Steve Jobs speaks out on iOS location issue: Apple isn't tracking anyone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs gave a rare interview this week as his company combats a firestorm of publicity regarding a location database file stored by the iOS operating system, and he reaffirmed that Apple has not been tracking anyone.



Jobs spoke on Wednesday with Ina Fried of Mobilized, and explained that the location data stored on iPhones running iOS 4 is used to deliver location-based information. He took the opportunity to explain that Apple is not keeping track of everywhere its users have been, and also declined to specifically comment on other companies' privacy policies, including Google.



"The files they found on these phones, as we explained, it turned out were basically files we have built through anonymous, crowdsourced information that we collect from the tens of millions of iPhones out there," Jobs reportedly said.



Jobs also admitted that the technology industry has not adequately explained to users how location services on devices like the iPhone work.



"As new technology comes into the society, there is a period of adjustment and education," Jobs said in the telephone interview. "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 past week."



Jobs' interview is part of a strong public relations push being made by Apple to counter what it sees as misinformation that has circulated in the media over the last week. Also on Wednesday, Apple issued a series of questions and answers, in which it explained that the size of the location information file and the length of time information is stored on an iPhone or 3G-equipped iPad is a software bug.



"The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly," Apple said in its Q&A. An iOS update to address the issue is scheduled to arrive in a matter of weeks. "We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data."







In the interview, Jobs also revealed that Apple will take part in a U.S. Senate hearing on privacy scheduled for May. Apple and other technology companies were asked to participate in the Senate judiciary hearing on mobile technology privacy this week.



Finally, the Apple co-founder also said he would be interested to see how aggressively the press decides to pursue other device manufacturers with regard to user privacy. "Some of them don't do what we do," he reportedly said. "That's for sure."



Jobs' participation in the interview is also noteworthy because he has taken a medical leave of absence from his daily duties at Apple. The CEO announced his leave in January, but still took the stage to unveil the iPad 2 in March.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Get well soon Steve!
  • Reply 2 of 74
    Good to hear that Steve Jobs is taking this one head on. And well put:



    ?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."



    And I've loved Ina Fried while at CNet News. Glad she gets an interview with Steve and I hope there are many more. I know she did lots with big honchos at Microsoft, writes really great stories and understands technology very well. Bonus is her great sense of humor.
  • Reply 3 of 74
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,530member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Jobs also admitted that the technology industry has not adequately explained to users how location services on devices like the iPhone work.



    It wouldn't matter. The critics and whiners making a stink about it are just too lazy to take the time to actually understand the issue before shooting their mouths off.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "As new technology comes into the society, there is a period of adjustment and education," Jobs said in the telephone interview. "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 past week."



    Jumping to wrong conclusions is an understatement. Politicians use Apple as a punching bag in order to put them in the limelight and get coverage. Other folks simply hide behind the "Big Brother is watching us" mentality and spew out all kinds of conspiracy theories.



    I kind of miss portions of years-past when irrelevant schmuck posters did not have the ability to reach a wide audience in such a quick fashion. People had more time to think about information before blasting away on the keyboard, only to look like idiots in the end.
  • Reply 4 of 74
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly," Apple said in its Q&A. An iOS update to address the issue is scheduled to arrive in a matter of weeks. "We don't think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data."




    A bug they uncovered!? Weren't we (including Apple) all made aware of this issue almost a year ago?



    Nice prioritization of bugs! Well done.
  • Reply 5 of 74
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    Nice prioritization of bugs! Well done.



    That is my only real criticism of Apple here. They did not have their priorities in the appropriate order.
  • Reply 6 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    A bug they uncovered!? Weren't we (including Apple) all made aware of this issue almost a year ago?



    Nice prioritization of bugs! Well done.



    We weren't all made aware of the consolidated.db file a year ago. Yes it was supposed to be logging cell towers and WiFi hotspots, it just wasn't supposed to be storing them for so long. It's the storing them for so long part that's the bug.
  • Reply 7 of 74
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,214member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    A bug they uncovered!? Weren't we (including Apple) all made aware of this issue almost a year ago?



    Nice prioritization of bugs! Well done.



    The risk exposure is almost non-existant as it can, at best (after you get physical access to a device/computer), pin point a user to an area of many 10's of square miles. At worst, the information covers an area of 1000's of square miles.



    The amount of sensitive information available (like email/text/calendar/schedules/contacts) once you get physical access to a device far outweighs the data the consolidated.db file contains.
  • Reply 8 of 74
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jacksons View Post


    A bug they uncovered!? Weren't we (including Apple) all made aware of this issue almost a year ago?



    Nice prioritization of bugs! Well done.





    From a developer stand point, bugs like this often slip trough the cracks. When you're dealing with something as complicated as iOS, theres bound to be a TON of bugs, some relating to another and others independently causing problems.



    The fact that usability is one of the most important thing in products and services can put other bugs, such as this one (which is not causing any harm or problems in the short run or long run) on the back burner, and as things build up and get used, newer bugs can overshadow and demand attention over the lowest level bugs, even if they are older.



    To me, it makes sense that a bug like this exists and there is no doubt plenty of them in iOS or any other software out there. Just because attention has been brought to it doesn't mean that there aren't larger things demanding your time over it.
  • Reply 9 of 74
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,792member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly," Apple said in its Q&A.



    The bug was not discovered by Apple.
  • Reply 10 of 74
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post


    That is my only real criticism of Apple here. They did not have their priorities in the appropriate order.





    I'd rather them work on things to improve the user experience than fixing a bug on a location database that is used anonymously by Apple to further improve said user experience. If these two guys didn't make a big stink of it, and people would encrypt and passcode protect their CE devices like they should, it wouldn't be such an issue and the "bug" probably would have been caught and fixed without us knowing. No harm done, as far as I'm concerned.
  • Reply 11 of 74
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    The bug was not discovered by Apple.



    And you know this? how?



    It's perfectly possible that they were aware of this bug's existence before the big media shitstorm.
  • Reply 12 of 74
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    The bug was not discovered by Apple.



    The bug was discovered by Apple, the location DB in question wasn't.
  • Reply 13 of 74
    pokepoke Posts: 506member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    The bug was not discovered by Apple.



    Somebody else has access to the iOS code?
  • Reply 14 of 74
    nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    Yap! Tell them Steve.

    I wish you a quick recovery.
  • Reply 15 of 74
    I guess we will now see the difference between iOS and Android now that the dog has pisssed on the flag pole. How tracking is done the "open source" Google way is vastly different than how Apple curated apps work.... this is going to be fun....
  • Reply 16 of 74
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,214member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    The bug was not discovered by Apple.



    Depends on what was the original design. If you had a requirement like (or use case or what ever design methodology Apple employs):



    The location services system shall maintain at least 7 days of cached location data on local wifi access points and cell towers.



    that flowed down to specific software requirements that entered into more detail, the implementation might have looked at the "at least 7 days" as a minimum value with no specific maximum. From a testing and validation standpoint, the system/software does not have any "bugs" but there might be a conceptual "bug" in that the real requirement really was:



    When location services are enabled, the location services system shall maintain between 7 and 10 days of cached location data on local wifi access points and cell towers.



    When location services are disabled, the location services system shall remove all cached location data from local wifi access points and cell towers.



    The truth is, we don't know exactly where the "bug" was. Was it system specs, software requirements, design or code? Or was it all four? It could be the "bug" was only discovered after reviewing the actual documentation with the original intent of how this was suposed to work.



    It could be there was no bug but after this issue was brought to light, a review was made of how this sub-system functioned and Apple realized the solution was not really optimal and had issues.
  • Reply 17 of 74
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Jobs also admitted that the technology industry has not adequately explained to users how location services on devices like the iPhone work.



    The only explanation needed by the public was for Apple to say they were aware of the problem and working on a fix.



    Apple has now done that and I think we can put this issue to bed.
  • Reply 18 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post


    The bug was not discovered by Apple.



    All other people did was find the file and look at the details. It's then on to Apple to look at the amount of information in this file and see if there is actually something wrong.



    For this reason only Apple can find and fix this bug because only they have the source code for the iOS. No one else has this.
  • Reply 19 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Get well soon Steve!



    Yes, and thank you, Steve, for taking the time out from medical leave to speaking out on this! You didn't have to, but thanks for doing it.
  • Reply 20 of 74
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post


    I'd rather them work on things to improve the user experience than fixing a bug on a location database that is used anonymously by Apple to further improve said user experience. If these two guys didn't make a big stink of it, and people would encrypt and passcode protect their CE devices like they should, it wouldn't be such an issue and the "bug" probably would have been caught and fixed without us knowing. No harm done, as far as I'm concerned.



    It?s inattention to detail more than anything. I guess when you?re known for your attention to detail any mistep, no matter how inconsequential, becomes an issue.



    PS: Are we ever going to get a response from Google on this matter or is now effectively closed. If it is that says a lot about the mindshare of Android.
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