Recently acquired an iPhone SE (after a factory refresh), and I have location services turned off.

Twice recently I've taken a train, and had the pop-up/splash screen offering to turn on do no disturb when I'm driving.

How does the phone know I'm "driving"? It would be easy to tell via GPS from my speed, but I'm sceptical it would be possible using an accelerometer (trains are pretty smooth). Is my phone still recording/tracking my location even with location services switched off?

  • 1
    My guess would be GPS. It can tell you're moving by speed, coordinates (do they align with known train/bus routes?), IP address change (if the train has wifi), cell tower triangulation, and probably many others.
    – fsb
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 13:42
  • @fsb That's what I thought, but it means the phone is recording/accessing my location even when location services are switched off.
    – thosphor
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 13:58
  • How exactly did you turn of location services?
    – nohillside
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 14:12
  • 1
    Most likely because it has to negociate connections with different towers...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 14:27
  • 1
    @nohillside settings -> privacy -> location services -> off
    – thosphor
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


It's not geolocation. It's detection of specific motion. See Settings > Do Not Disturb.

See How to Use Do Not Disturb While Driving


Since thousands people died in car accidents while using they Phone, Apple has introduced new technology to help preventing that.

It uses not your location, but your WiFi signal to know how fast are you moving from or to Fixed location WiFi hotspot.

Wi-Fi signals are electromagnetic waves, and the signals coming from, say, a Starbucks emanate from a router that’s not moving. If you’re in a moving car, your phone’s Wi-Fi chip could detect the frequency change of the radio waves coming from the router.

So if you turn of the WiFi it will not know.

Here is a nice article about that.

The do-not-disturb option will keep an iPhone's screen dark instead of displaying distracting notifications, but has noting to do with Motion sensing.

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