The facts: Some "researchers" found a file on some iPhones. They guessed--incorrectly--that the file indicated that Apple was tracking the iPhone's location. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that they were wrong, as the file's location data and the iPhone's recent locations don't match. They took this to the media. The media had a field day. Apple bashing is like writing about men biting dogs.
Apple's response: As anyone following the iPhone knows, it can calculate its location--only when the user asks it to--more quickly because it detects the nearest cell towers and wifi hotspots. It doesn't just rely on GPS. (Note that all cell phones must have GPS for 911 services.) That quicker method of location calculation has been talked about publicly for years.
That's it. iPhone detects nearby cell towers and wifi hotspots (nearby in this case means up to 100 miles away) and sends the data anonymously to Apple servers. The file the "researchers" found on iPhones consists of a localized subset of such data downloaded from this database to help the iPhone find out where it is when the user asks it to.
Apple says it'll make an iOS update to:
•reduce the amount of such data saved on the iPhone
•encrypt the downloaded file on the iPhone
•delete the file if the user turns off location services
•stop backing up the downloaded file to the user's Mac.
Apple also slyly revealed that it has a crowd-sourced traffic information service in the works. It's not clear how that might work.
http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/04 ... on_qa.html
That's all good. But it is not an admission that Apple was tracking anyone. The press would like you think otherwise.
And then there's this:
andGoogle acknowledged last week that it, too, collected data about the location of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers from its users.
Two sentences hidden at the bottom of an article about Apple's evil ways.Google already uses Android phones to collect real-time traffic information.
Oh, and by the way, there's not been any mention of cell phone companies keeping track of where calls are initiated from.
Now if this all had been true, it would validate a hundred movies where the evil forces tracking our hero are homing in on his cell phone. Then he pulls into a truck stop and tosses the cell phone onto the top of a semi's trailer. Problem solved.
Or alternatively, the evildoer merely leaves his own cell phone at home, buys a pay-as-you-go at Safeway, commits the crime, tosses the pay-as-you-go, then goes home and finishes watching the crime movie.