“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Users are Confused.”

This headline is two quotes from the Apple’s response to the allegations that they are tracking people’s location. They go on to say, “Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” Simply put, they state, “Users are confused.”

You can find their full comments in their response titled Apple Q&A on Location Data.”

This release of information struck me as a bit silly. My summary of Apple’s comments are that they are not tracking you or your phone. No, they aren’t. Rather, they are tracking the ground you are standing on when you are holding your phone. See, that makes it okay because it isn’t exactly you. Okay, it isn’t exactly the ground you where you are standing, but close enough!

This reminds me of Google’s comment “do no evil.” Every time I hear that, my thoughts are, “Because we say we don’t do evil, it must be true.”

How naïve to think that by saying something people will believe it.

Apple goes on to identify many of the location tracking items as bugs. The tracking of a years’ data is a bug. The continued tracking even when location based services are turned off is also a bug. As a developer, we called ‘bugs’ features to discount them. It seems that when people don’t like a feature, we now get to call them a bug rather than a design error — or an “oopsie!”

The other tidbit I liked in the release from Apple was the statement I mentioned before. They stated:

“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

If you then read the answer to another question later in the Q&A, they state:

“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.”

They are not tracking your cell phone, but they are tracking traffic data from you. They don’t plan to use the data they are not collecting, but they are collecting it to build a traffic service based on the data.

It seems to me that Apple needs to write a Q&A on their Q&A.

The reality is that today’s mobile devices have GPS features built into them. As users, most of us like to use these futures to find directions for navigating and more. I’ve used my phone to help me get to locations and I appreciated the functionality. The fact that such devices are tracking information should not be a surprise. In my opinion, the biggest issue with the Apple situation is that there was an unencrypted file containing the location data. That seems like an obvious bug to me. The second issue is the reports that locations are still tracked if location based services are turned off. That does seem like a critical issue, especially when Apple states they are tracking the anonymous data to use for their gain — for a future service.

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