch that made it much more aggressive in terms of reporting location when on external power vs. running on battery.

The other problem that I have is that I live out in the sticks, in the country and I don’t have very reliable mobile data coverage at my home. So the WiFi connection is noticed sooner than when owntracks has a chance to report in.

The primary problem to be solved is to turn on the porch light when my wife or I pull up in our cars and it’s dark outside. Most of the time, I find the wifi-based presence kicks in soon enough.

I’m thinking of maybe using tasker or something and having it push out some MQTT notification when it notices the phone has connected to my home wifi. But haven’t had time to chase after that yet.

For Android, I’ve found gpslogger to be much better than owntracks. It allows for more tuning and options like logging interval, distance filter, accuracy filter, “don’t report if not moving” etc.

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I’ve just implemented it - let’s see how it works over the next week :slight_smile:
thanks again for the suggestion.

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So you mean something like this?
Proximity beacons on this site:

or this:

If I understand this correctly these beacons transmit a bluetooth signal constantly and my phone picks that up and triggers owntracks to do an update. Is that correct? These don’t need to be connected to my HA installation or anything else? So as they work on battery I can just put it in my mailbox at the start of the driveway and i’m good to go.

I saw elsewhere that you can also setup a raspberry pi as a ibeacon, I assume that would work the same way? I’ll start with that then and see how it works.

I’m using the HTTP version of Owntracks, not MQTT.
Do you think moving it to MQTT would be more reliable?
I have MQTT running on my local pi (same as the one that HA runs on), but not exposed to the internet - therefore I figured the HTTP option would be easier to implement.

Thanks - I’ve just installed Locative as per suggestion from AIMC. If that doesn’t work I’ll give Geofency a try.

I’m using Owntracks over MQTT.
I’ve always seen HTTP mode as a second choice in the docs, MQTT was designed to be used for status reporting with mobile/spotty/low bandwidth connections while HTTP was designed to transfer web pages over fixed networks. My assumption is that MQTT would me more reliable.