How to use Frequent Locations and Next Destination features in iOS 7

By , Oct 20, 2013

Today View Notification Center

A few days ago, I posted a screenshot of my Notification Center showing travel time to my Next Destination, something iOS 7 had learned about me without any sort of data input of my part.

A few people asked me how I managed to get this information in my Notification Center. I believed it was a commonly used feature of iOS 7, but apparently I was wrong.

In this simple tutorial, I will show you how to use the Frequent Locations in iOS 7 in order to find out information about your Next Destination. Privacy activists may want to skip this one…

What are Frequent Locations and Next Destination?

Frequent Locations NExt Destination

Buried deep inside your Location Services privacy settings is a feature Apple calls Frequent Locations. When turned on, your device will quietly keep track of locations you go to on a regular basis. For most people, this could be school, work, home, or any location that is frequently visited.

Without any action required from the user, your device will effectively keep a log of your regular whereabouts. This data is not only used to improve Maps, but also to provide you with location-related information.

This location-related information is part of what Apple calls Next Destination, a feature that will display travel time to your Frequent Locations in Notification Center. For example, if you go to the office everyday around 8am, your iPhone will detect the pattern, and after a few days, it will start showing the travel time to that destination in your Notification Center, allowing you to adapt the time you leave home accordingly, if needed.

I have to say that this feature is quite impressive. I go to Starbucks everyday around the same time. My iPhone has figured this out and now tells me how long of a drive it is from me, pretty much at the same time every week day. Maybe even more amazing to me, my iPhone has now figured out that my family and I love to go to the Original Pancake House every Saturday morning. So every Saturday morning, I now see driving time information about that destination.

Although it doesn’t do much if your Next Destination is right down the street, this feature can be very helpful for commuters. If you have to drive downtown everyday, it’s nice to have an estimated time to destination on your screen prior to leaving home for work.

How do you turn on Frequent Locations and Next Destination?

If this is not turned on yet, you will first have to allow your device to track your Frequent Locations. To do so, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations > Frequent Locations On. I told you it was buried deep inside!

Frequent Locations settings

Once this is done, you have to make sure that Next Destination is active in your Notification Center. To be sure, navigate to Settings > Notification Center > Next Destination On.

Notification Center Today view settings

From now on, you should be able to see information about your Next Destination in the Today view of Notification Center.

Next Destination not showing up?

You have to remember that your iPhone must learn some of your habits first. If you don’t go to a certain location at the same time on a regular basis, your iPhone will obviously not be able to detect a pattern in your various locations. It means that you must go to a place around the same time, on the same days, for a certain amount of time for your iPhone to establish a pattern.

Additionally, don’t expect your iPhone to give you information about your commute to work at 6pm at night when you actually go to work in the morning. With the data collected, your device is smart enough to understand that you don’t need information about your commute to work in the evening. It will show this information in the morning only (if you go to work in the morning of course).

Frequent  Locations Drive Home

Finally, you may want to add your address in your own contact card in your Contacts app. This way, your phone will be able to understand that this location where you appear to spend half of your life happens to be home. When you’re away from home, your device will be able to give you an estimated time of how long it would take you to drive back home.

Big Browser is watching you

If you’re a privacy freak, I doubt you made it that far into the post, but just in case you did, you can obviously turn this all off and make sure your iPhone isn’t tracking any of your whereabouts. Just follow the steps highlighted above and turn the features Off. That should give you peace of mind.

For everybody else, please make sure to let me know if you have any question. I’ll do my best to answer them.

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  • abdullah575

    it whast too many battery life !!

    • chumawumba

      Ever heard of a dictionary?

    • Glorin

      DAMN SCHOOLS

      • Tom

        Guys, with a name like Abdullah, I’m guessing English is not his first language. Let’s vut him a bit of slack.

      • John

        Most logical and honest reply I have seen on iDB ever.
        Good work mate.

      • Mauro Costa

        agree

    • CC-Dog

      It simply record the location every time you use location services. No extra power needed.

  • Michael Jay Delaney

    I’d like to see a “MapsChooser” kind of tweak in the future that switches it to Google data. SIDE NOTE, very strange that tapping the date in NC doesn’t open the Calendar (tapping an event in the Calendar Day View does) when Maps, Reminders and Weather does.

    • John

      I *assume* it’s because you can open calendar by tapping on the event?
      **checks**

      Nope, that opens the event and not just the calendar.

  • Slip

    Wait I don’t get this? When it displays the time does it take in real time factors like traffic and stuff into consideration or something? Because if it just tells you an estimate based on distance what’s the point? You’d already know since you go there frequently?

    • Danuel Carr

      I remember them saying that it did in the original keynote.

    • Adham

      Yes it does. If you actually click on that Next Destination text in NC, it will take you to maps, and give you different routes to your destination. The time they give is based on route that will provide shortest route given traffic conditions.

      • inknzvl

        Awesome! It just happened to me that on my way home from work I got stuck in a traffic jam which I could avoid if I knew there were an accident.

      • LawGeekNYC

        Now all it needs is to learn about the world outside Palo Alto, where people ride magical vehicles called trains and buses. Imagine it interfacing with the MTA to warm of track work or train rerouting. This could be awesome.

        Instead I spent twenty minutes futzing with it before finally giving up and realizing it only gives directions for cars.

        Funny, it can learn my habits enough where I am going next, but not enough to know I work in a zip code with about .00001% car commuters, not enough to notice that I lose satellite connection for 45 minutes a day and not smart enough to realize I’ve never asked for driving directions.

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

    It demolished my battery. Which is too bad because I’d like to use it.

    • Tobias9413

      Do you normally have location services on on your phone? And what iphone are you using?

      • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

        Have location services on for everything except passbook. On an iPhone 5. The frequent checking when I’m not on wifi is what kills it.

      • John

        Justin – It killed the battery in beta 1 and 2, but not recently…a silly question but could it be anything else causing the battery to drain because this seems quite strange.

      • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

        No. Had it on for first week of ios 7. Lost all power by 5 o’clock. Had if off the next week and battery lasted through till late night.

        The constant checking of location is nothing new in the battery loss discussion. And really isn’t surprising at all that it eats battery. It’s just a fact that GPS kills battery.

  • dpacemaker

    For everyone that says it kills their battery I think it may be something else. I use this on my iP5 and it does not drain my battery in any significance. I love this feature, and it works accordingly with traffic and construction. Awesome little extra feature in iOS 7.

  • Timothy

    Note: this feature doesn’t seem to be available on iPhone 4.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Correct

    • nedisonn

      and 4s

      • NEWYORKMINUTE10

        Works on my 4S from the day one

    • penos_o

      funny that they changed it…imho it was working just fine in beta 1+2 -.-

      • NEWYORKMINUTE10

        u gotta make people buy the new istuff

  • Falk M.

    Uhm this is a bit off topic and I had asked this via email to you guys before, but I got an email by Youtube now asking for proof I may submit my content for monetizing (it’s a howto video on OS X).
    I’m asking here, because I hope maybe you OR other readers can point me to something by Apple that grants folks the permission to submit content featuring their software for monetizing on Youtube.

    You said I’m good to go, but well, as I said, they (Youtube) want something written now and Apple don’t appear to answer such emails.
    Thanks in advance! :)

  • Christian Mejía

    Who cares about killing some battery! This is so cool!

    • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

      I care…I care.

    • John

      I care too. Doesn’t rape my battery but if it does, this is a MAJOR concern.

  • Adham

    I would believe this would not have a drastic impact on battery, since your phone is already gathering location information to begin with (unless you already had location services off).

  • http://www.jesusgb.com/ Jesús García

    I found it yesterday in my iPhone for the first time!!

    • Stefan

      Jesus, how long did it take in order to show up?

      • http://www.jesusgb.com/ Jesús García

        It was 3 weeks after going to the same place every weekend
        And you can´t control if this day don´t want to go there…

      • Stefan

        i completely understand, i just wanted to make sure whats the time frame since no one talks about it. I just turned it on so lets see how that works out for me. Btw, thank you very much for the fast response sir. Any other tips you’d like to bring up? I have everything on as the article states.

      • http://www.jesusgb.com/ Jesús García

        You´re welcome!
        The only you can do is use the iPhone at this place frequently to active the location, for example updating the weather at the Notification Center.

      • Stefan

        That’s a good tip to know. I do that at work and at home by default so i shouldn’t have any problems at this point. One last question: Will it give me the how long from home to work and work to home only? Or other locations as well depending on how many the phone had picked up up to 3 weeks?

      • http://www.jesusgb.com/ Jesús García

        It should tell you the places where you use to go: a restaurant, a shop, the gym… It says you the street and the number where is located and the time from your current location (anywhere) to there

        Personally i would prefer it takes the next calendar event location because would be useful, but… well that´s what we have jaja
        (sorry for the english)

      • Stefan

        Got it :) thanks buddy……..very helpful information I’ve gathered from you. no worries about the English part. Ill get back to you in about 3 weeks (Second week of March) to let you know hows working. Thank You once again for all your help and have a great the rest of your week.

      • http://www.jesusgb.com/ Jesús García

        :) You´re welcome

  • jack

    great Article. By the way, Peace of mind not piece of mind

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Fixed. Thank you

  • Tom

    i thought sabastian had a 5s

    • John

      I thought Sabastian would have connections and own an iPhone 6 by now ;)

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      I do have a 5s

  • faisal

    sounds interesting…
    *frequent location settings- check*
    *notification centre settings- … huh i dont have it*

    oh you mean u forgot to mention that this option was not available in 4s !

    • Mauro Costa

      It’s weird ’cause I have a 4s and all is there!! I bought mine in Spain and I was able to follow Seb’s instructions. Let us know

      • faisal

        looks like i still dunno why mine wont show..

      • Mauro Costa

        Only reason I can think is the carrier that doesn’t offer that option in the package. Have you checked with friends in the same exact situation ? Do their phones have acces?

      • faisal

        its not operator based.. so i got myself the 5s … i see the option now (but i know of another 5s tht doesnt show tis option).. lets see how well it learns…

  • Valent Cheung

    I do not have Next Destination toggle in the settings, how come?

    • John Doe

      I have the exact same question and its been driving me nuts. I have an iPhone 5, frequent locations and traffic are turned on, and have been from the very start, and quite a bit of data is being picked up in frequent locations. Still, I don’t even see a toggle in my settings!!

  • arijaycomet

    Based on what you are saying, the “Next Destination” feature ONLY works if your next destination happens to ALSO be a frequently visited location at the same time of day? That seems totally pointless.

    If I go into the Google Search app (on my iPhone 5S running iOS 7), and have Google Now enabled, it will access my calendar events and is smart enough to offer me travel time to my next destination. There are places that I go to only once a month, and they are on my calendar, with a full address in the location. However, iOS 7 refuses to show me a hot link to directions on the Today screen, because it is not a “frequent” location as far as every Sunday.

    Furthermore, I use my iPhone for work. I visit clients randomly, making the appointments in advance, but with no regularity. For me to map to their locations requires me going into the calendar, clicking on the address, which then loads over to maps. It works, but Mavericks was touted as showing you travel time and warning you “when you have to leave”– why doesn’t iOS 7 also offer then this same feature set? I don’t care about the battery life– this is an Android feature and once again Apple is still playing catch-up. Sad… :(

  • stereo.adulation

    I have an iPhone 5s. less than a month old. had it in my settings and used it with my 5. so when I used my backup to start my 5s, it hasn’t worked since. I running 7.0.3 and have also since 10/2, swapped this phone out for a replacement 5s and this feature still won’t work, even though it’s all on, as instructed above. what the heck is wrong?!

  • EgoManiacwithHair

    I don’t have a regular work schedule, it changes. But I keep track of my work schedule via calendar and that includes location information.

    Shouldn’t that also work to give me travel times for next destination?

  • Roy

    under “Remind me at a location” how to delete location lists ?

  • Ibds

    It doesnt seem to work here.. I work shifts, but my iphone seems to recognize my workplace and my home.
    However, it seem to collect very often my location. How often does it fetches locations? Some days i haven’t even 1.

  • Catie Vance

    What about when I am leaving work early, because I am sick, or taking a half day? It doesn’t seem to understand that at noon I’d like to drive home. Is there anyway to change what destination it shows or am I stuck with what it’s already learned about my whereabouts?

    • Misery Merriman

      iPhones are not psychic. If it learns that you go to work at 9am and travel home at 5pm it will give you travel times for those trips. If you have a half day and you want to navigate home, open Apple/Google Maps and navigate there.

  • Eric Musgrave

    Is there a way to rename the locations you visit? It has my home location labeled as ‘Work’ (it is actually quite easy living there, lol)

  • RobDobbs

    But how do I change it from driving to walking?

    • LawGeekNYC

      I’m trying to figure out the same thing. The iPhone is made on China, you would think they would have figured out by now not everyone owns a car . . .

  • Daniel Vuong

    My iPhone lists my home as work.. Whenever I’m at my university, it let’s me know that it’ll take 7 minutes to drive to work. My home is not my work. It used to say home, but one day it turned into work. I tap the map and it takes me to my home. How do I correct this?

  • Janina Jay Rocio Sandoval

    mine use to do it, but now that im back at work it wont do it, I had turned it off while I was on vacation but I did everything in these steps it wont work now. help? I DID EVERYTHING STEP BY STEP. :(

  • Dana

    is there a way to change the location services commute and other habits from driving to walking?

  • Lorraine Poirier

    I have an iPhone 4s. I didn’t know about this, and the first time I saw this, I was running 5 or so minutes late; I picked up my phone, accidentally pulled down the notifications tab, and there was the message: It will take you about 27 minutes to drive to –. It was almost creepy, like the phone was reminding me I didn’t have a lot of time to be mucking about. Anyway, it’s not at all predictable–in fact, I’ve seen it only once since then, even though I leave within 30 – 45 minutes of the same time every week day. Does it have to be a tighter margin than that?

  • Sohail

    Is this a specific feature for iPhones? Because I have an iPad 3rd generation & I don’t have this feature on my iPad’s settings under location services .
    Is this only me or everyone with an iPad?

  • Kara-Lei

    Is there any way to edit the locations? My locations think my house is my work and i’ve tried completely deleting with the ‘clear history’ button but all the old information keeps coming back. Thanks

  • Serena

    on my phone this morning it said “it will take you 15 minutes to get to work” how does it know that where im going to is “work”?? it could be anywhere

  • Mike

    question: what is the trigger that tells the Frequent Location to make an entry. It must have a minimal static location threshold to make that entry. In other words, it doesn’t record every time I stop at a red light or pause when I am in traffic.