Apple has today officially responded to growing concern over the subject of location collection on the iPhone in iOS 4.0 and on the iPad 3G. Since iOS 4.0 data is recorded into a database of nearby Wi-Fi and cellular access points used to provide quick location fixes when needed.
Apple has released a Q&A on its website explaining the issue, highlighting that Apple is not tracking the location of iPhones and iPads, and never intends to do so.
The data recorded is sent to Apple in an anonymous and encrypted fashion and it is not possible for the data to be tied to any user but is helpful in gaining a location when requested where GPS signal is hard to obtain.
Apple also said that a number of bugs are at play in the current version of iOS, when location services are turned off it has been discovered that the database continues to grow and this will be addressed. Apple also intends to release a software update that will cease backing up of the database, reduce the size of the database of WiFi and cell towers cached on the phone and delete the cache when location services are turned off.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has also given a telephone interview to All Things Digital, adding some colour to the issue:
Jobs said that the tech industry hasn’t done a good job of educating users on what has been a fairly complicated issue.
“As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education,” Jobs said. “We haven’t as an industry done a very good job educating people I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week.”
Jobs also revealed that Apple has been asked to testify by US authorities and will do so but questions whether other phone manufacturers will come under the same scrutiny by the press.