Following the so-called big “EXPOSE” that Google is able to track your Android phone every time you use Google Maps, Apple has found itself in the same boat following a report on China’s state media that essentially accused Apple of tracking its iPhone users which it said is a problem from a national security point of view.
So once again, a storm in a tea cup as iPhone users are horrified by the news that Apple is tracking their iPhone, iPod and iPads.
So what is really going on ?
Just like Google’s ability to track your Android phone is a feature that is enabled, so too is this a feature that iPhone has enabled. The only difference between Android and iOS is that this feature is somewhat buried deeply inside iOS the settings.
The feature in question is called “Frequent Locations” which was part of the iOS 7 update and is now part of iOS8.
If this was Apple’s conspiracy to keep tabs on its users, then its a pretty bad one as this feature is listed in Apple’s online help where it clearly states that:
Frequent Locations: Your iPhone will keep track of places you have recently been, as well as how often and when you visited them, in order to learn places that are significant to you. This data is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.
Essentially the phone keeps track of itself and then displays info on the map based on your own history. When firing up the map, you will see this message:
Only if you tap on Allow will the data be shared with Apple.
How to stop Apple from tracking your iPhone ?
If this is making you uncomfortable, then disable this feature.
You do this by going to : Settings > Privacy > Location Services
Scrolling until you find System Services past all the apps you have given access to your locations. Whilst you are there, just check to see which apps need access to your location which is a more worrying list if you ask me.
At he bottom of that is Frequent Locations.
Now just set this to OFF.
Are you safe now ?
Of course not – there is no way to guarantee that your phone is not being tracked. The iPhone needs to connect to the cellular network. As soon as it does that it will log onto your nearest cell phone tower or towers so that you can make calls and use your data. As When it does this the phone leaves a footprint.
If you are that worried about being traced through the phone, then the only way to stop being traced is to stop using a mobile phone or use a “burner phone” which is a phone that you use on a pre-paid basis and then dispose of it.