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GPS activates on iPhone 4 in flightmode.

3543 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: May 28, 2012 3:33 PM by Nate Harrison RSS
TjopTjop Calculating status...
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Apr 23, 2012 8:37 AM

When I put my iPhone in flightmode the GPS activates (small airplan next to battery symbole). If I turn off 'Setting Time Zone' under Location Services, System Services, GPS turns off... Some problem with the time zone?

iPhone 4, iOS 5.1
  • KiltedTim Level 8 Level 8 (36,000 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 8:52 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    The airplane graphic indicates the phone is in airplane mode. NOT that the GPS is active.

  • b j t Level 4 Level 4 (3,670 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 9:03 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    This is the icon for Location Services.

    iOS 5: Understanding Location Services

  • b j t Level 4 Level 4 (3,670 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 9:08 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    Screen Shot 2012-04-24 at 2.05.56 AM.png

    Is this the icon your talking about ?

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 9:13 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    TjopTjop wrote:


    OK, but why does it activate when I put my phone in flightmode? I have looked at my friends phone, and there does it not activate when he turn on flightmode...


    In my own experience, in airplane mode, Apps that normally request information from the iOS locations services system will still show the symbol (purple arrow) as they are in fact running and are making requests for data from IOS location services.  But, since all radio's are powered off in airplane mode, they cannot ever get a fix, since the GPS radio is off.


    The purple symbol merely means some app requested location services data, but it does not mean it got anything back from the iOS service.


    For example, in ariplane mode, compass app runs, and the compass even works, but there is no location shown in the info bar at the bottom of the screen.  The purple arrow shows, since compass is trying to get location information, but none is actually available.  As soon as you turn off airplane mode, then compass quickly fills in the info bar with a location fix.

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 9:58 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    Okay, as I said, I think that any app that you launch that makes a system call to iOS location services is going to show that purple arrow when it is running.  It will not get any data back in terms of location information, but the arrow just means an app requesting location services is running.


    All of the position determination software on the iPhone is part of the iOS - no 3rd party app has any direct access to the GPS chip set and no 3rd party app can actually determine your position by itself. 


    Location services is not an app, it is a component of the operating system itself that interfaces with the GPS chip set.  All 3rd party apps that want to use your location information have to request it from the IOS location services function, which then hands them off the position information they will then display/use as they do.  So all that purple arrow tells you is one such app is running - it will continually query the iOS for data, but with the phone in airplane mode, the iOS has no position data to give it.

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 12:43 PM (in response to TjopTjop)

    I think it (the setting in Location Services for set time zone) does poll for location data fairly frequently (there was some complaints about that and battery life when iOS 5 first came out).  It is intended to set the time when traveling and out of range of any cell towers to get the time signal from, so I guess if crossing time zones it needs to update frequently to be sure you have the right time for the time zone.


    It may also be that in airplane mode, since it never actually gets any location data to act on from the iOS system, it just never stops pinging for the position data, and then effectively is continuously active, constantly asking for data it never receives.


    The "Settings -> General -> Date & Time -> Set Automatically" does not use location services - it simply gets it's time signal from cell phone towers your iPhone connects to.  It is the one in "Location Services -> System Services" that uses your location services information to set the time zone and correct the time signal from the GPS satellites to the correct offset for that timezone.

  • stalky Calculating status...
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    May 14, 2012 6:43 AM (in response to TjopTjop)

    I had a similar strange experience in flight mode on an actual flight from NY to Detroit this morning.

    My phone was in flight mode and I noticed my time had change to US Central time, 1 hour back.

    I also had the GPS active icon in the upper right near the battery indicator.

    I looked at Time and Date and the Timezone was set to Auto, and showed the current zone to be Chicago (central time)

    If the phone is in airplane mode, it should not receive or transmit, so this is curious.

    When I landed and activated the radios, the time corrected back to US eastern time, correct for Detroit.


    I've also noticed a peculiar behavior when I am in downtown detroit, just across the river from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Even though the ATT logo is showing as my connection (not Rogers in Canada) the Google maps units of distance switch to meters.  It's expecially odd, because the one thing GPS knows is your location and it's disconcerting that it would think you were in Canada when the blue dot is clearly in downtown detroit.  Maybe it just wishes it were in Canada.

  • Nate Harrison Calculating status...
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    May 28, 2012 3:33 PM (in response to stalky)

    Also having a similar bizarre experience. I am a New Yorker in Paris at the moment. I downloaded a Paris map app, which uses location services. I then put my phone in airplane mode. According to some above, this disables GPS, yet somehow my Paris map app is able to continuously update my location in real-time (just like the regular google maps app). How can this be? And am I getting charged for this? I hope not I thought that was the whole point of airplane mode. I am on AT&T, but their is no 3G icon in the upper left, or any European carrier for that matter. Only the airplane icon, and the purple arrow when I am using the Paris map app. Can someone clarify? If I am not being charged, then the ability to use GPS or something to pinpoint my location even in airplane mode is awesome!


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