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Apple Releases iOS 4.3.3 To Fix Location Tracking 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the where'd-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple has released a software update (iOS 4.3.3) to fix the much-talked-about iPhone Location Tracking bug. Apple faced a lot of criticism over the issue — iPhone and iPad secretly tracks users' locations and saves them in the device's cache as well as in a hidden file which is copied to the PC whenever the computer gets synced with device."
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Apple Releases iOS 4.3.3 To Fix Location Tracking

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  • bug? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Squeeonline (1323439) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:43PM (#36029212) Homepage
    I'm pretty sure it was a feature, not a bug.
    • Re:bug? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @04:57PM (#36029402)

      The data was held in a SQLLite database with a default size of 2MB. This obviously seemed like a small file but in reality it could hold a lot of data. So the file size has been reduced.

      So when are Google going to fix their OS and also stop sending data with a unique identifier back to HQ? yes, iOS seemed like it was tracking you, but the data in the database file on the device is a cache of location assistance data received.

      • Re:bug? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:33PM (#36029864)
        Apple says they read your location data.

        From the Apple FAQ http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/04/27location_qa.html [apple.com]:

        8. What other location data is Apple collecting from the iPhone besides crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data?

        Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.

        To produce a traffic database, the location of the phones must be read and transmitted to Apple. Claims that they only send location data and never pull it is clearly false. Of course, the database file on the phone was not the actual problem. It was sloppy to back it up, but it was more a tell tale sign Apples actual bad behavior. The bad behavior was in reading peoples location from their phone when they were told not to.

        Google has allowed you to actually turn off tracking by Google. It is part of the setup procedure in every Android phone. They don't even stop you from using location services if you tell them not to collection our location data. If someone shows that Google reading that data when they have been told not to, I will agree that they have behaved badly.

        At this point though Apple hasn't come out and said that they will stop secretly tracking iPhones. They have been specifically vauge about what they collect, but leave enough wiggle room so that they can claim they told you. As it stands, they claim that they are reading your location info. They worded it in a way that most people don't realize they are having their location info transmitted to Apple.

        That is sketchy at best. The big question is, are they still reading location data when location services are turned off, or are they just hiding the fact that they are tracking you? Based on what they have said, and just as importantly, what they have not said, it sounds like they are still secretly tracking users.

        • by webdog314 (960286)

          The location of the nearest wi-fi hotspot or cell tower *is not* "your location", nor is it "tracking" you. If you look at the actual data in the file, you will find all sorts of entries for places you have never been, or areas you have been to, but at a completely different time. I agree that it was sloppy of Apple to leave the backed up data sitting unencrypted, but it is absolutely different than accurate GPS coordinates of your movements.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Reread what I and APPLE wrote. They are creating a traffic database. This requires knowing where the phone is. You are focused on the file. The file isn't the problem. The file was just the evidence they left that got them caught in tracking users. The fact that you don't think they track your phone proves that they are intentionally being vaughe in their answers to try and trick people into thinking that they are not being tracked.

            Again. The traffic database that Apple says they are creating REQU
            • by webdog314 (960286)

              No, it requires knowing where a cell tower or wi-fi hotspot is generally. You're fixated on the "location", but it's NOT the location of the phone that's being recorded. Let me just say it again for you... It's NOT the location of the PHONE that is being recorded. Stop making assumptions about the data. I HAVE an iPhone. I have gone through the process and looked at the actual data recorded. It's NOT where I have been. At best, it's a general map of the cell towers in my area, and in certain instances, poin

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                A traffic database that says has locations you have never been near would be useless. Only a moron would try to use that kind of data for traffic related applications. That means that Apple is collecting data that is more accurate than what is stored on the phone, or Apple is run by morons. I suspect the former to be true. You seem to be under the impression that the data stored on your phone is the data that Apple is pulling from your phone. Based on the information stored there, and the fact that App
        • by TRRosen (720617)

          The bad behavior was in reading peoples location from their phone when they were told not to.

          To bad this never happened! Data was never transmitted.

          At this point though Apple hasn't come out and said that they will stop secretly tracking iPhones.

          Funny how something that's been public for years is somehow secret.

          The big question is, are they still reading location data when location services are turned off

          Once again they never were.

        • by TRRosen (720617)

          Google has allowed you to actually turn off tracking by Google. It is part of the setup procedure in every Android phone. They don't even stop you from using location services if you tell them not to collection our location data.

          I know Android users aren't that smart but really? Do you even understand the concept of location services? When you use location services your phone can only determine it's GPS coordinates. That in and of itself is pretty useless. So then the APP SENDS THAT DATA TO A SERVER SOMEWHERE where it is logged and the server checks its database to send back a location. The reality is unless you only use location services to display GPS coordinates on your screen. YOUR STILL BEING TRACKED!

      • Re:bug? (Score:5, Informative)

        by dudpixel (1429789) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @10:02PM (#36031572)

        what iOS does after this update is what Android has done all along.

        1. location updates only stored temporarily.
        2. location updates not stored at all when 'location services' disabled (MENU > Location and Security > Use Wireless Networks)

        The other difference is that Google has been upfront about what they do with location data. They said all along that they use this data and that it is anonymized.
        Apple seem to have come clean now so its all good.

        No reason to hate either side now...unless you want to hate both, because they're both much the same.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        what iOS does after this update is what Android has done all along.

        1. location updates only stored temporarily.
        2. location updates not stored at all when 'location services' disabled (MENU > Location and Security > Use Wireless Networks)

        Data sent to google is anonymized. I assume Apple does the same.

        Both of them collect the data to build a database of open wifi locations.

        No reason to hate either side now...unless you want to hate both, because they're both much the same.

  • Not very helpful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by warp_kez (711090)

    The update does not help if you are using an older unsupported iPhone or iPod.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      My understanding was that this was a new "bug"/"feature". That would mean that any phone capable of having it implemented would also take the fix to remove it. Of course the file wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that Apple was instructing your phone to secretly transmit your location data to Apple even when location services was off. We don't know how long that has been going on, and can assume that the actual problem has only been hidden better based on Apples FAQ http://www.apple.com/pr/l [apple.com]
      • by TRRosen (720617)

        Once again STOP MAKING SHIT UP!!! The phone did not transmit this data and does not and never has transmitted location data with location services off. There has never been any secret transmission of data! Everything sent to Apple has been known from day 1.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Obviously not, given how many people right hear on Slashdot claim that no data was ever sent. Where does Apple outright say that they don't collect data when the services are off? They very clearly avoid answering that.
          • by TRRosen (720617)

            Steve has never outright said he's not an Alien from the planet Kanzis. Therefore he must be hiding that fact right. Yes lets ignore the fact that bunches of researchers inspecting every packet transmitted from the phone have not found any data being transmitted. Steve must be using some of his Alien technology to transmit it via subspace. Put your tinfoil hat back on and go back to watching Fox News.

        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          sure, location based services somehow enables apple to GUESS your location without your phone telling them anything?!

          The phone most definitely transmits your location to Apple, otherwise how would location based services even work? In order for apple to provide ads targetted to your location, they need to know where you are. There are more uses for location services too, all of them requiring the server to know your location.

          I have no problem with this - the data is anonymized and I've yet to hear of even

    • by TRRosen (720617)

      Older phones used a different file that can not be accessed directly in any way. Not that this one could be without jail-breaking or the users authorization.

  • FIX (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    FIX or hide somewhere else?

  • I must be the only person who thought that feature was nice. Given that it's not shared with anybody, it is nothing but useful for me.

    When I go on vacation or someplace interesting, I drag along a GPS logger so I know where I've been, and I can geolocate my pictures. I have to take another device in my backpack and keep it charged etc. If my phone did that, I'd be happy as hell. There are apps for that, but they suck serious battery. This low resolution database would be a nice compliment to to the GPS

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cobrausn (1915176)
      Right, its a useful 'feature' if they tell you about it and let you turn it off. Otherwise it is covert tracking, even if by accident.
      • You can't do something "covertly" "by accident", because covert implies it was done on purpose.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:29PM (#36029806)

      Since it didn't actually track your location, only present a database of known network points around you, you actually couldn't use it to track anything. I had a look at my own data and you couldn't tell where I lived or worked from it, and those are places I go every day.

    • by syousef (465911)

      I must be the only person who thought that feature was nice. Given that it's not shared with anybody, it is nothing but useful for me.

      When I go on vacation or someplace interesting, I drag along a GPS logger so I know where I've been, and I can geolocate my pictures. I have to take another device in my backpack and keep it charged etc. If my phone did that, I'd be happy as hell. There are apps for that, but they suck serious battery. This low resolution database would be a nice compliment to to the GPS logger.

      Sheldon

      First of all most of the juice an app draws in that situation will be drawn running the GPS on the phone. It shouldn't make a difference which app does that. The only way it could is if some apps turned off the GPS, logged then turned it back off vs always on. An app could be written for that too.

      Secondly a tracklog that's only accurate to within a kilometer or two is next to useless for geolocating pictures. If you've ever went geocaching you'd realise that relocating something with 30m accuracy can get fr

  • iPhone 3G? SOL (Score:2, Informative)

    by ral (93840)
    If you bought your iPhone between Jul 11, 2008 and Jun 7, 2009 (and perhaps after that date) you have an iPhone 3G and you're going to have this bug as long you own the phone. As of March 11, 2011, Apple stopped updating the iPhone 3G.

    It look like after 2 years, you're no longer an Apple customer. You're a former customer until you prove otherwise with your wallet.

    Disclaimer: I can't find any official statement from Apple about their current 3G support policy. But they did exclude th 3G from t
    • Re:iPhone 3G? SOL (Score:4, Informative)

      by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:01PM (#36029462)

      Two years is double or four times as long as other phone providers.

      A Sony Ericsson phone is effectively abandonware as soon as you buy one. A HTC phone is released every 6-12 months and with such a large number of phones to support you won't see many or any updates after 12 months.

      Apple's support for the iPhone is pretty exception in the mobile phone market. So unless you can provide an example of a mobile operator who provided support after two years I think you need to stop whining.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Haedrian (1676506)

        Given how limited the phone choice is, and how 'special' iPhone users are, and the premium they pay, and the fact that this 'bug' got (or will get) apple into trouble...

        You can hardly compare can you?

    • And? I am neither a fan nor customer of apple, but I would say that if you last purchased something 2+ years ago... you're *not* a customer. You're a former customer.
      • regardless, this demonstrates the benefits of free software. A similar phone loaded with aosp would have lifetime updates thanks to cyanogenmod.

        • by arikol (728226)

          sorry to burst your bubble (well, actually, not really) but is that what you have seen for Android phones? You know, the ones that can't upgrade from 1.6 to 2..

      • by pz (113803)

        Depends on the warranty, no?

        Automobile emission control systems (and, broadly interpreted, that includes the drivetrain) have an EPA-mandated 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty in the USA. That would mean the car you bought 9 years 11 months and 30 days ago still makes you a current customer.

        Owning something that will be supported or last for only 2 years? I try to avoid that if possible.

        • My car is going on 6 years old. The rOads i drive it on are atill the same. So yeah, im happy to keep it. The roads My iphOne drives on will likely be obsoleted in 2.
    • First, it's 2011. Most OEM's support android phones for months, not years. Second, people like you are looking for something to qq about. you would complain if your water was wet. Shut up.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by syousef (465911)

        First, it's 2011. Most OEM's support android phones for months, not years.

        Second, people like you are looking for something to qq about. you would complain if your water was wet.

        Shut up.

        I see so you arguments are:
        1) Other manufacturers can be bad, so Apple should be too
        2) People should never complain
        3) You like to abuse and bully people

        I bet you'd defend Apple if they went around with squads killing people and committing atrocities. Brand loyalty is for suckers.

        • 1) Other manufacturers can be bad, so Apple should be too

          No but ragging on the one which actually comes out ahead of most, if not all, manufacturers in terms of official support is disingenuous. iPhone 3G was supported from july 2008 to march 2011, that's nearly 3 years worth of OS updates for that model of phone. Its successor, the iPhone 3GS, was released june 2009 at which time the writing was on the wall for the older hardware but it was supported well after that.

          • by syousef (465911)

            1) Other manufacturers can be bad, so Apple should be too

            No but ragging on the one which actually comes out ahead of most, if not all, manufacturers in terms of official support is disingenuous.

            You're kidding me, right? This is the same manufacturer that's famous for selling a phone that drops out if you hold it wrong, and screens that scratch if you look at them harshly.

            I've had few things from Apple and their support is my #2 reason for disliking them. My #1 reason is lockdown and crippling in order to sell the next model. #3 is their draconian control of the sales channels.

            Every product I've owned or used at work from Apple has given me nothing but trouble. Just junk, and their customer service

            • by jo_ham (604554)

              From your posts in this thread, your clear grinding axe and your belligerent "Apple can do no right" dogma, I suspect that the reason "every Apple product" gives you trouble is down to the common factor in all of those interactions: you.

              Given today's flurry of posts in this thread your neckbeard must be seriously chafed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dnahelicase (1594971)
      From my experience, the 3G barely ran iOS 4. I don't blame them for stopping support of it or the "classic". Those users should stay on 3.2.2 and jailbreak it.
    • by Americano (920576)

      If you live in the states and bought a phone 2+ years ago, you are probably eligible for a very cheap upgrade from your carrier, provided you're willing to re-up your contract.

      Given the high-profile nature of this, even if you're not due for a re-up because you bought a refurb 3G 6 months ago, I'd suggest picking up your phone and calling customer service for your cell provider, and asking them what they can do to help you out. If you're willing to renew your contract, I'd bet they'd be willing to cut you

    • Re:iPhone 3G? SOL (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ral (93840) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @05:59PM (#36030114)
      OK, so Apple's warranty is for only one year. As far as I know, they haven't violated any of the terms of their 25 page contract I never read. As far as I can tell, their support is as good as any cell phone company. (Not a high bar to get over.) So you're justified in calling me a whiner.

      Still, after paying more for that phone than I've paid for some computers, I'm pretty unhappy with Apple. I've been using Apple computers continuously (but not exclusively) since 1985. I guess I'm pining for the days when a computer was still pretty useful and still getting updates 5 years after you bought it.

      I really don't want to start another 2 year commitment on a smartphone. And the iPad I'm considering looks like less of a bargain if it is going to be made intentionally obsolete in 2 years.
      • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

        >I guess I'm pining for the days when a computer was still
        >pretty useful and still getting updates 5 years after you
        >bought it.

        My iPhone 3G was rather creaky with iOS 4. But my 2007 iMac is still my primary computer, still useful, and still getting updates. And based on the developer previews, I do expect it to run Lion fairly well. The only reason I can think of that won't "last" five years is if I switch to a MacBook Pro. And even then, I'd pass it along to a friend who could get some use out of

    • If you bought your iPhone between Jul 11, 2008 and Jun 7, 2009 (and perhaps after that date) you have an iPhone 3G and you're going to have this bug as long you own the phone.

      "'untrackerd' [modmyi.com] Cydia Tweak stops iOS Location Data Storing."

      • by ral (93840)
        That's sweet - thanks. And since Apple is ignoring the 3G, the risk of jailbreaking it is much lower. Apple's not going to patch the 3G flaws that allow jailbreaking.
  • Give me a break (Score:5, Informative)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:15PM (#36030202)

    And People still can't stop making shit up! There is one file. (the Cache) its not hidden. It contains locations of cell towers and wi-fi APs. It does not contain the users location. The data for each tower was over written and only logged when towers came into range. As such the data never could be used to "trace some ones every move". The data would only show the general location of the user (being somewhere near a tower). The app that showed the locations sensationalized the whole thing by showing a week or mores worth of data by default putting in many more data points. Many days would actually contain few or no data points at all. And no one has shown this data being sent to Apple.

    • Re:Give me a break (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday May 04, 2011 @06:54PM (#36030548)

      Whenever they're reporting on Apple related news Slashdot turns into a sort of techie version of Fox News, ignoring basic established facts in favor of their own predetermined truth. It's mind boggling really. You don't have to like Apple but ignoring the facts is no way for a geek to behave.

    • WiFi APs are good enough to map your location on a map on wifi only iPads (labeled "current location"). Their range is very limited, so coming into contact with one is the same as knowing location -- especially when combined with what other APs are visible to you at the same time -- which is why Apple has always referred to this as a "location" finding technique.

      • by fredmosby (545378)
        The file stores all the known access points within miles of the phone's location. It doesn't indicate which points the phone actually detected. Looking at the data for my phone I couldn't even see the specific cities I'd been to. It showed the state or county at best.
    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      Apple are using this data to create a database of open wifi towers. How can they do this unless they have the collected data sent to them.

      I believe the data is anonymized and more than likely quite safe.

      However, to claim it isn't being sent at all is naive. It may well not have been sent if the user had location based services turned off, however.

      • by TRRosen (720617)

        Cell towers transmit there location to the phone and the wifi locations are looked up and sent from skyhook. None of this is useful information for Apple they already have access to all that info. This data is not transmitted. When you use location services to find your location it looks at this file and the towers and wifi signals to get a head start for the GPS system if once your location is found there are new wifi signals in the area these are sent anonymously. This file is never sent. only new APs dis

  • wasnt there an apple spokesman saying that apple NEEDED to know locations of its customers to provide them 'better service' ? just 1-2 days ago in a story we read here ?
    • by dwightk (415372)

      that was a quote from 6 months ago, repackaged to look like it was said in response to the latest location conspiracy.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        it doesnt matter whether it was from 6 months ago. it says that they were going after locations of people. and it wasnt 'repackaged'. it was in the news just a few days before the flop.
        • No, it was in the news in July, and then somebody took it and made it look like it had anything to do with this issue. It doesn't.

          The information was talking about using people's locations to provide services. Kind of important when you expect your Cheap Gas Finder app to show you prices that are nearby, and such things.

    • by dudpixel (1429789)

      that was possibly google's andy rubin saying the data was 'very important' to them? And the data being referred to was the locations of wifi towers, NOT the locations of their customers.

      In fact, anyone who uses a cell phone, and in particular if they have location based services turned on, are already sending their location to any number of places.

      Its also anonymized. People talk about situations where you may still be able to be identified, but the chances are so remote that there are much bigger things

  • 2nd Generation iPod Touches stopped getting iOS updates when they were 1.2 years old. iPod Touch 3rd Generation was released 9/9/09, and iOS 4.2.1 (the last one for iPod Touch 2nd Generation) was released November 22, 2010.

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