The online world is buzzing about iOS 7TM, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, but most of the talk revolves around the new bells and whistles it brings but not about a potentially unexpected new feature turned on by default. AppleTM has reintroduced their location tracking, this time trying to mask it with features for users.
Hidden deep within the settings is a page called “Frequent Locations”. To get here you’ll need to load the Settings app, click on Privacy, tap on Location Services, scroll down to System Services, and at the bottom of this list is Frequent Locations. Within this page you will start off blank but notice that Frequent Locations is turned on by default. There is also another toggle to help Improve Maps. The real concern is after a few days use what you see below.
Once you use your phone for a few days it starts to recognize the most visited locations you have. It starts to keep a record of this location data including how often you visit, what day you visit, what time you visit, and a nice map to see exactly where it is and what address it is at.
If this sounds familiar, you may remember the trouble Apple got into for logging iOS location data to a hidden file in 2011. Back then Apple was logging all location data from your phone but wasn’t telling anyone what they were doing or allowing this to stop. With iOS 7 it looks like Apple has begun to learn from their mistakes by at least allowing this setting to be turned off and showing that they aren’t pushing this data to their servers unless you turn on the Improve Maps feature.
The negatives to this location tracking on by default are easy to understand. If somebody gets access to your phone, they can most likely infer where you live, work, and visit the most often. They can even tell what time you usually leave in the morning or what time you might pick the kids up from school. There are serious consequences to having this feature visible if your phone is accessed.
There are however benefits to this service. It can be closely compared to Google NowTM in that it tells me every morning approximately how long it will take to get to work with current conditions. It let’s me know the distance in both time and length between my appointments and seems to learn more about me to give me better results.
If this location tracking is worrisome to you and your family make sure to let them know and share this article. You can also get AVG PrivacyFixTM for your mobile device to help control your privacy settings on the go. If location tracking and privacy on your mobile device is a concern of yours please share why on our Facebook page.
By Calvin Pappas