iOS 7.1 to fix issue with geolocation in force-closed apps

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According to developers, iOS 7 has a troubling issue with geolocation in which location-based apps lose their ability to track GPS coordinates when force-closed by a user. In the latest iOS 7.1 beta, this issue has been resolved, allowing applications to remain location aware even when closed by a user, says a report in MacRumors.This forced shutdown of location services allegedly has been an issue for developers since the release of iOS 7 last fall. More than an inconvenience, this issue has damaged the ratings and review scores of location-based apps as users leave negative reviews when the app suddenly stops tracking location without any apparent reason.

MacRumors spoke to Life360, a service with an accompanying iOS app that lets users track family members using geolocation, about this issue. The blog obtained a letter that the Life360 team and other developers sent to Apple to explain the effect on their app performance and reviews.

“Dear Apple iOS Development Team,

We are a group of Apple developers who rely on iOS geolocation services for core parts of our businesses. iOS 7 was hugely exciting to us, as new features such as Location Beacons, Background Networking, and Multi-Peer Connectivity give us the ability to do things we never thought were possible.

In previous versions of iOS, if a user killed an application in the app switcher, developers were still able to get geolocation in the background. With iOS 7, once a user kills an application, all processes are terminated until the user manually restarts the app. We appreciate the intent behind this change, which we realize was done to give users more control over what is running on their phones, but it has caused major unintended consequences. … Many developers who rely on background geolocation have seen their app ratings fall by over 3 stars.”

According to Life360, the developers noticed a change in iOS 7.1 beta 5 that changed the way iOS handles geolocation in force-closed apps. In this latest beta, the location services component of the app continues to run in the background even though the app has been closed down.

Some users may not like this change as those who take the time to use the force-close method of shutting down apps, do it deliberately because they don’t want the app running in the background. These power users may be perturbed that a part of the app is always running and can’t be turned off without shutting down location services in the settings.

Additional details will be made available once iOS 7.1 is made available publicly. The final release for the iPhone and iPad is expected to debut in March. It will likely contain a handful of UI tweaks that bring consistency across the OS, bug fixes and performance improvements.