Apple has been releasing iOS updates left and right lately, greeting iPhone owners with a prompt every time they start up iTunes. Many are wondering if these updates are important, what the purpose of the updates are, and whether or not it's actually worth the time to continue installing. When it comes to the latest update, iOS 4.3.3, Apple has made significant changes to the way in which location data is stored on your device.
Responding to criticism and questions from across the board, Apple is reacting to a discovery by security researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden. The pair discovered a log file on the iPhone and iPad that keeps location data from cellular tower triangulation indefinitely. With software they wrote, they were able to see maps of where they had been with their iPhones ever since the iOS 4.0 update was installed.
Although there are ways to block location tracking without updating to iOS 4.3.3, the best method is to go ahead and update your iPhone to the latest operating system from Apple. The company announced its plans to deal with the location tracking problem last week, and now with the iOS 4.3.3 update it has made these plans reality:
- The size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone is now reduced to seven days or less.
- This location data cache will no longer be backed up to iTunes on your computer.
- The cache will be deleted entirely when Location Services is turned OFF in the Settings.
These changes should address the problem. The real question is do you care whether or not a database of your whereabouts is stored on your iPhone. If not then there's no problem to fix and installing the iOS 4.3.3 update can be considered a waste of your time. If you're not comfortable with this data sitting around on your mobile devices and computer, then by all means install the update so you can stop worrying.
iOS 4.3.3 is available for free via iTunes and compatible with the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation.