Apple’s reportedly shelved plans that would’ve significantly curtailed location collection

Apple’s allegedly abandoned plans to make changes to its iOS mobile operating system that sources say would’ve helped reduce the amount of location data collected by your iPhone.

The New York Times on Monday:

Apple recently shelved plans that industry insiders say would have significantly curtailed location collection. Last year, the company said an upcoming version of iOS would show a blue bar onscreen whenever an app not in use was gaining access to location data.

According to David Shim, CEO of Placed, this served as a “warning shot” to people in the location industry.

It is unclear why Apple has abandoned those plans but the newspaper may have misunderstood the information provided to them. It seems to me that the write-up might have referred to iOS 11 because that iOS version did permit some apps to collect location data in the background without displaying a blue bar.

We also know that the iPhone maker did originally plan to require all apps to overtly notify users when accessing their location in the background only to change its mind in the middle of iOS 11 development. Under the modified rules, apps which the user permitted to persistently track their location, like Uber, were no longer required to show the blue bar.

Apple’s redesigned the iOS status bar with last year’s iPhone X introduction due to the notch.

The blue bar does appear when my iPhone X is either providing a Personal Hotspot or an app such as Google Maps is actively using my location. Of course, the blue bar shows on iPhone X and later as a small bubble in the left “ear” behind the time. On iPhone 8 or earlier, the color goes all the way across the status bar.

It’s interesting that older iOS editions shamed apps that tracked users’ location in the background by displaying a flashing blue bar with an app name prominently at the screen top.

Apple’s app development rules mandate that developers use any gathered location data only for the purpose of providing a service directly relevant to the app or to serve advertising that meet Apple’s guidelines. But even though the official rules require apps to justify collecting location details via popups, its guidelines for writing those messages do not mention advertising or data sale, only features like getting “estimated travel times”.

Should iOS show in-progress location retrieval more prominently, do you think?

Apple requires apps to justify collecting location details via popups but these messages never mention advertising or data sale, only features like getting “estimated travel times”.

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