Developers say iOS 7.1 fixes issue impacting location-based apps

Location Services

It appears that an issue in iOS 7 that disabled the geolocation functions on apps that were force-closed by the user is being corrected in iOS 7.1. Developers say that in the latest iOS 7.1 betas, force-closing an app does not disable its location-aware functions.

This has been a major problem for developers since the launch of iOS 7 last fall—particularly for those who had location-based apps. Some devs have even reported that their App Store ratings have plummeted in the last 6 months due to the technical change…

Speaking with the CEO of Life360—an app that uses background location abilities to allow family and friends to locate each other— MacRumors reports that several developers sent Apple a joint letter regarding the issue and how it’s affecting their business.

Here’s the letter:

“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.”

Following the letter, the site says that developers noticed a change in iOS 7.1 beta 5 that has reversed the way iOS handles forced-closed geolocation apps. In the beta, background location services remain running, even after the app has been closed down.

I’ll be honest here, I’m not sure I want this behavior to change. For example, I notice that when I exit my ‘Perfect Weather’ app, it continues to use Location Services, draining my battery. But if I force quit, the Location symbol disappears from the Status Bar.

I guess we’ll find out what all of this really means when iOS 7.1 is released to the public, which is expected to happen in March.