Note: This post has been updated--read here: http://briandagan.com/update-confirmed-your-iphone-is-tracking-your
This is a rather disturbing assertion, that I wouldn’t have believed myself if I hadn’t tried it…
“Your iPhone Is Secretly Tracking Everywhere You’ve Been, All The Time”
Please note that you must have a Mac in order to run the application that can parse the map data. Also, your iPhone must be running at least iOS 4 (which was released around a year ago).
You can download the Mac application from here: http://static.openheatmap.com.s3.amazonaws.com/iPhoneTracker.app.zip
…and an explanation of how it works: http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/#faq
To test this, I plugged in my iPhone and fired up iTunes… I then had to run a manual backup to make sure the most up-to-date tracking data had been downloaded to my Mac from my iPhone. To force a manual backup, right-click on your device in iTunes on your Mac and choose Back Up from the menu:
You can then extract and run the Mac application:
…and then prepare to be shocked, as you look at all of your logged locations from the time you upgraded to iOS 4 and onward:
…and here’s a zoomed-in view of my travels in the DC area:
At this point, there is no way to disable this tracking.
It does not use the GPS functionality—it triangulates your location based on cell towers…
This is spooky… I’m sure there will be updates to follow. It will be interesting to see what Apple has to say about this.