My iPhone seems to be traveling more than me

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Apple, apps, computers, hardware, iPad, iphone, software, technology
Tags: , , , , , , ,

All the hype this past week about the supposed tracking of your whereabouts by a “hidden file” on your iPhone, made me need to rant a little, so bear with me this should be a short ride.
Firstly, the file in question tracks all the cellphone towers that you have been near using them to triangulate your location, or at least try to.  More on that later.

Secondly, the file is not shared with Apple, it is compiled on your iPhone and copied to the computer you sync your iPhone with. All those little apps that are location aware and you have allowed them to collect data are going into this file.  That’s as far as it travels. Strangely though, it seems my iPhone travels more than me.
I drive to sites as part of my job, some weeks nearly everyday i’m out somewhere, be it around town, or a half day away. Some weeks i’m in the office designing most of the time, it’s like a handful of bits and bites, you never know what you are gonna get each week.

Anyway,… So, I grabbed the iPhoneTracker App and ran it to see what all the hype is about and low and behold it seems my iPhone is going places i’ve never been.  I’ve got a good memory of where i’ve driven to, and I know i’ve been to many places in ontario but haven’t so far been in the middle of Lake Erie for instance.

I didn't go to Awenda Provincial Park

Didn't go to Killbear Park either

If you want to see where your iPhone has traveled (with or without you) check out Pete Warden’s iPhoneTracker app (here).

The big concern seems to be that people could hack your computer and get the file, or if you were involved in nefarious activities the police could subpoena that file or retrieve it from your iPhone/iPad.  Yes, that is true, they could.  They could also contact your cellphone provider and get the same kind of info, and it would be more accurate.

What is important to remember is this file is a list of assumed locations derived by triangulating your location, which is evident by the maps i’ve posted above.  A few of the locations show me in the middle of water and being as I have not been on a boat anywhere near those locations it is not possible.  Also, many of the locations shown are in areas I have never been anywhere near.  Especially when you get into areas that have limited cell-tower coverage, such as the northern parts of Ontario.

Basically none of this info is precise enough to be used to prove anything in a court of law, you are more likely to be tracked correctly by your tweets and Foursquare check-ins than this file and yet people willingly give out that info all the time.  In my opinion it is a lot of hype and misinformation being sensationalized by the media, and people should put away their tinfoil hats.


  1. Derek Silva says:

    Wow, it’s so inaccurate you’d think the NSA wrote the code. 😉


  2. […] The release of iOS 4.3.3 was mainly dealing with the way certain information was being stored on your iPhone and transferred to your computer when syncing.  Many people got quite upset about it, and the uproar was wildly publicized – rightly or wrongly, it got a lot of attention (even a little by me in this previous blog entry). […]


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