People love to panic prematurely and when it comes to the Internet’s hive mind, there is nothing more worthy of our collective panic than a good privacy scandal. A user on German security forum Protecus recently discovered that a feature in iOS 7 continuously tracks users’ locations and stores them in a log. According to Apple’s software, this service tracks your location in order to “learn places you frequently visit in order to provide useful location-related information” in the new Notification Center. Of course, anytime you put the words “track” and “location” in the same sentence, things are bound to get a little hairy — and such is the case with this newly discovered iOS 7 feature.
While some might be intrigued by a system that could potentially enrich users’ smartphone experiences by providing smart new features based on location, a service like this clearly is not for everyone. But as iMore’s Rene Ritchie points out, locationgate should have taught us that it is far, far too early to panic.
iOS 7 is currently beta software intended only for developers. We have no idea what this feature will look like when iOS 7 finally launches. We have no idea if it will be enabled by default or if it will be opt-in, as Apple’s current location services are (you have to enable them during setup).
Our advice is to take Ritchie’s advice and withhold your panic until we know exactly what we’re dealing with here, which appears to simply be a new visual interface to show users the location data that iOS has already been collecting for years — when users give it permission to do so.
For those running Apple’s iOS 7 beta software who don’t want their locations tracked, this feature can be disabled in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations.