Apple has now moved to reduce the amount of location-tracking information that the iPhone keeps about its users — but I think that Apple should have turned the controversial function into a cool new app.
The latest iOS update, released this morning, limits the amount of location-tracking information that it holds to one week, and stops this information from being backed-up in iTunes when the rest of the information on the device is backed-up.
It was the backing-up of this information that allowed researchers to create a tool that mapped users' location.
When news of this information first broke, my immediate reaction was that it didn't really bother me that Apple had kept this kind of information; I just wanted to see my own location data.
So that's exactly what I did.
Where I've been in the world (Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
A map of where I've been in New South Wales (Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
The above two photos give a rough overview of where I've been for the last twelve months or so. No real surprises — anyone who follows me on Twitter probably has a vague idea of the places I go. Shock horror, I spend a lot of time in Sydney at the ZDNet Australia offices and I've been to Japan.
Not exactly top-secret stuff.
I do understand that my situation might not apply to everyone, and it's true that Apple should have disclosed up front that it was keeping this information.
Consumers should have also have been given the option to opt-out if they weren't happy, but in an age where we're already sharing every bit of information about our lives on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and any infinite number of social media sites, it really makes no sense that Apple has pulled this feature back so drastically.
Apple could have easily turned this information into its own social media tracking application. If you want to retrace your steps after a big night out, there's an app for that. If you can't remember where exactly you parked your car, there's an app for that. If you don't remember where that restaurant was that you really liked, there's an app for that. There's just too many potential benefits for those of us who aren't too concerned that Steve Jobs might know where we are.