Tips to get a solid SpotWalla based track

Chris Wiltshire

Premier Member
IBA Member
#1
Originally posted to facebook group - it was suggested that I share this here in the Forums too...

I was talking to Howard Entman about our recent rides this morning, and specifically about how to get the best results using a cellphone to log reliably into SpotWalla. I think getting good, consistent results basically boils down to the following:
  • Close all unwanted apps before you start (a fresh, forced-reboot on your phone cannot hurt things!).
  • Disable any power saving settings (android).
  • Mount your phone where you can see it.
  • Use an on-bike charging system and keep it charging. (On iOS disable 'Optimised Battery Charging' under Battery -> Battery Health).
  • Run another navigation app / tracker or a music app in order to prevent your screen from locking / your phone going into standby-mode.
With all of the above, your phone should stay awake, charging, with GPS active and your SWConnect, or Bubbler app should be perfectly happy running in the background.
  • Save a bookmark to your SpotWalla Trip and check it at every stop to make sure it's still contributing tracking points.
Here's my recent SS3000K track from my iPhone 12, without a single missing point across 48 hours: https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=2558f5ff25ee73c4d8&hoursPast=0&showAll=yes

If you've got other suggestions on what works for you to solve specific issues, then drop a note in the comments... Cheers.

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Vlad

Premier Member
#2
You can disable an iPhones auto lock feature in display settings, this should make your phone stay awake all the time. Just remember to turn it back on when you’ve finished your ride.
Nice ride there Chris, you could go a long way to find a more entertaining route.
 

Chris Wiltshire

Premier Member
IBA Member
#3
You can disable an iPhones auto lock feature in display settings, this should make your phone stay awake all the time. Just remember to turn it back on when you’ve finished your ride.
Nice ride there Chris, you could go a long way to find a more entertaining route.
Hi Scott - Sometimes, like if you connect your iPhone to an exchange based email account, you lose the ability to opt for it to not auto-lock. That's my situation, it requires both a passcode and that it auto-locks after a specified period of inactivity... - In my situation, the only way to keep it unlocked and active is to use some other program which has permission in the OS to keep it open and active, like a navigational app, or a music playback app. - Here's a picture of my Display-lock settings.

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#4
I've been using SWconnect on several different iPhones since about 2017. It has always tracked me perfectly without have to do any of the things listed in the first post. I just open the app, Enable Tracking and go. It's usually in my jacket pocket (screen off), sometimes charging, sometimes not. Always have other apps running, i.e. music, podcast and maps. The only problem I have is I sometimes forget to turn tracking on. YMMV.

My tracked rides... https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=paulcb
 

Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
#5
I know this isn't 100% in keeping with the spirit of the thread, but I used to have the same sorts of problems that you did re: using cell phones reliably.

Ultimately, the way that I was able to ensure stable, reliable coverage was to not use cell phones at all, and instead use a satellite tracker (in my case, a Spot X).

I understand the arguments in favor of using a cell phone, but in my experience the cost of a satellite tracker was outweighed by the stability, physical robustness, lack of reliance on cell service, and emergency capability that a cell phone just can't guarantee.

Not trying to incite an argument, just giving you food for thought. Cell phones always made me have to find a work-around. My Spot X just WORKS.
 

JAORE

Premier Member
#6
Thanks. MOST times Spotwalla/Bubbler has worked well for me. But your tips would have helped me on a recent one when the phone went to sleeper mode. Thankfully not on an IBA ride.
 

Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
#7
If cell phone operation is a priority, I can recommend the FollowMee app. I used it for years before I switched to the Spot X. It's lightweight, runs in the background at all times (i.e. you won't even see it running and it doesn't need the screen lit), doesn't drain resources heavily, and is as reliable as your cell phone coverage. It connects with Spotwalla, too, or at least it did when I used it. In fact, I got an IBA ride certified with it.

They used to have a freemium pay model in the past; I don't know if that's still the case. You'd have to check on that.

I only quit using them because my geographical area and cell provider don't always play well together, and I wanted satellite-based tracking for my wife's peace of mind. I used that app for years and never had a problem with it.
 

OldCrow

Premier Member
#8
Interesting thread. Here is my data point. I use an old iPad2 running iOS 9something which has the GPS unit. It has no cell phone contract so can only connect to Wifi. I've used SWconnect on a dozen rides of various types since 2017. It sits in a tank bag with constant battery source, the screen will sleep but the app runs and stores the GPS tracking points. Once home I let it login to my local router and it uploads the points to Spotwalla. So far so good. The iPad2 is just a dedicated cheap tracking device. I use a simple flip phone for talky-talk and a separate Garmin for nav.
 

kerrizor

Premier Member
#9
I've been using SWconnect on several different iPhones since about 2017. It has always tracked me perfectly without have to do any of the things listed in the first post. I just open the app, Enable Tracking and go. It's usually in my jacket pocket (screen off), sometimes charging, sometimes not. Always have other apps running, i.e. music, podcast and maps. The only problem I have is I sometimes forget to turn tracking on. YMMV.

My tracked rides... https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=paulcb
There was, IIRC, a version of SWConnect (iOS) that absolutely needed to be in the foreground at all times; I haven't had any tracking issues myself since that bug was fixed. Still, YMMV; I do have a checklist for gas stops and one of the last items is "Check SWConnect/Spotwalla"... but it hasn't failed me in a couple years.

Still, I do agree with @Shawn K as well - if you really are relying on satellite tracking (rallies, premier rides, etc) a dedicated tracker should be on your wishlist.
 
#10
I use an inexpensive Track phone. Do I need to have my data plan on the entire trip to use Bubbler? It failed on me more times than it worked last summer and I can only assume I am doing something really wrong. Thanks for your tips. I will use them all next summer.
 

Stephen!

Fly Guy
Premier Member
IBA Member
#11
I use an inexpensive Track phone. Do I need to have my data plan on the entire trip to use Bubbler? It failed on me more times than it worked last summer and I can only assume I am doing something really wrong. Thanks for your tips. I will use them all next summer.
Are you using Bubbler or Bubbler Pro? The free version has a very small limit on the number of points it will store internally while unable to communicate with Spotwalla. The Pro version will store 1500 points (about 5¼ days straight at the minimum 5-minute interval) before it needs a network connection.