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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 30th April 2011

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See where you have been with the iPhone Tracker app

There has been a lot of talk on the web recently about the iPhone and the way that it tracks your location. For those people that missed it, basically the iPhone constantly works out where in the world it is at any moment in time and saves the location in a file. That file is then transferred to the computer and it is a complete history of where you have been and when.

Some people have complained that it is an invasion of privacy and a security risk. Is it? Why don't you take a look at the data yourself with the iPhone Tracker app.

Go and get the iPhone Tracker app, which is free an open source. Just run it on your Mac (you may be able to find Windows and Linux versions, but here we're looking at the original Mac app).

The app displays a map of the world and you can see red blobs where the iPhone has recorded your location. Double click to zoom in and then zoom in some more.

The app shows your lcoation and at the bottom of the window is a play button so you can view the data over time and see how it changes. It's a fascinating app and you might be surprised by some of the locations - did I really go there? It can be hard to remember sometimes.

The iPhone records the location information on the phone and then it is copied to the computer when you sync the phone. What happens to it then? Apple says nothing is done with the data. However, the very fact that it exists has some people worried though.

Any phone that provides GPS and location-based services probably does a similar thing and it is said that Android phones also record your location too. It is hard to avoid. Now that you can see the information you can make your own decision as to whether it is a privacy and security issue.

Just think, any app you run on your computer has the ability to read this file and upload it to its owner somewhere on the web. You would think at least it would be encrypted and not so easily accessible.

You can always switch off you phone or buy one of those budget models without GPS and location services, but then it's not much fun is it?

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