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Strava not reliable for GPS tracking

Old 05-28-18, 05:51 PM
  #1  
themp
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Strava not reliable for GPS tracking

I switched about a month ago from Runkeeper(I used this when I only ran) to Strava based on all the other cyclists I ran into using it. I was able to export all my Runkeeper bicycle rides into Strava and everything looked good. I have a Wahoo cadence and distance device also, that Strava handled just like Runkeeper. I have an iPhone 6s. The first problem I ran into was that leaving my house it would at times take around 1/4 of a mile before the Strava app was able to get a GPS sync. So, I would have a straight line from my house until it synced. I solved this by reading the Strava GPS support thread and turning the phone on airplane mode and then turning off, after Strava had been started for a ride in my driveway. But now I have had two occasions where the Strava app has lost the GPS connection during the ride and I end up with straight lines from the lost point to the recovery. On both cases it recovered when I looked at the app and it went into a "starting ride" voice prompt, followed by it picking up from the last GPS point it had. So, I am not sure if the app just locked up or what. Both losses happened when I went into a fast food place or quick mart to get something. I never had a problem with this using Runkeeper. You would think that Strava could provide a voice prompt when it loses GPS just like when it says it is pausing. I will probably switch back to Runkeeper at this point, but Strava does have some nice features. And I did use both Runkeeper and Strava for free, I did not pay for premium.

Last edited by themp; 05-28-18 at 07:33 PM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 05-28-18, 06:48 PM
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str8jakett
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I had some of the same issues a few years back and it turned out to be phone GPS related. Was using an Samsung Galaxy S5 though so I can't offer any advice for what to check on your iPhone.
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Old 05-28-18, 11:25 PM
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Restart your phone. Try a hard restart if the usual soft restart doesn't fix the GPS sync error. Whenever my iPhone 4s had GPS errors it was due to the phone, not Strava, Cyclemeter or other apps. The iPhone seemed to lose sync more often than my Moto E4 Android phone.

Those apps just interpret whatever data the phone picks up. If the phone loses GPS sync the apps can try to interpret the data but it'll vary because it's just guessing at your most likely route. A couple of years ago Cyclemeter was better than Strava at interpreting routes where the phone lost GPS sync. But Strava has improved and is generally very good at interpreting our most likely routes, timing, etc., to fill in the gaps where sync errors occurred.

Some apps are very poor at interpreting GPS data -- notably the Android version of Charity Miles, which is wildly inaccurate compared with the iOS version. It's not the phone but the app causing the errors.

But Strava doesn't do this. Any differences I see with Strava are very minor differences from other apps run simultaneously on the same rides or activities, including on different phones during the same activities. These are differences of tenths of a mile over 20-50 mile rides, nths of a difference in speed, ride time, etc.

Another way to determine whether it's a GPS error or app error is to check your Google maps timeline. If you stay logged into your Google account and enable tracking in the background Google will log every activity. I'll occasionally check the GPS data from Strava and other activity apps against Google just to check accuracy.

And since Google runs automatically in the background after I've given it permission to do so, I don't need to remember to start it. This was handy a few weeks ago when I was hit by a car. It helped confirm my version of what happened because, unlike Strava, I can't edit the Google maps timeline data. I can delete it completely, but I can't modify and re-upload it to falsify data. Strava data can be edited, cropped, etc., or we can record GPS data through some other app (and modify the data, including falsifying) and upload it to create a Strava log.
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Old 05-28-18, 11:32 PM
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Agree with the above, it's the device not the app. I use a 6S and it all works impeccably.
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Old 05-29-18, 05:03 AM
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My Samsung Galaxy phones too. My S3 was so bad, I just went out bought a dedicated bike GPS (a Bryton 330). My S7 also has issues.
I'd even go further and say that Galaxy phones have GPS issues once updates are applied. Their great for everything else. Though lately, my S7 did get better with this last update.
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Old 05-29-18, 07:00 AM
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Might be more on how the device handles the app, than the app itself. I run Runkeeper and RWGPS on a 6S, as well, and have no issues with the tracking accuracy. My RWGPS tracks can even show which side of a street i'm on.
When you pause live tracking, that's when it gets funky. I've noticed that when I have an extended pause on RWGPS, that it burns up the battery at a much faster rate than when i'm rolling down the road; especially if I'm walking around with the phone in my pocket. Leaving the unit on the bike doesn't seem to have that effect.
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Old 05-29-18, 07:25 AM
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Might it be where you're riding? Strava on my Samsung does as well as a stand-alone GPS. They're great on the open road; go under a dense tree canopy, or climb along a rock face that blocks half the sky, and things go wonky until there's a clear sky view again. Both do a decent job piecing the ride back together at that point.
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Old 05-29-18, 07:27 AM
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Strava works much better than my old tracking app. Only time I have issues is cycling under bridges, but that is GPS hardware limitations, not app limitations. Agree with the others that something isn't likely configured right.
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Old 05-29-18, 01:05 PM
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My "Bike Phone" is an older Samsung S4 Mini.

I've discovered that I can leave it on Airplane mode (which also gets rid of the Sprint nag messages), and turn WIFI on and off when I need it.

In the past, I've had Strava crash, and act like it is recording, but not record anything for half a ride, but that hasn't happened for quite some time. My biggest issue is manually pausing it myself, and forgetting to turn it back on.

Or, the buttons at the bottom of the screen that I use to navigate are awfully close to the STRAVA control buttons. RWGPS requires holding the button down to pause, Strava just needs one to brush across the button and it stops.

The top of my driveway has tree cover, and the bottom is an open field, so sometimes I have to get out from under the trees before I get a data sync.

I don't get many of the Strava bells and whistles, so I frequently run both Strava and RideWithGPS simultaneously. I use Strava for routes, and ride tracking, and RideWithGPS for realtime data.

I have had an issue with RWGPS, annoying, but not horrible. I like to have it display the time of day, but discovered that inevitably I have to deselect the time, and choose something like power, then return to time to get it to display properly.
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Old 05-29-18, 02:23 PM
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It is mostly a location issue or phone issue . i have had nothing but fun using strava seeing times posted.strava does make a device check it out .
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Old 05-29-18, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by themp
The first problem I ran into was that leaving my house it would at times take around 1/4 of a mile before the Strava app was able to get a GPS sync. So, I would have a straight line from my house until it synced.

I've had a couple of those loss of GPS-"straight line" issues. What I finally realized was happening was that as the app was already in-synch and running...the phone's screen wasn't locked when I put it in my cycling jersey pocket. And apparently as I put it in, I touched the Strava screen causing the program to pause. So now, I always make sure that the app is running properly, that it has GPS synch, and that the screen is locked BEFORE I put the phone in my pocket.

And regarding how long it takes to GPS synch...you're better off (quicker) achieving GPS synch while standing still. The GPS function of the phone has to figure out where it is, and it does that quicker when its location doesn't keep changing. When you press the RECORD button...stand still and don't press START until you see the green GPS SIGNAL ACQUIRED notification. That sequence only takes about :15 seconds on my iPhone 6...and I don't have to put it in airplane mode.

Dan
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Old 05-29-18, 04:18 PM
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A year or so ago I'd lose some or all of a ride with Strava, but this year it's been remarkably good at recovering from errors. Occasionally when I've stopped to check a map, answer a phone call, text, snap photos or shoot video, Strava would have a glitch but recovered without losing much or any data.

Before Strava fixed that glitch I'd use Cyclemeter as my primary activity app, then upload the data to Strava. Cyclemeter was more reliable and versatile. Still a good app but I don't use it anymore. Strava does most of what I want. The main advantage to Cyclemeter was customizable voice prompts. For example I could set it to suit my preferences for intervals and repeats with voice prompts, no need to run the display. I also included compass headings to play every minute, which was very handy at night because I have no natural sense of direction.

A better phone, or at least one with better GPS and wifi detection, helps. I had more GPS sync errors with an iPhone 4s. Fewer with a Moto E4. The Moto E4 also picks up faint wifi signals better than any of my other mobile devices including my larger Kindle tablets. The Moto E-series are remarkably good values for affordable phones. With the E5 now out the E4 may be an even better value as a bike phone. You can buy 'em subsidized by Verizon or other prepaid services for around $40-$50, rather than $125 for the unlocked version. There are various ways to unlock the prepaid phones, including legitimately by spending around $75 in prepaid fees with Verizon, etc. (which I did). The Moto E4 should also run with most CDMA and GSM carriers. Verizon is CDMA but after I got the unlock code from Verizon I switched to another company's SIM on GSM and it works fine. The Verizon logo still shows but the phone works fine on either type of network.

Depends on the app though. Charity Miles is ridiculously inaccurate on Android, often crediting me with 10-20 mile walks when I've walked only a mile to and from the store. But Charity Miles is reliable on the older iPhone. Same with Wahoo Fitness, which runs very well on the older iPhone but is almost useless on Android. Strava seems to run well on both the iPhone and Android now, better than it did a year or so ago.
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Old 05-29-18, 09:24 PM
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I haven't had any problems with Strava on Android, but haven't tried on phones with known and widespread GPS issues. You can try using the Wahoo Fitness app instead - it supports syncing to Strava. That's what I use instead of the Strava app since I have the RPM cadence and speed sensors.
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Old 05-30-18, 06:56 AM
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Try resetting location services. My 6s GPS was bonked after OS11 and this fixed it. Canít post the link with instructions, too few posts. Basically:

Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset Location & Privacy
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