The iPhone location tracking story just rolls on with folk dredging through patents as they ponder Apple’s thinking. Since Apple has kept schtum about the issue, that’s really not surprising. Gawker dredged up an Apple patent published on March 3 2011 which reveals potential uses for that big stash of location data stored on your iPhone…
The iPhone location data patent, credited to Apple senior engineering manager, Ronald Huang, is titled “Location histories for location aware devices”. It outlines how Apple could use the amassed locatiion data. The document outlines a mapping app called Location History which looks a lot like the opensource iPhone Tracker tool that brought the iPhone location storage issue to prominance in the first place.
In the patent, Apple describes how the iPhone location database could be “correlated or related” to other information including “data associated with a picture taking event, data associated with a financial transation, sensor output, data associated with a communication event (e.g. receipt of a phone call of instant message), data associated with a nework event…etc.”
The patent also explains methods from transmitting the collected data to remote servers and to other wireless devices. The patent also discusses data compression techniques to reduce the amount of storage needed to deal with repeated visits to the same locations. It also looks at how to prune older entries to maintain the freshness of the database without offering a specific cap on data size.
It’s easy to get frightened about the potential privacy issues thrown up by the iPhone location patent but it’s also important to remember that a) Apple submits hundreds of patents every year that it doesn’t put into action and b) that, just as services like Blippy can be useful in tracking your spending through card transactions, Apple could offer truly interesting services using that location data.
Hit the comments and let us know: does iPhone location tracking worry you?