Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 which fixes location data tracking

5 May 2011 by
You might have heard recently that Apple are storing location data in a hidden file on iPhones and iPads. These claims are only partly true but Apple has nevertheless released an OS update to delete the file in question

Apple iPhone iPad iOS 4.3.3 update

The Apple iOS is not the only operating system logging location data on the device without the user knowledge, but Apple is first in fixing the problem. Both Android and Windows Phone 7 OS does the same thing. A new version of iOS was release this week to deal with the tracking issue. Connect your Apple product to iTunes and download the 666 MB large file to update.

iPhone sometimes calculating the location of the devices by using the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots and cell tower locations. By knowing the approximately location of the phone, GPS lookup time could be reduced noticeable from several minutes to just a few seconds.

The time and location of the iPhone is stored in a file for quicker location lookup later. The problem was that this file was never deleted and location data was added even if Location Services was switched off on the phone. Users has reported up to a year's worth of location data on their iPhone. The OS update resolves this by

  • reduce the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone
  • ceases backing up the cache to iTunes
  • deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off

Notice that the location data from all iPhones are still being sent anounymous and encrypted form to Apple for the benefit of other iPhone users. But that is not the only reason why Apple want this crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data. Apple plans to build a crowd-sourced database for providing traffic service in the next couple of years. Apple also use this location data to serve iPhone users location targeted advertising via the iAds system.

Apple does not reveal if the location data is uploaded to Apple when the phone is connected via Wi-Fi or if this data could be transfered when connected via a network operator as well. Hopefully we are talking Wi-Fi only. We are sure no one are willing to pay for bandwith usage to their operator because Apple wants to server them better adds.

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titus112 years, 7 months ago
650mb just to fix something...
masseur12 years, 7 months ago
I'm not bothering with this upgrade as I'm not concerned about the privacy issues and don't want to lose my jailbreak for something this trivial
Indiandawg12 years, 7 months ago
Still waiting for iPad 2 jailbreak, forget the updates
masseur12 years, 7 months ago
Rumours are that RedSn0w RC15 is supposed to do that when it comes out. Also, Geohot is rumoured to be updating GreenPo1son to do it
Tsepz_GP12 years, 7 months ago
Goodness, +600mb just for a fix????
I realy dont see what the issue is with all this, Apple,and Google have been doing this for years and it hasn't affected anyone negatively, if anything its gone into improving the user experience in both OS, both are now the big guns in the Smartphone industry.

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