It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

Summary: Plot what Apple has been tracking to relive some of your travels

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Everyone is up in arms about the fact that Apple has been tracking your movements without you knowing since iOS4 came out, which was end of June 2010.

Well, if you're not so concerned about that and instead want to relive some of your travels, there are a few different ways of doing it.

For Mac users

If you're on a mac, download iPhoneTracker. Once downloaded just launch the App and moments later you'll be presented with a timeline that shows you where Apple thinks your phone has been. I say thinks because it's really just reporting where your phone has been based on cell phone tower triangulation and not actual GPS coordinates.

For PC users

If you're on a PC, you can download nphonetrack. With nphonetrack you have the option of viewing the results in Google Earth or exporting as a CSV so you can view the data in a spreadsheet. My colleague, Adrian, wrote up a great post on using nphonetrack, so be sure to take a look.

In my case, I used iPhoneTracker. Below is a screenshot of the All Time view of my iPhone 4. As you can see, I primarily stayed on the east coast, but did manage to get out to the west coast, and the middle of the U.S., too. The interesting thing is that I don't recall going out to the west coast, so I'm not sure when I picked up a cell tower out there. Otherwise, the data is pretty accurate.

However, my friend, Jonathan Stark was not so lucky. His map showed most of his travels, but his trip to Iceland was missing, but his girlfriend's phone was showing it (she traveled with him). His London trips were also missing, but everything else was intact. See below.

Be sure to try one of the apps above and comment about your own experience below. You can also send me your pics if you want, and I'll post them up if you give me permission to use your first name, too.

I'm going to e-mail this article to few friends of mine who work at HTC and Microsoft. They are always flying around the world, so I'm dying to see what their maps look like.

Topics: Apple, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, Wi-Fi

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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  • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

    "It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db"

    It's also fun to see idiotic headlines like this - Apple hasn't been tracking anyone as Apple doesn't harvest data from consolidated and doesn't have access to data in the phone or in the sync computer.


    Unlike Google:
    "Though there are some differences and the on-device data isn't accessible in the same way, Google does collect this data in a way that could be tied to an individual user."

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/04/android-phones-keep-location-cache-too-but-its-harder-to-access.ars
    kitko
    • So you are absolutely sure.....

      @kitko

      you know about ALL the communication that goes on between your set and Apple? It is alleged that the police is already using this data. Where do they get it from? As far as I know, Apple has yet to comment on this issue.

      Ask yourself this: If Apple has no use for it, why is it there? One usually does not create functionality or data for no purpose whatsoever. Maybe you are just a tad naive? Or a fan boy?
      Economister
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister Nicely put. I was thinking the same thing.
        statuskwo5
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister <br>If you would've done the tiniest bit of research on the internet you may have come across this<br><br><i>While some people suspect that cell phone makers may be storing this information to help advertisers better target subscribers, the tracking technology may also be used to help route calls and data sessions. And it could be used to help location-based apps on these devices when GPS signals aren't available.</i><br>Read more: <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20056583-266.html#ixzz1KM5zj0Tb" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20056583-266.html#ixzz1KM5zj0Tb</a><br><br>Should I ask you to tighten that tinfoil hat of yours?
        MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • And yours?

        @MG537<br><br><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/22/apple_iphone_location_tracking_analysis/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/22/apple_iphone_location_tracking_analysis/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/22/apple_iphone_location_tracking_analysis/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/22/apple_iphone_location_tracking_analysis/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/22/apple_iphone_location_tracking_analysis/</a></a></a></a><br><br>Any unquestioning idiot can come up with a web link to support his/her fan boy/girl position. Now, thinking just a LITTLE BIT for yourself, that can be a REAL challenge.<br><br>How are YOU doing in that department? Did you notice the words "may" and "could" in your quote? Apparently not. Who cares about "may" or "could"? Why don't you try to apply your constrained mind to my original question? Why IS (not "may..." or "could...") it there if Apple has no interest in or purpose for it?

        Edit: Does coming up with "may" or "could" qualify as "research" in your mind? Apparently so.
        Economister
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister <br>In the absence of any evidence to the contrary one tries to go with the most logical explanation.<br><br>On one hand we have some random unknown internet dude's insinuation that Apple is keeping that file on your phone and computer for some sinister reason.<br>On the other hand we have Maggie Reardon's post over at CNET. She asks around and she comes up with possible explanations, different from yours, as to why those files are on your phone. <br><br>Well, sorry to break it to you but my money is with Maggie on this one.

        And as for your unquestioning idiot remarks directed at me, I have one last thing to say to you. Go back to watching those X-Files reruns.
        MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister <br><br>Why was the data saved? It's a cache of values that require a network lookup from a third party created database, meaning it costs time and it may cost money. Most of our time is spent in the same locations, so why put all that traffic, asking the same question over and over, on the network? Caching improves the performance of the location apis.<br><br>How did the police get the data? App or crack. I do not think that the police call up Apple or AT&T, give them an iPhone serial number and get a Dropbox link to location data. There needs to be a subpoena or a search warrant, I'm thinking. I'm also thinking that to centrally collect such data is to invite wasteful, costly engagement with attorneys in civil and criminal matters. As for just giving out the information: think of the liabilities.<br><br>That's what I think based on what I've read and my experience.<br><br>What do you think and why? You ask a lot of questions. You pose some premises. You make generalizations about idiots who believe what they find on the internet. (Though smart people find correct facts and theories on the internet, too.)<br><br>Spell it out. Don't be coy.
        DannyO_0x98
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister I'll tell you how the police get it, they get it by having physical access to your device--either the phone or the computer used to sync it.

        The consolidated.db file is not being sent to Apple. Signal forensics experts have already verified this fact.

        APPLE IS NOT tracking your location--you are tracking your own, as the data stays in your possession, unless you are so lax with your own security to give others access to your data.
        lelandhendrix@...
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Economister Cue the double standards. You expect him to be absolutely sure that he knows about ALL communication between his device to back up his claim. Then you use "alleged" to back up your claims. Then in your very next post you say [i]"Did you notice the words "may" and "could" in your quote? Apparently not. Who cares about "may" or "could"?"[i/]. Sorry, but the hypocrisy of your posts is pathetic.
        non-biased
  • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

    You'd get more from my log ins on Foursquare and Facebook.

    You can't even see where my house is, there's places I've never been and the places I have been are up to 200 miles off.

    You can see that I spent most of my time in Sydney Australia along with 5 or so million other people.
    alsobannedfromzdnet
    • Are not log ins from Foursquare and Facebook

      @alsobannedfromzdnet
      by your choice, with your knowledge?
      :|
      Tim Cook
    • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

      @alsobannedfromzdnet
      Which is worse...known invasion of privacy or unknown invasion of privacy? Pretty soon this .db will (unfortunately) be manipulated the same way cookies are on personal computers. Just give it time.
      john15v16
  • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

    The more I learn about this the more that it is turning out to be a non news issue.
    Which is actually a good thing.
    MoeFugger
  • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

    If any corporation creates a feature or process, it is and attempt to sell you something, there need not be any hidden motive.
    jaypug06791@...
  • As usual - the extremes are the loudest.

    The pro-Apple crowd will run in and defend Apple by discounting possible threats they're prepared to live with...

    The anti-Apple crowd will run in and attack Apple by overstating the threats they're not prepared to live with.

    In the end - as usual, the truth is somewhere between the two.

    If you look at the output of the app, you'll see that Apple's data is a grid - almost certainly used to help it locate or track cell services. It's not precise enough to locate a person down to a specific place - which means that sorry - no - it can't be used for advertising and the like directly.

    However, it DOES track where you've been in a general sense and so could be used to tailor various services to your locality. It also does allow tracking of what country and even what city you're currently in.

    On the other hand, this can be done by any of a thousand other ways (including your WiFi MAC address), so it's kind of small security hole, other than the fact that it's stored.

    As for 'Apple doesn't have access to it', uhm... Apple built the OS - they have access to everything in the phone unless encrypted in some way or in a format they don't know. Assuming Apple isn't doing something with this data is kind of naive.

    The question isn't 'is Apple using this data' - it's 'is Apple doing something I don't WANT them doing with it.' If you're an Apple fan, you'll trust Apple. If not, then you won't.
    TheWerewolf
    • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

      @TheWerewolf ...Ask President Hu why Pingguo wants your sata.
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      • RE: It's fun to view what Apple has been tracking in consolidated.db

        @Feldwebel Wolfenstool ....DATA, not sata...
        Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • Just goes to show how the media jumps on stuff without a clue

    To read their headlines you'd have to figure Apple is following you around in a panel truck.
    A big non story.
    GoPower
    • Not paranoid if they're really after you

      @GoPower Not only is Apple following you around, Hollywood is forcing you to go to 3D movies, and the television manufacturers are going to force you to buy a new 3D TV. The whole world is out to get us. Only Greenpeace and the government can help.

      You'd think the politicians had taken over here.
      Robert Hahn
      • I don't see how a concious choice to go to the movies

        @Robert Hahn
        is the same as tracking our whereabouts without our knowledge.
        John Zern