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Recording your tracklog while the app is running in the background

The Memory-Map app has the ability to record a tracklog using the GPS while you are using another app or while the device is turned off.

However, Apple is continually developing the operating system to aggressively prevent background use of the GPS. They do this in order to protect your privacy and to preserve the battery life of the device, but it is very frustrating for the developer as well as the user, if you want the device to reliably record a tracklog.

The information below is current as of iOS 13.4 (May 2020), but I would expect the details to change.

  1. First open the Memory-Map app, go to the flip side page, and tap the settings button in the toolbar. Tap GPS Settings.
  2. Where it says "Record track while the app is backgrounded", select one of the background activity types (more about these options below). Tap OK after reading the power use warning.
  3. Now, close Memory-Map by pressing the home bar/button, then swipe up and swipe away the Memory-Map app to stop the app from running (if you don't know how to do that, then press-and-hold the power button to power-off the device, then turn it on again).
  4. Then go to the iOS Settings app. Scroll down to the list of apps (on the left panel on the iPad) and tap the Memory-Map app settings.
  5. Under "Allow Memory-Map to access:" tap "Location".
  6. There are three options: "Never", "Ask Next Time", and "While Using the App".  If you want to allow the app to record in the background you have to select "Ask Next Time".
  7. Then go back to the home screen and launch the Memory-Map app.
  8. It should prompt you "Allow Memory-Map to use your location?". You have to select "Allow Once". iOS 12 had an option to allow "Always" but that has been removed in iOS 13.
  9. Note: If you select "Allow While Using App", it remembers you choice and does not prompt you again, but it does not permit use of the GPS in the background. If you have selected "Allow While Using" and some time later you want to record a track in the background, you have to go back to step 3. Kill the app and change the settings to "Ask Next Time"
  10. On the flipside, use the Start Logging or Stop Logging button to start and stop recording the tracklog.
  11. Press the home button. If it is recording in the background you should see a special blue notification icon at the top right.

In the GPS settings, you have to select one of the "Background Activity Types" (Automobile, Walk/Run/Cycle, Boat/Train/Plane, Unknown, or Off).  Apple doesn't give any documentation of how these modes work, but their intention is to automatically stop the app when the specified activity ceases. For example, if you select the Walk/Run/Cycle mode, and you stop for lunch at a pub, or if you get in a car and start driving, it is supposed to automatically stop recording. There is no mode that is allows the GPS to run indefinitely in the background no matter what. To get around this, I can only recommend that you pull up the app and let it acquire the GPS after any change in the tempo of your activity, for example after you stop for a rest. You may have to try different Activity Types to find which one works best for your activity.

Checklist for background track recording:

  • Did the app prompt for permission when you launched it, and did you tap "Allow Once"?
  • GPS Settings has an appropriate Background Activity Type?
  • Logging button on flipside shows "Stop Logging"  (ie, recording is on)?
  • Blue location notification is shown top right in the home screen?
  • Launch the app to confirm it is running after every change in your level of activity?