BuzzFeed Fails To Explain iOS 7's "Frequent Locations" Feature


More than ever before, we’ve become increasingly aware of our technology’s ability to monitor our movements. For the most part, smartphone users now have at least a vague understanding that service providers as well as apps and mapping services are collecting, asking for, and using location data all the time. Whether we read them or not, most of us agree to the terms of service and allow companies like Apple and Google as well as our mobile providers to track our locations. What’s less known, though, is what this data actually looks like.

For iOS 7 (expected to be released to the public in September) users, that information is about to become much more accessible, as one Hacker News commenter pointed out this morning. Using iOS 7 Beta 5, the user noticed that anyone with enabled “location services” can easily access their “frequent locations,” in iOS 7’s privacy settings.

You should not see this settings pane as an attempt to be more open and transparent about the data Apple collects, which is what BuzzFeed presents it as. That is just not what it is.

Frequent Locations is a standalone feature that is new to iOS 7. It can be enabled and disabled at will; the user is prompted on first launch too. If enabled, Apple uses this log to show you useful contextual information in the Today tab of Notification Center.

If disabled, this breadcrumb trail is never collected and the log in Settings would be empty. Frequent Locations is completely separate and distinct from normal Location Services.

Apple has not and will not track your location without your consent, ever.