Thursday, 08 August 2013 16:51

iOS 7 to Actively Track Users with new "Feature"

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In the current climate with accusations flying back and forth about user data collection you would think that telling people they are actively being tracked and monitored by a device you are selling is a bad idea. However, this is what Apple is doing with a new “feature” in iOS 7 and they seem to think that it is something people will be interested in. The new feature is innocuously called Improve Map, but what it does is something that we are not sure people will want to leave turned on.


Apple describes Improve Map as an extension to the frequent locations feature (something already disturbing) and says this about it in their documentation: “If you choose to enable Improve Maps, Apple will collect the GPS coordinates obtained through the Frequent Locations feature on your device and correlate them with the street address associated with your Apple ID. This will enable Apple to better approximate the geographic location of that and other addresses.”

 Apple does go on to say that you can turn off Improve Maps or Frequent Locations by going to Location Services -> System Services -> Frequent Locations under the settings menu. This is a nice thing to note and we are fairly sure than many iOS users will be heading there right after upgrading their phones (when iOS 7 is released). Apple also makes the further claim that they will only retain the resulting coordinates in an anonymous form to improve Maps and other Apple location-based products and services. Anyone want to bet that is not entirely true? Considering they are using your AppleID and the street address associated with it this sounds more like a method to build a movement pattern than anything that will help Apple improve coverage. Considering that this is the job of the carriers and not Apple we have to wonder why it is part of the phone in the first place, unless they wanted to hide something in plain sight and try to turn it into a “feature” to keep people from complaining.

We already know that Cell providers can track you by your IEMI number as it moves through different cell towers. This really sounds more like an extension of this to track movement patterns and could be grossly abused like so many other “features” designed to track user habits. Anyone want to bet that this can be turned on remotely or if it can’t be done now it will be added in at some point? There is no real reason to have this level of tracking on a person communication device that we can think of and Apple’s assurances that this information will only be kept in anonymous form is not going to fly with everyone.

It is worth mentioning that Google does something similar although not nearly as intrusive or blatant.

Do you think this new feature will hurt Apple? Let us know in our Forum


Read 2329 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 August 2013 16:54

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