Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

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Topic Author
Nyc10036
Posts: 752
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:29 pm

Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by Nyc10036 »

I bought a SwitchBot Bot.
It is a small device that presses a button.
Very useful for the light switch in my garage to turn on the light outside the garage.

After back and forth with tech support, I came to find out that Location service which was not mentioned in their instruction manual was required by the app to control the Bot.
In addition, the app won't even open if wifi is not turned on.

It was no easy feat getting tech support either.
I messaged them on Twitter and found that they did respond.
It was not clear from their website that this was a way to get tech support from them.

Anyway, why does Location service need to be on for something like this?

Bluetooth, wifi, and Location
happy77
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:22 am

Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by happy77 »

Wifi is definitely required for a smart device, for connecting to your router.
Bluetooth, not necessary, but may be required for initialization and later as a fallback channel when phone/app is nearby.

Location (on phone) definitely not required.
Katietsu
Posts: 4974
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by Katietsu »

I just googled this. What I see is that you can use the device in two different ways. Option 1 requires bluetooth and location permission. The direct connection between your phone and the Switchbot device is by bluetooth. If you are using an iPhone, Apple required location permission for Bluetooth alert to function. This seems to have something to do with iBeacon scanning. Option 2 is to use a Hub plus and enable cloud service. In this case, you would use WiFi. Neither bluetooth or location permission would be required. A hub that works with a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo and multiple smart devices over WiFi is probably the set up that more people are familiar with.
Topic Author
Nyc10036
Posts: 752
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:29 pm

Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by Nyc10036 »

Supposedly the communication between the device and the smartphone is Bluetooth.
This is great I thought.

I have an Android smartphone.
The Location service requirement is overreach in my opinion.
Smacks of snooping.

I am going to see if the device remembers the timer schedule as I plan on turning off the Location service on my smartphone once the configuration is completed.

The User Manual to be extremely poor.
No mention of the Location service needing to be on.
If it is a requirement, mention it.
toast0
Posts: 214
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:41 am
Location: Puget Sound

Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by toast0 »

Nyc10036 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 7:46 am Supposedly the communication between the device and the smartphone is Bluetooth.
This is great I thought.

I have an Android smartphone.
The Location service requirement is overreach in my opinion.
Smacks of snooping.
This is an Android platform requirement, unfortunately. Details here; but basically if they want their blutooth device to work on Android, it needs to do a Blutooth device scan, which requires location permissions because it could be used to determine location of the user. There's some stuff about maybe a companion device, but since Google's documentation never defines what a companion device is, I don't know if that's a smart watch, or you can mark any bluetooth as a companion (which would be nice), and anyway, it requires Android 8, so around 20% (about) of Android users couldn't use it anyway.

This causes problems with educational toys with bluetooth that can't be used with kids profiles on Amazon Kindle Fire devices, because you're not allowed to give location permissions in the kids profile, so you can't scan for the device. Helpfully, on kindle fire, it just looks like it's scanning but doesn't work.

The documentation for the product really should point all this out, but I'm not super surprised that it doesn't; documentation is a lost art.
Topic Author
Nyc10036
Posts: 752
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:29 pm

Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by Nyc10036 »

toast0 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 6:30 pm
Nyc10036 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 7:46 am Supposedly the communication between the device and the smartphone is Bluetooth.
This is great I thought.

I have an Android smartphone.
The Location service requirement is overreach in my opinion.
Smacks of snooping.
This is an Android platform requirement, unfortunately. Details here; but basically if they want their blutooth device to work on Android, it needs to do a Blutooth device scan, which requires location permissions because it could be used to determine location of the user. There's some stuff about maybe a companion device, but since Google's documentation never defines what a companion device is, I don't know if that's a smart watch, or you can mark any bluetooth as a companion (which would be nice), and anyway, it requires Android 8, so around 20% (about) of Android users couldn't use it anyway.

This causes problems with educational toys with bluetooth that can't be used with kids profiles on Amazon Kindle Fire devices, because you're not allowed to give location permissions in the kids profile, so you can't scan for the device. Helpfully, on kindle fire, it just looks like it's scanning but doesn't work.

The documentation for the product really should point all this out, but I'm not super surprised that it doesn't; documentation is a lost art.
Wow.
Thank you for the information about Bluetooth requiring Location service.

There may have been a question about allowing Location; I don't recall.
If there was such a question, I probably answered No.
Although if that was the case, why did enabling Location outside of the app work?
Oh well.
Not very well documented.
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GKSD
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Re: Bluetooth AND Location service to be turned on?

Post by GKSD »

Like mentioned in some of the posts above, in Android software, turning on location service will initiate periodic Bluetooth scanning in the background. This scanning is periodic but is done continually as long as location service is turned on. There is a very small battery life impact of doing this. I don't know how exactly the SwitchBot works but I would guess that when turned on, the Bot will start sending Bluetooth beacons which will then show up on your Bot app on phone and from there your app can connect and configure the Bot over Bluetooth link.

If you would not turn on the location service, the Bot app on phone would not be able to recognize that Bot is in vicinity because the phone would not be scanning for the beacons. Alternatively, the Bot app could have been written in such a way to initiate Bluetooth scanning own its own, instead of relying on location services to turn on Bluetooth scanning. I would guess the app developer did not want to spend time looking into Android and iOS and trying to figure out specific APIs to enable Bluetooth scanning.
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