It’s a bug not a feature

bugby whologwhy

Andy Ihnatko on iOS 4’s Location-Tracking Log
[Via Daring Fireball]

Best piece I’ve seen on the “consolidated.db” location-tracking log:

A few reality checks, lest I inadvertently do a Glenn Beck number on all of you, here:

  • This database isn’t storing GPS data. It’s just making a rough location fix based on nearby cell towers. The database can’t reveal where you were…only that you were in a certain vicinity. Sometimes it’s miles and miles off. This implies that the logfile’s purpose is to track the performance of the phone and the network, and not the movements of the user.
  • A third party couldn’t get access to this file without physical access to your computer or your iPhone. Not unless you’ve jailbroken your iPhone and didn’t bother resetting its remote-access password… or there’s an unpatched exploit that would give Random Person On The Internet root access to your phone.
  • It’s pretty much a non-issue if you’ve clicked the “Encrypt iPhone Backup” option in iTunes. Even with physical access to your desktop, a no-goodnik wouldn’t be able to access the logfile.


These are all god points to indicate that this is really a non-issue. Anything Apple is always good for a few page hits.

But Gruber at Daring Fireball, who has a lot of ears in the system, also said that the file seems to be a cache file that was written to be as a temp file for location data. It just appears someone forgot to write the part to erase this cache so it just slowly builds up with data this is really not useful for much.

as is often the case – for just about anything – there is nothing nefarious here, just human error.

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