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05 May 2011, 11:02

Apple releases iOS updates to address location tracking concerns

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iPhone Location Tracking Apple has released versions 4.3.3 and 4.2.8 of its iOS mobile operating system; the updates address the previously reported concerns about a database on the company's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices that was apparently tracking the location of the device. The updates come less than two weeks after researchers reported that the devices held this information and published a tool to visualise the stored data on a map.

According to Apple, the software updates contain changes to the crowd-sourced iOS location database cache that reduce the size of the cache to hold only a week's worth of information and completely deleting the cache when Location Services is turned off.

The researchers' visualisation tool made use of the fact that the iTunes desktop application backed up the location cache database and, unless the backup was encrypted, it was readable. To prevent this, the update ensures that the cache is no longer backed up by iTunes.

Apple previously said that there was also a bug which occasionally saw the database updated when location services was turned off. They do not specifically say in their notes that this bug is fixed, but as they delete the database when location services is turned off, this would imply that the bug would have nowhere to write its data.

The updates are compatible with the iPhone 4 (GSM and CDMA models), the iPhone 3GS, the iPad 2, the original iPad, and the 3rd and 4th generation iPod Touch. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and 1st and 2nd generation iPod Touches are no longer supported and, as such, no longer receive iOS updates.

Full details about the updates can be found in the iOS 4.2.8 and 4.3.3 knowledge base articles on Apple's support web site. Users can update their iOS-based mobile devices using the latest version of iTunes.

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