Apple has just introduced a new version of its mobile operating system. This update removes a bug that caused Apple’s smartphones and tablets to build a database of the areas they’ve visited over the previous weeks and months.
Last month, researchers discovered that the iPhone and iPad compile a database of the general areas where this smartphone or tablet has been. This set off a storm of protest from users, who believed Apple was tracking them without their permission. Apple responded by saying that they are not tracking the devices, but that the devices instead were maintaining a database of nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots in order to make quick calculations for its location services. This information is supposed to delete itself when that data is no longer necessary. However, it does not, and the company has promised to fix this bug.
The fix comes in iOS 4.3.3 which still compiles the database of nearby tower locations, but reduces the amount of data stored and deletes the entire contents as soon as location services are turned off. The database is also no longer backed up onto the user’s desktop.
Users of recent iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models can install this update simply by connecting their device to a Mac or PC running iTunes. Like all operating system upgrades, this process will take several minutes.
Verizon’s version of the iPhone 4 is a special case, as it’s still running iOS 4.2.7, which is why Apple has also introduced iOS 4.2.8 for this model, which also removes the tracking bug.