Suspicious partners rejoice! Apple iOS 7 creepily records users’ favourite places

The latest beta version of the upcoming new iOS operating system for the iPhone and iPad has a rather creepy feature hidden away in its settings.

If you have “Frequent locations” enabled, your iPhone will keep a record of the places that you frequent the most.

Ostensibly this is to “provide useful location-related information”, but it’s easy to imagine how gathering the data so openly will give some the privacy heebie-jeebies.

Hamburg tracking

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A user called “Ladino” – who appears to spend a lot of his time in the region of Hamburg, Germany – was the first to publicly comment on iOS 7 Beta 5’s new feature, finding controls for the new feature under Settings → Privacy → Location Services → System Services.

iOS 7 setting

What I am baffled by is just why would I want my iPhone to tell me what the places are that I most regularly visit?

Tracking I can imagine a suspicious boyfriend or wife might want to snoop on their partner’s favourite haunts and to double-check if they are really spending long evenings in the office or nipping around to their colleague’s house for a quick fumble.

And I can imagine how advertisers might want to learn who their most loyal customers are, based upon tracking their movements.

But how does this help me as an individual to have my favourite places tracked and percolated over by Apple’s servers?

After all, if these are my favourite, most frequented places, do I really need a smartphone to tell me that?

Wouldn’t I just know?

What a strange world we live in, where so many people willingly carry around a device all day long which tracks their movements and allows them to be recorded by faceless corporations (and potentially shared with law enforcement agencies).

But hey, you can play Angry Birds on it – so it’s worth it, right?

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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