Learn how GPS location is recorded with ClockShark and what the different settings accomplish
With the continued changes in mobile operating systems, it can be confusing to know how ClockShark is recording locations on the mobile app. This quick guide will help you understand what each setting requires, how these locations are collected, and where both admins and employees can view them.
When Does ClockShark Record Locations?
When ClockShark records a location is dependent on the mobile settings applied to each user but let's go over all of the possibilities. ClockShark will attempt to gather a GPS location on the mobile app whenever a user clocks in, switches jobs/tasks, starts a break (just the start break location, no locations are recorded during the break), ends a break, or clocks out. These locations are always attempted but, the locations will only be recorded if the user has their location turned on and ClockShark has permission to use it. ClockShark also has the GPS Tracking feature which will collect GPS locations about every 15-20 minutes while on the clock.
When creating or editing a user, you have these two options above to configure their GPS location settings. Now that we know when ClockShark records GPS locations, we'll go over what each location setting does on the mobile app.
The first option selected: Require location services (GPS) to clock in via mobile
When this setting only is selected, users must have their location enabled on their phone in order to clock in, clock out, and stay clocked in. On newer phones, this means that ClockShark must have access to the location with the "allow while using" Or the "allow always" permission and have Precise Location enabled. Older devices may have different options or simply an on/off setting. If location permissions are changed to the "deny" option or the location of the phone is disabled then users with this setting will be clocked out and will be unable to clock in until location permissions are enabled.
The second option selected: Enable GPS Tracking
When this setting only is enabled, ClockShark will attempt to collect GPS locations about every 15-20 minutes while the user is on the clock. This does not include breaks, no locations are recorded while the user is on break or clocked out. Note that this setting by itself does not enforce any kind of GPS requirement. It simply attempts to gather locations in 15-minute intervals, but it will not work as intended unless the employee enables the location permissions, ensures it is set to "Allow always" and for newer devices, has Precise Location enabled. If this is the only setting selected, then the employee will never get automatically clocked out based on location availability.
Both Settings are enabled
If both of the settings above are enabled, then ClockShark will record locations every 15 minutes with GPS tracking as well as with the normal location gathering on the clock-in, switch, start break, end break, and clock-out. Both of these settings will also require the user to give ClockShark the "allow always" permission, and have Precise Location enabled on newer devices. This is required so that GPS tracking will work properly. The "allow always" permission simply gives ClockShark access to record your location when the app is not currently on the screen. So after clocking in, you can switch to another app or go to your home screen, GPS tracking will still work correctly when "allow always" is set. It is important to note that we are still only gathering location information at the times mentioned above, no additional locations are collected based on this setting. When both of these settings are enabled, the user will be required to keep the "allow always" and Precise Location settings for the duration of their shift so all locations can be recorded successfully. If location permissions are changed or the location of the phone is disabled then users with this setting will be clocked out.
No settings enabled
If neither of these settings is enabled then ClockShark will attempt to collect GPS information on the clock-in, switch, start break, end break, and clock-out. These are simply attempted though, and if location services are off or not permitted, or for newer devices, Precise Location is not enabled, then ClockShark will not gather location information and the user can still clock in successfully. GPS tracking will not run regardless of location services are enabled with this setup. The employee will never get automatically clocked out based on location availability with this setup.
Where to View these Locations
Employees can always view the location data recorded by ClockShark on the Timeline. You can see your timeline by clicking the icon representing a GPS path on the Time Clock map. The timeline allows you to view all your clock-in, clock-out, start break, end break, and GPS tracking locations for the day so far. This is also available when you are off the clock and is a great way to review your own location data. Employees can also view all of their location data on the timesheets on the mobile app. Depending on their permissions, some employees may be able to view location data on the website Timesheets and the Who's Working Now pages.
Admins can view the clock-in, switch, clock-out, and GPS Tracking locations for all users on the timesheets on both the mobile app and the website. Admins can also see their own timeline on the mobile app as well as locations on the Who's Working Now Page.
What does the "allow always" GPS permission do? Why do you need access to my location all the time?
The "allow always" GPS permission lets ClockShark record your location data while the app is not up on the screen of your mobile device. Whenever you switch to a new app or go to the home page of your mobile device, ClockShark is not being actively used in the foreground. However, if the GPS tracking setting is enabled we need to be able to collect GPS information regardless of whether the app is on the screen or not. That is why "allow always" is required for the GPS tracking feature. This is applicable to both Android and iOS devices.
I received a notification on my Android device telling me that ClockShark can always track my location, am I being tracked all the time?
This is a notification generated by modern Android operating systems. They periodically let you know if any apps have the ability to always record your location. This is a great privacy feature but can be a little concerning. ClockShark will only collect your location while you are on the clock and the "always allow" permission is only needed for GPS tracking. When you receive this notification it does not mean that we are currently tracking you, just that we did gather location data while the app was not on the screen. However, this only occurs when you are on the clock. You can view your timeline information to see exactly what GPS locations ClockShark is recording.
My iPhone sent me a notification that ClockShark is using my location in the background. What does this mean and do I need to continue sharing this?
Just like the Android notification above, this is something that Apple will do periodically to let you know which apps are collecting location information in the background. This just means that the app gathered location data while the app was not present on the screen. ClockShark will record these locations in the background if the GPS tracking feature is turned on. If you use the GPS tracking feature you will need to keep your device in the "always allow" sharing permission. The location gathering still only takes your GPS location while you are on the clock and at normal tracking intervals. This is just a notification reminding you of your permissions, receiving this notification does not mean that ClockShark is currently recording your location. You can always view your timeline and timesheet information to see exactly what GPS locations ClockShark is recording.
What does the banner at the top of the screen mean for iOS devices?
The blue banner you see at the top of the phone lets you know when something is using your location but isn't currently open on the screen. Whenever ClockShark is using your location but isn't opened on the screen you will see this banner.
How do GPS Fence clock in/out reminders work and are they tracking me off the clock?
The GPS Fence reminders work by saving virtual fences around job sites. When you log into the ClockShark mobile app, these virtual fence locations are saved directly to your phone. When your phone realizes that it has crossed in or out of one of these geofences then it prompts the ClockShark app to send you a notification reminding you to clock in or clock out.
The Geofence alert is a local notification sent from the app on the mobile device, and not the ClockShark server. ClockShark cannot track someone from these alerts because the ClockShark server has no idea that the notification was sent - only the phone knows that the notification was sent.
Why is Precise Location required to record location for newer devices?
Precise Location was introduced with Android 12 and iOS 14, giving Android and iPhone users greater control for sharing location information with apps. If Precise Location is disabled for an app, while location permissions are still enabled, the device will provide the app with an approximate location of the user. Because an approximate location is not an individual’s true location, ClockShark treats approximate locations as if the device has location services disabled, so that an inaccurate location will not be recorded.
If you have any questions along the way please feel free to contact our Support team and get ready for answers!