Apple Admits to iPhone Location Tracking, Will Fix

Posted on December 5, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, iOS, Mobile with 11 Comments

Apple’s latest iPhones, the iPhone 11 line, include a lot of new technology. And the company is now under a bit of criticism because of one of those new technologies that are available on the newest iPhones.

Security researcher Brian Kerbs reported on Wednesday that iPhone 11 appeared to be tracking a user’s location, even when the location tracking setting is disabled on their phone.

Apple declined to comment about the matter at first, making the situation a bit suspicious. But as it turns out, there isn’t a lot to worry about if you are an iPhone 11 user.

Apple has now provided clarification to TechCrunch, stating that the company needs to track the device’s location in order to disable the new ultra-wideband technology in certain regions to abide by certain international regulations.

The new iPhone 11, as you may remember, comes with a new U1 chip that uses ultra-wideband technology for spatial awareness. For now, the feature allows the new iPhones to simply point their devices at other phones with the same chip for easier AirDrop sharing. But in the longer run, Apple’s U1 chip is meant to be at the heart of its new item tracker, which is yet to be launched.

And to follow the international regulations, the iPhone 11 tracks location data to turn off the ultra-wideband technology where it isn’t legally allowed to run.

“Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations. iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations,” Apple said in a statement.

The company confirmed that it is not collecting user location data and that all of the location data stays entirely on the device, which was also confirmed independently by a security researcher.

Apple says the company will offer a new toggle to let users turn off this “feature”, but it’s pretty weird to see the company not offering an option for this from the beginning. After all, Apple does make a big fuss about privacy on the iPhone.

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