Apple spends a lot of time talking about how much it respects your privacy, casting Google as an invasive plight on the common user. However, security researcher Brian Krebs (of Krebs On Security fame) has demonstrated that the iPhone 11 Pro still reaches out to Apple’s servers to log your location even when all the location access toggles are turned off. Apple says this is “expected behavior,” but it’s a misleading setup at the very least.
As he demonstrates, the iPhone seems to still log your location even after turning off location access for each service. You can go down the list and shut off everything like Cell Network Search and Emergency Calls, but the location icon still pops up in the status bar. That means there are some system-level location tracking features that are not exposed in the settings menu.
On the other side of the fence, Android exposes location settings for each installed app as well as Google’s various services. The equivalent to Apple’s network monitoring is called Google Location Accuracy, and you can shut it off manually without disabling all location services on the phone. Google does also offer an option to disable all location services during setup.
Apple notes that this is the way it designed iOS to work. If you want to really stop all location tracking, you have to turn off the location services toggle. This is not necessarily surprising, but Apple probably shouldn’t be telling people that its Location Services menu includes all the toggles they’ll need. It gives some location data collection special status, making it harder to disable. That’s not the kind of behavior we’d expect from a company that so regularly chastises the competition for its data collection practices.
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