Thursday, August 07, 2014

Configuring location sharing on an iPhone at minimal cost

For some special needs children location sharing is critical — but the last time I surveyed options they were all costly and troublesome.

For us location tracking hasn’t been that critical, but #1 is now bicycling around the Twin Cities. He’s a good cyclist (so far), but location sharing is becoming more important.

He carries an iPhone 4s (inherited from me) so we went with that option. We switched from H2O wireless ($40/year, but no data) to a SIM from ptel - America’s cheapest iPhone data solution for low data use. We did the tedious configuration needed to restrict cellular data use to only low bandwidth high value apps including restricting access to cellular data controls so he couldn’t simply reenable them.

This gave us “Find My Phone” location tracking - which is pretty good. (Always check that this is working after configuration). We locked his iCloud settings in Restrictions so this can’t be changed.

Find My (Apple download) is more convenient though. You can disable app deletion to keep it on the phone, enable shared items, then lock the settings in Restrictions. (He can track us too - least we can do.)

This setup is NOT for novices, but if you’d like a cheap iPhone tracking solution seek out a friendly geek and they can figure it out from this short post.

See also:

Update 10/26/2014: This has worked very well. He gets reward tokens for carrying his phone and leaving it on, and he’s happy with that. Being able to track his rides has been a huge anxiety reducer. There are points where we lose his location for a few minutes, but in general it’s reliable.

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