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Cordova Background Geolocation · npm npm

The most sophisticated background location-tracking & geofencing module with battery-conscious motion-detection intelligence for iOS and Android.

The plugin's Philosophy of Operation is to use motion-detection APIs (using accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer) to detect when the device is moving and stationary.

  • When the device is detected to be moving, the plugin will automatically start recording a location according to the configured distanceFilter (meters).

  • When the device is detected be stationary, the plugin will automatically turn off location-services to conserve energy.

Also available for React Native, NativeScript and pure native apps.

The Android plugin requires purchasing a license. However, it will work for DEBUG builds. It will not work with RELEASE builds without purchasing a license.

(2017) This plugin is supported full-time and field-tested daily since 2013.

Home Settings


🔷 Installing the plugin

From npm

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt

Phonegap Build

  <plugin name="cordova-background-geolocation-lt" source="npm">

From master (latest, greatest.)

$ cordova plugin add

🔷 Android SDK

If building from your local machine (as you should be), ensure you have the following items installed or updated in Android SDK Manager

SDK Tools

SDK Platforms

🔷 Using the Plugin

The plugin creates the object window.BackgroundGeolocation. See API Documentation for details

Ionic 2+ and Typescript

Sample Implementation

platform.ready().then(() => {
  let bgGeo = (<any>window).BackgroundGeolocation;

#configure the Plugin

There are three simple steps to using BackgroundGeolocation:

  1. Listen to events
  2. #configure the plugin
  3. #start the plugin
// 1.  Listen to events
bgGeo.on('location', onLocation, onLocationFailure);
bgGeo.on('motionchange', onMotionChange);
bgGeo.on('providerchange', onProviderChange);
// 2. Configure the plugin.  
  desiredAccuracy: 0,   // <-- Config params
  distanceFilter: 50
}, function(state) {    // <-- Current state provided to #configure callback
  // 3.  Start tracking
  console.log('BackgroundGeolocation is configured and ready to use');
  if (!state.enabled) {
    bgGeo.start(function() {
      console.log('- BackgroundGeolocation tracking started');
// NOTE:  Do NOT execute any API methods until the callback to #configure
// method above executes!
// For example, do not do this here:
// bgGeo.getCurrentPosition()   // <-- NO!
// bgGeo.getState();            // <-- NO!

⚠️ Do not execute any API method (aside from #getState or adding event-listeners with #on) before the callbackFn to the #configure method fires, as noted above.

🔷 Example

// As with all Cordova plugins, you must configure within an #deviceready callback.
function onDeviceReady() {
    // Get a reference to the plugin.
    var bgGeo = window.BackgroundGeolocation;
    //This callback will be executed every time a geolocation is recorded in the background.
    var callbackFn = function(location) {
        var coords = location.coords;
        var lat    = coords.latitude;
        var lng    = coords.longitude;
        console.log('- Location: ', JSON.stringify(location));        
    // This callback will be executed if a location-error occurs.  Eg: this will be called if user disables location-services.
    var failureFn = function(errorCode) {
        console.warn('- BackgroundGeoLocation error: ', errorCode);
    // Listen to location events & errors.
    bgGeo.on('location', callbackFn, failureFn);
    // Fired whenever state changes from moving->stationary or vice-versa.
    bgGeo.on('motionchange', function(isMoving) {
      console.log('- onMotionChange: ', isMoving);
    // Fired whenever a geofence transition occurs.
    bgGeo.on('geofence', function(geofence) {
      console.log('- onGeofence: ', geofence.identifier, geofence.location);
    // Fired whenever an HTTP response is received from your server.
    bgGeo.on('http', function(response) {
      console.log('http success: ', response.responseText);
    }, function(response) {
      console.log('http failure: ', response.status);
    // BackgroundGeoLocation is highly configurable.
        // Geolocation config
        desiredAccuracy: 0,
        distanceFilter: 10,
        stationaryRadius: 25,
        // Activity Recognition config
        activityRecognitionInterval: 10000,
        stopTimeout: 5,
        // Application config
        debug: true,  // <-- Debug sounds & notifications.
        stopOnTerminate: false,
        startOnBoot: true,
        // HTTP / SQLite config
        url: "",
        method: "POST",
        autoSync: true,
        maxDaysToPersist: 3,
        headers: {  // <-- Optional HTTP headers
            "X-FOO": "bar"
        params: {   // <-- Optional HTTP params
            "auth_token": "maybe_your_server_authenticates_via_token_YES?"
    }, function(state) {
        // This callback is executed when the plugin is ready to use.
        console.log("BackgroundGeolocation ready: ", state);
        if (!state.enabled) {
    // The plugin is typically toggled with some button on your UI.
    function onToggleEnabled(value) {
        if (value) {
        } else {

🔷 Configuring the plugin

After adding the plugin, your config.xml will contain the following block, containing a number of <variable /> for you to configure (eg: LICENSE):

<widget id="">
  <plugin name="cordova-background-geolocation">
    <variable name="LICENSE" value="YOUR_LICENSE_KEY" />
    <variable name="GOOGLE_API_VERSION" value="11.6.0" />
    <variable name="APPCOMPAT_VERSION" value="26.1.0" />
    <variable name="LOCATION_ALWAYS_AND_WHEN_IN_USE_USAGE_DESCRIPTION" value="Always use is required for background location tracking" />
    <variable name="LOCATION_ALWAYS_USAGE_DESCRIPTION" value="Background location-tracking is required" />
    <variable name="LOCATION_WHEN_IN_USE_USAGE_DESCRIPTION" value="Background location-tracking is required" />
    <variable name="MOTION_USAGE_DESCRIPTION" value="Using the accelerometer increases battery-efficiency by intelligently toggling location-tracking only when the device is detected to be moving" />

To configure these <variable />, you simply re-add the plugin, providing desired --variable to the cordova plugin add command. You can combine multiple --variable together in one command or execute cordova plugin add successivly.

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt --variable VARIABLE_NAME=value

$ cordova platform remove android
$ cordova platform add android

❗️ To apply changes to these <variable />, you must remove/re-add the cordova platform(s)

Configuration Variables

Name Default Description
🔵 iOS
LOCATION_ALWAYS_AND_WHEN_IN_USE_USAGE_DESCRIPTION "CHANGEME" [iOS 11+] Customize the message displayed to the user when AlwaysAndWhenInUse location authorization is requested. This variable is added to your iOS .plist
LOCATION_WHEN_IN_USE_USAGE_DESCRIPTION "CHANGEME" Customize the message displayed to the user when WhenInUse location authorization is requested. This variable is added to your iOS .plist
LOCATION_ALWAYS_USAGE_DESCRIPTION "CHANGEME" [deprecated in 11.0] Customize the message displayed to the user when Always location authorization is requested. This variable is added to your iOS .plist
MOTION_USAGE_DESCRIPTION "CHANGEME" Customize the message displayed to the user when "Motion & Fitness" permission is requested. The plugin is highly optimized to use iOS CMMotionActivityManager API for intelligently toggling location-services only when the plugin is detected to be moving / stationary.
BACKGROUND_MODE_LOCATION "location" Adds the iOS background-mode location to your iOS .plist file. This is the default behaviour. To disable this, (ie: for those using useSignificantChangesOnly), provide an empty-string. ⚠️ If you do want the default behaviour of background-location updates, simply IGNORE this variable -- Do NOT even provide it.
🔵 Android
LICENSE "" Your Android license key generated from Product Dashboard
GOOGLE_API_VERSION 11.6.0 Sets the desired version of play-services-location dependency. Minimum 11.2.0 is required. Many other plugins require play-services dependencies, (eg: cordova-plugin-googlemaps, phonegap-plugin-push): If the version of play-services and/or firebase is not aligned to the same version for ALL plugins, your build will fail.
APPCOMPAT_VERSION 26.1.0 Sets the desired version of dependency. Many other plugins can require a different version of appcompat-v7 dependeny: If the version of appcompat-v7 is not aligned to the same version for ALL plugins, your build will fail.

Configuring Multiple Variables at Once

Use the \ character followed by [ENTER] in console to configure multiple variables with one command:

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt \
  --variable LICENSE=your_key_here \
  --variable GOOGLE_API_VERSION=11.6.0 \
  --variable APPCOMPAT_VERSION=27.0.0 \
  --variable MOTION_USAGE_DESCRIPTION="My motion usage description"
$ cordova platform remove android
$ cordova platform add android
$ cordova platform remove ios
$ cordova platform add ios

Configuring your LICENSE key

After generating your Android license-key in the Product Dashboard, Configure the LICENSE variable:

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt --variable LICENSE=your_key_here
// Remove / re-add the Android platform
$ cordova platform remove android
$ cordova platform add android

Configuring play-services Version

Many other plugins require Google Play Services and/or Firebase libraries. This is a common source of Android build-failures, since the play-services library version must be aligned to the same version for all plugins. For example, when one plugin imports version 11.0.1 and another one imports 11.2.0, a gradle build failure will occur. Use the GOOGLE_API_VERSION to align the required play-services version with other plugins.

⚠️ The plugin requires a minimum version of 11.2.0.

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt --variable GOOGLE_API_VERSION=11.2.0
$ cordova platform remove android
$ cordova platform add android

Configuring for useSignificantChangesOnly

For those using useSignificantChangesOnly: true, possibly because Apple denied your use of the background location capability, you can disable background location by providing the BACKGROUND_MODE_LOCATION <variable /> with an empty-string:

$ cordova plugin add cordova-background-geolocation-lt --variable BACKGROUND_MODE_LOCATION=""
$ cordova platform remove ios
$ cordova platform add ios

🔷 Advanced Sample Application

A fully-featured SampleApp is available in its own public repo. After first cloning that repo, follow the installation instructions in the README there. This SampleApp includes a settings-screen allowing you to quickly experiment with all the different settings available for each platform.

If you're using XCode, boot the SampleApp in the iOS Simulator and enable Debug->Location->Freeway Drive.

🔷 Simple Testing Server

A simple Node-based web-application with SQLite database is available for field-testing and performance analysis. If you're familiar with Node, you can have this server up-and-running in about one minute.


Copyright (c) 2017, Transistor Software (9224-2932 Quebec Inc)
All rights reserved.
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