Derek Shanahan

The iPhone Is Secretly Tracking My Location? Cool!

There’s a lot of debate right now about the iPhone tracking file that hackers uncovered a day or two ago.

But we should care about the implications of a rich file of geographic data living on our iOS devices offering no customer benefit, creating digital footprints that we can’t erase.

Why You Should Care About the iPhone Location-Tracking Issue

Apple’s pretty much in the wrong on this one and they’ll find a way to encrypt the file and this will go away, so I’m not too worried about it. I don’t really think it’s worth you being worried about either.

However, the file is actually pretty cool.

The hackers (@aallan & @petewarden) who discovered it wrote a program to show everyone their own data, to solidify the “creep factor for everyone”. Obviously I had to see this…where have I been over the last year or two?

I zoomed in for the image above, showing my adventures around Vancouver.

Below is a wider view…looks like it’s got my SXSW travel and San Diego, which was well over two years ago.  Conspicuously missing is San Francisco and New York, which is puzzling because I was in both cities last year.

It also appears to have me running around the Midwest, which means that data is from my old gig living in Chicago, before I moved to Vancouver. The file is in iTunes, so it’s lasted through three iPhones.

[click on image for bigger view. for bigger view of the top image click here]

I don’t travel enough…all my points are on North America.

I have to say, it’s cool enough for me to want an app to track me without my having to do anything; I can think of a whole bunch of awesome ways to make use of that data usefully (albeit with my permission).  I’m using Daytum to record where I sleep every night (hap tip to Brad Feld)…this could theoretically let me know where I’ve slept for the last three years.

We’re constantly generating information that could be used in cool ways and I know that scares some people, but for me the way tech can sit in the background and provide some modicum of value to us (get out of our way and do cool shit) is what excites me about technology.

So anyway, what’s your map look like?

4 comments
doniree
doniree

Just checked mine out, and the coolest thing about it is how exactly-mapped two road trips are : 1) the one I took from Boulder to Reno and back last summer, and 2) the move from Boulder to Portland. Must've been checking in, tweeting, etc., a LOT from there. Also, a ton of activity in NYC, and while I have been there a few times in the last couple of years, I wasn't expecting that map dot to be bigger than my Portland and Boulder ones. Caught my connecting flight in Phoenix in January, and has a little bubble of activity in/near Huntsville, Alabama, where my extended family lives.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Are you all brainwashed? How the hack can you say this is cool?! Go and ask them to put a chip in your skin!

freeandflawed
freeandflawed

I think the biggest problem people had was that they didn't know Apple was doing this. Much like the scuffle with Facebook when people "didn't know" they were keeping track of your data. I, too, believe Apple will encrypt this so I'm not very worried. I'm VERY curious to see what my map looks like!