iOS location tracking file likely a bug, Apple could address issue with next udpateA file that stores a detailed history of the approximate location an iPhone or 3G-equipped iPad has been is a result of a bug in the iOS operating system, and could be addressed by Apple in the next iOS update, according to a new report.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball commented on the controversial location tracking log Thursday. Though he cautioned that he doesn't have a "definitive answer" as to why Apple is storing users' location data in a database file, he has been told it is in fact an error.
"My little-birdie-informed understanding is that consolidated.db acts as a cache for location data, and that historical data should be getting culled but isn't, either due to a bug or, more likely, an oversight," Gruber wrote.
"I.e. someone wrote the code to cache location data but never wrote code to cull non-recent entries from the cache, so that a database that's meant to serve as a cache of your recent location data is instead a persistent log of your location history. I'd wager this gets fixed in the next iOS update."
Though the tracking file has existed since iOS 4 was released last year, and was even recognized before, the information gained traction on Wednesday when a pair of security researchers detailed the issue. They found that the iPhone and 3G-capable iPad are "regularly recording the position" of the devices and saving them in a hidden file.
The data in the consolidated.db file is backed up and restored through iTunes, and can even be transferred to a new device when syncing. Though the information is not shared with Apple or anyone else, the researchers view the file as a potential security threat, as anyone with access to the file could know where a person has traveled since owning an iOS 4-powered device.
Because data collection started with the release of iOS 4 last June, the file can be a comprehensive collection of locations with tens of thousands of data points stored. The location is believed to be determined through cell-tower triangulation, which is less accurate than GPS.
The researchers, Peter Warden and Alasdair Allan, have provided a free tool to the public that allows users to look at their own stored location data. Users are also advised to encrypt their iOS backups through iTunes to maximize security.
On Topic: iPhone
- New 'iPhone 6s' leak shows parts such as unified flex cables, camera and home button rings
- Surging iPhone, plummeting feature phone sales push Apple past Microsoft in mobile market
- Yahoo expected to launch messaging app at New York City press event
- T-Mobile adds Apple Music to list of streaming services for cap-free Music Freedom
- UK banks HSBC, First Direct go live with promised Apple Pay support