• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 21, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    I’ll be watching you…

    Ciara O'Brien

    In case you missed it, the iPhone (and iPad) apparently tracks its location and saves it to the phone, complete with handy little time stamps. So everywhere you go, it takes a record of it. A stalker’s dream, wouldn’t you say?

    I don’t think anyone is too surprised that they can be tracked by a phone that contains location services. And if you have anything like Find My iPhone on your handset, you can pinpoint your phone’s location in real time.

    But it’s the level of data retention that has raised some eyebrows, plus the danger posed by potential access to the file. And even if you switch off your location services, the phone will still keep track of you, because it uses data triangulated from mobile towers rather than the built-in GPS.

    Apparently no other smartphone keeps the same creepy log of all your movements, so congratulations, Apple, you’ve scored another first. Though I doubt it’s one that will be making it into STeve’s next keynote, somehow.

    If you’re interested to find out just what’s stored on your iPhone, have a look at the application here.

    UPDATE: Android tracks location too, but in a slightly different way. As someone who has set up several Android phones, I’ve seen that check box. However, the important difference to me is that the Apple warning about this is in the EULA agreement – and how many people bother to read that, despite knowing we should?

    It’s not stopped me from using my iPhone, however. And I doubt very many others will be ditching the phones either.

    • David says:

      All you did was link to an app on the iPhone, and try to make negative press for Apple, the morning after they posted INSANELY LARGE earnings for Q2 of 2011.
      You probably tried shorting Apple stock, and lost your retirement, huh? Go long, and gain it back. Maybe buy an iPad 2 while you’re at it.

    • In response to your comment David:

      1. The link is not just an app, it also explains exactly what the researchers found. Which was a file logging locations, along with timestamps. This was only introduced recently, which begs the question: why? Also, a quick edit to point out that it’s not actually an app for the iPhone, it runs on your PC or Mac to see what info is stored there that has come from your iPhone.

      2. Apple’s results are not in dispute.

      3. I’m ignoring your accusation of me trying to “make” negative press for them.

      4. Shorting Apple stock: are you kidding? I wouldn’t touch the stock market with a barge pole. As for losing my retirement, I have a pension, but I’m a long way off claiming it. So no.

      5. As for buying an iPad 2, I’m not really sure what your point was there. I don’t need to buy one, I already have one. Along with an iPhone and a MacBook, and several other Apple products.

    • Zootopian says:

      David’s comment is without doubt one of the most impressive examples of “fan boyism” that pervades so many users of Apple products (and other gadgets, to be fair). I shop at Tesco – it doesn’t mean I feel compelled to go online and berate any report that may paint them in a less than glowing manner.

      Talk about shooting the messenger…

    • Chris Carpenter says:

      Anybody who knows me, will concur that I am huge Apple fan. These recent findings are interesting. It’s always been my experience with Apple, 15 years and counting, that they do most things for a reason. As far as I am aware, the file the iPhone generates doesn’t get sent anywhere. It probably helps them build a better product the next time around though their own testing. This could be a case of a piece of code that was never meant to go GM.

      As for privacy, well for one it’s on your computer, along with your private financial records, the Justin Bieber collection of images and other content you might have. Second of all, the EULA you agree to when an iPhone is used clearly states that this data is being collected.

      I don’t think this is bad press for Apple, just another take on Apple, handsets and technology in general. Google aren’t much better with ads in your Gmail should you use it.

      As for my location on the iPhone, I had a go with the app, fascinating stuff. The accuracy of the data, hmm darts and a map board spring to mind. Either that or I go to some field in Mullingar an awful lot.

    • Dan says:

      Its a mistake according to John Grubber. Apparently somebody messed up some code and forgot to get it to delete itself…

    • Ah, David. Come, come. You wouldn’t, perchance, be an Apple Jobs-worth, would you? You’d need the patience of Jobs to read comments like that.

    • Dave McG says:

      Patience of Steve “How else do i reference that ‘Please Leave Us Alone’ e-mail?” Jobs?

      Turns out that ‘holding your iPhone the wrong way & dropping calls’ was probably in everyone’s best interests for privacy- who knew?

      Lots of conflicting reports about what/ why iPhones track locations-
      Code that wasn’t deleted, maketing information collected for location-based advertising, information on location of nearby transmitter towers to improve network efficiency, etc…
      Whatever the reason, Apple has a patent for it: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53886728
      So, they have a purpose for it- and, whatever that purpose, there wil be a market for it- i just won’t be buying it-

      (I’m A Dave, not THE David from Comment 1)