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Where is the documentation of the options on the 'System Services' settings screen?

569 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Oct 17, 2011 10:22 AM by Michael Black RSS
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Oct 15, 2011 2:55 PM

The settings screen Settings ▸ Location Services ▸ System Services in iOS 5.0 contains the following boolean options:


  • Cell Network Search
  • Compass Calibration
  • Diagnostics & Usage
  • Location-Based iAds
  • Setting Time Zone
  • Traffic


I have never used an iPhone before and do not understand what each of these services do. Where can I find Apple's documentation of these options?

iPhone 3GS, iOS 5
  • Leann O. Level 3 Level 3 (635 points)

    Well, I don't know for sure, but I am guessing the iPhone is using GPS for all the settings you mentioned. What they do exactly, I don't know. I would guess cell network search chooses the cell network based on GPS, compass calibration calibrates based on GPS, etc.

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)

    I'm with you, some documentation of these would be nice.  The cell network search makes no sense to me.  Why on earth would my phone need location services for this.  It simply connects to the strongest tower signal within range that accepts a handshake with it based on my network settings.  Location has nothing to do with it?


    Same for setting the time zone.  If I have my date&time setting on automatic, it gets that from the tower which already knows it's own GPS location and hence the time zone for any device connecting to it.  That all comes direct from the tower my phone is connected to - no need for location services at all.


    To be honest, I disabled all of those when I updated to iOS 5 and my phone works just fine, exactly as it always did.  There should at least be a line or two in the manual explaining just why one might want to enable these.


    (I chose not to send diagnostic data as it seems a waste of my battery, and I have no interest in receiving targeted iAds either.  Campus calibration does not require location services to work either, so what exactly would enabling it do for me?).

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)

    As I say, I've disabled all of them and see no need for any of them.


    As far as I have been able to determine these are being used to build up location based databases for use in advertising, marketing and other commercial uses:


    • Cell Network Search - tracks the cell towers you are connected to and your location to aid in building up a database of cell phone tower locations and useage
    • Compass Calibration - this one I have no idea about.  It is absolutely not necessary for the actual act of calibrating your compassapp, and your compass app works fine with it disabled.  Why anyone would find it useful to know where I was when I had to calibrate my compass, I have no idea.
    • Diagnostics & Usage - this one is obvious, and is used to tag your location if you have chosen to send diagnostic and usage information to Apple.  I can see where it might help them to know where you were when you had some issue (ie. so they could see if the area correlates with frequent network errors or such)
    • Location-Based iAds - also obvious, but I don't want marketers targeting me with ads based on where I am,  I find internet advertising far too intrusive as it is, I have no desire to aid them in pestering me even more.
    • Setting Time Zone - this one I don't get.  If you have data & time set to "automatic" this is pointless, as they date and time (and hence time zone) will be set by your devices connection to the cell tower(s).  I have no rational thoughts as to what this being used for, or what good it may do.
    • Traffic - this is apparently somehow used to update a database of traffic patterns.  How it knows what the traffic around me is, I do not know - ie. what triggers it, I have no idea.


    Anyway, I have them all disabled, as I can see no rational reason to have any of them on.  They just needlessly use up my battery, and are sending data to places that I have no idea of or about, for purposes I have no clue about, all of which, going by the complete lack of information about them, is by design (which just irritates me - at least explain the dang things or don't bother even including them).


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