User privacy and security is a major focal point for Apple and the products it sells. But late last month some questions and concerns were brought up regarding the company’s newest iPhone models.
Specifically, it was revealed that the iPhone 11 series continues to track a user’s location — even if the user has turned this off. Following the initial report, Apple provided a relatively weak statement on the matter, basically saying that, yes, it was happening, but, no, it didn’t see any issues:
We do not see any actual security implications. It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.
It only took one more day before Apple would change its tune on the matter and actually explain what was going on, which ultimately had to do with the Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology baked into its newest iPhones thanks to the U1 chip. Apple’s updated statement on the matter:
Ultra Wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain location. iOS uses Location Services to help determine if iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable Ultra Wideband and comply with regulations. The management of Ultrawide Band compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data.
And now, here are in the middle of January and it looks like Apple has decided to throw in an additional toggle for iPhone users to get more control over all of this. Earlier this week Apple seeded the second developer and public betas of iOS 13.3.1. Today it has been confirmed that the new software includes a dedicated toggle to turn off the UWB feature altogether — a feature that Apple said it would implement back in December of last year.
Brandon Butch was the first to notice (via 9to5Mac), and posted the finding on Twitter today:
So iOS 13.3.1 beta 2 does have a new toggle to disable Ultra Wideband. pic.twitter.com/Tswt7V5GMV
— Brandon Butch (@BrandonButch) January 17, 2020
(Click through to see the full image.)
When disabling the feature, there is a pop-up that will inform the user that, “Turning off location for networking and wireless may affect Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ultra Wideband Performance”.
It really does feel like Apple is still holding back on some of these elements, refusing to believe that customers actually want to be able to control these elements. Which has to be a hard habit to break after all these years. But at least the company listens at this point and we’re getting these types of changes rolled out, even if they should’ve been there the whole time.
Better late than never, right?