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iOS tracking file a bug or code oversight, report claims

updated 01:05 pm EDT, Thu April 21, 2011

File may actually be location cache

The controversial location history file in iOS may simply be a mistake on Apple's part, says Daring Fireball's John Gruber. Citing an unidentified source, Gruber suggests that consolidated.db is actually intended to be a cache for location data. The data should be culled automatically, but iOS is thought to be leaving it alone because of a bug or a simple oversight on Apple's part.

It's speculated that the problem could be fixed in a future iOS update. Apple has already drawn considerable flak over the file however, as it is unprotected by default, and could theoretically reveal a person's home and travel habits. Minnesota senator Al Franken has even issued a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking for an explanation.

Mitigating the file's threat is the imprecision of the location data, and the fact that an attacker would need either direct access or a remote opening presented by a hack or exploit. It is also possible to impose a limited umbrella protection by encrypting device backups in iTunes. This, though, may be irrelevant if an attacker has the iPhone or 3G iPad in question.

by MacNN Staff



  1. J2-Droid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just an oversite

    A complex cell triangulation algorithm paired with a detailed map. Sounds like a simple mistake to me.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I buy it

    I'm sure it's just a cache of information. Wait, isn't a 'cache' usually data that is stored in an easily accessible location/file so they don't have to read the data from other locations. So is the information in other places?

    Although I don't know if you can believe any statement on the matter that tries to say anything like "It's an oops". No one believed Google over their wireless sniffing. Apple not saying anything doesn't give one any sense of "I'm sure it's a goof". Apple coming out later and saying "Oh, yeah, um, that's a 'bug'. We'll fix that." just makes it sound like they got caught.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    like we're to trust Apple shill Gruber because he says he thinks it's a bug. Might as well ask Guy Kawasaki whether he thinks I should buy a Mac or a PC.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    George Orwell anyone?

    The more Apple (- no longer just A. Computer...) grows, the more it´s starts to look like the character on the screens of it´s 80's commercial instead of the runner that smashes it.

    I wonder how Mr. Jobs comes out of this one?

    Bah, the standard - "It's a feature meant to enhance the user experience" will most likely suffice to the hordes of new fan boys.

    Interestingly enough, old so called "fan boys" do not seem to believe most of Apple's recent strategies point towards making a better product or user experience, rather to _______ the consumer - err, user... Please feel free to fill in the blank!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. tonewheel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mr. Oversite...

    "...consolidated.db is actually intended to be a cache for location data."

    It is intended to be there. You did read the article, yes?

  1. MorituriMax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    From what I have seen and heard, this "bug" cache file actually survives across restores. Hmmm, strange how that works.

    I have a visual of Steve Jobs yelling to the office workers, "Cheezit! I'll stall them all with 'rumours of an upcoming patch,' shred everything!"

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Mr. Oversite...

    It's Oversight, not oversite.

    It is intended to be there. You did read the article, yes?

    That's the 'supposition' of the author that it is intended to be there. He's guessing, based mainly on his belief that "Well, I'm sure Apple wouldn't do anything nefarious".

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's funny to see the reactions of the folk here. If the same actions were to take place on iOS and Android, there would be very different reactions from the fans. Those who defend Apple's actions will turn around and persecute Android for doing the exact same thing.

    Can't we all just get along??


    - Sent from my Android Device.

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