Apple today directly addressed the controversy over its iPhone tracking practices for the first time, forcefully stating that it does not track its users as has been claimed.
On its website, Apple explains that: "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so." That's technically true: The location data stored on the phone is not accessible to Apple or stored on Apple's servers. It's stored on the device, and only by stealing or hacking into the device can the information be gathered.
"The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it's maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested."
A bit of semantics there to be sure, but the point is that Apple is simply caching location data much in the same way that streaming services cache portions of streamed songs for quicker playback. The more data about location, song, video, or whatever that can be kept on the phone, the less processing power it takes to access the information and the quicker the information can be relayed to the user. Also, Apple said it didn't intend to collect and store location data for up to a year, as had been found on some phones, classifying this as a "bug" it intends to fix so that location data is cached for only seven days.
Will this quell the debate over the issue? Probably not, but from an entertainment perspective, location data is a highly useful tool that will enhance the usefulness of both the smartphone itself and the apps available on it. Paranoia over a sci-fi Big Brother watching your every move is not going to help grow the mobile entertainment space.