iOS 4.3.3 removes backup of location data on iPhones and iPads
Apple iOS 4.3.3 update (left)
Apple’s embarrassment and potential legal problems over the hidden location data base in each iPhone and iPad came to an end overnight with the 4.3.3 update to the mobile operating system.
It was revealed only 15 days ago on April 20th, 2011 that every iPhone and iPad was not only tracking your physical location but storing the data for retrieval.
Earlier in April 6th, the NY Times reported the US Department of Justice was investigating Google for the privacy violations with its location tracking software in Android phones.
Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden startled everyone when they reported that each and every Apple iPhone and iPad was tracking, recording and backing up our moves.
Big Brother was watching. Critics said that location tracking is not harmless.
Privacy in the mobile age is always in danger as people share more and more of their personal information on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
The thought that Apple’s iPhone was recording everywhere we go did not sit well with regulators and elected officials.
The US and Korea were the first off the mark to begin investigations, with a US Federal Grand Jury struck to see if there were grounds to investigate Apple.
The UK Information Commissioner followed with an investigation.
At first Apple tried to stonewall and claimed the location database was benign and not shared with anyone.
Threats of class action lawsuits, Congressional investigations and the mounting publicity got Apple’s development team working overtime to release an update last night that removes some of the location tracking features.
According to Apple, the changes reduce the crowd sourcing cache size, remove the backup to iTunes where it may be accessed by third parties, and deletes the location “cache entirely if Location Services is turned off.”
The crowd sourcing feature is not eliminated but the fix is a compromise that will probably satisfy most critics.
The update installs effortlessly in a few minutes. We tested it on an iPad and iPhone 2 with smooth results. We measure that by ability of the devices to function normally after the update, which they do.
This is one area where Apple shines: they don’t generally release untested code into the wild. Customer satisfaction with Apple is well earned as they seem to recover quickly from mistakes and gaffes. Perhaps they learned from the famous iPhone 2 antenna-gate.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network