Your iOS device has been tracking every move you make


Alright, perhaps the above image is a bit much. After all, it's not as if Steve Jobs himself has been tracking you. Rather, it turns out that your GPS-equipped iPhone or iPad has been logging your location to an unencrypted file on the device. 

The device does not collect data all the time; your location is only saved when you use a location-based service such as FourSquare. Those of you who do not use those services may think you are safe, but you should remember that things like "nearby" searches also count as location services and are logged. For example, because I have location tracking enabled for Google searches on my smartphone (so that I can find nearby restaurants), every single time I search for anything my location is logged. 

What's even more disturbing is that information in this file does not stay only on your device. It is also copied to your computer whenever you sync with iTunes. So, anyone with access to your computer or phone could look at a log of where you have been. 

Okay, so Apple is tracking your location, and saving it to a file on your phone and computer. What does this mean? In reality, not much. Many users already choose to share their location through apps and other services, and even those who don't may not care. However, there will still be some people who take issue with this logging, especially because the logs are unencrypted.

This begs the question of why Apple is doing this. I don't think they would risk angering people for no reason, so I assume they use this information for something. For now, we can only speculate and consider turning off location services on our iOS devices.

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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6 thoughts on “Your iOS device has been tracking every move you make

  • What’s the big deal? Privacy is way overrated. And privacy advocates are just trying to puff themselves up as important. Who is so important that their every action must be secret? What do they really have to hide? I think criminals show less concern over privacy than some privacy advocates who don’t want people to know where they get their groceries. I see this as more of a good thing. If something happens to you, you’re more easily found.

    And Apple has already said is is for ads.

  • Damian,

    The point here is choice and full disclosure! Tracking YOUR every move may not mean anything to you…that’s fine. But who are you, or apple, to decide that for me? Let alone to do it, as I said, without my full understanding and approval! It’s one thing for example, to go to the airport with the foreknowledge that you are going to be photographed (essentially naked) or be physically “manipulated” (pat down). It would be quit another thing to find out that you had been, without your approval or consent, photographed naked…let alone some random stranger walking up to you and physically patting you down with the same lack of approval or consent. The fact that you may see no difference here would be…alarming, but that is your choice. Let other people have their choice. I don’t think that it is too much to ask to simply provide the rundown on what they are doing, and what is being done, with the information. Preferably, let me know what your doing with the info first, then I can make an informed decision about whether or not I want to participate. What’s the big deal with that?

  • They are doing it to gather market research. Knowing the demographic of who owns the phone plus where they spend their days is a powerful tool for later product enhancement and business development.

  • My theory was that they could use it to see where people had the best/worst phone reception or dropped calls, but your theory unfortunately sounds more likely.

    The interesting thing, though, from what I understand, is that there’s no evidence yet that this data is actually being uploaded to Apple. Maybe I’m wrong on that point, but if I’m not it makes the tracking of the data even more curious. Maybe it’s in anticipation of some future Apple app or service?

  • Android does the same thing, and some guy on xda-developers released an app that lets you view the cached data. It’s interesting, but not especially surprising, that my phone knows where it is.

    After all, if it didn’t know where it was, GPS and LBS would be pretty pointless.

  • I disagree that “privacy is overrated”.

    Those fighting underground against oppressive regimes (such as China) might tend to agree with me.

    Not to mention that, here in the US, there are already documented cases of stalkers using that information for terrible, terrible reasons- such as Andre Leteve, who used it to locate and murder his wife.

    You may not feel, good sir, that privacy is important, but there are a great many people who would disagree with you.


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