New iPhones Access Location Info When Settings are Disabled Due to Ultra Wideband, Toggle Coming in Future Update

Earlier this week, security researcher Brian Krebs found that the new iPhone 11 Pro models access user location data even when all apps and system services on the iPhone are set to not request the data.

Krebs told Apple that he had found a possible privacy bug as this presumably should not happen, but Apple told him that there were no concerns and the ‌iPhone‌ was operating as designed. "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," Apple said.

iphone 11 and 11 pro no background
Krebs came to the conclusion that Apple has certain system services that check for location regardless of whether the setting has been disabled individually for apps and system services, which, as it turns out, is accurate.

Apple today provided more context in a statement to TechCrunch, explaining that the new ‌iPhone‌ models that have a U1 ultra wideband chip are using location data to make sure they're not in restricted areas.

As Apple explains, there are some areas where ultra wideband technology is not allowed because of international regulations, so the ‌iPhone‌ must make sure it is not in these locations.

Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations. 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 ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data.

Apple says that the location checks are done on device and no data about location is being sent to Apple's servers.

In the future, Apple plans to provide a dedicated toggle that will turn off the ultra wideband technology and thus disallow the background location tracking that's currently going on.

Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
16 months ago
We got caught.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
V_Man Avatar
16 months ago
Well now that it’s public knowledge they will offer a toggle
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1144557 Avatar
16 months ago
I dont care either way really. The explanation seems to jive with what was found and isnt "spying" on you but using the location for other things like to see if a feature can be used in a region (versus doing what say Pixel 4 did and just not sell the phone there)

I dont see that as a legit privacy concern if it stays on device; the chip says am I in this region? No. Ok. Am I i this region? No. ok.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iGeneo Avatar
16 months ago
A non-issue and a solid explanation from Apple

Move along, noting nefarious here. FairPlay to Apple for adding a toggle to satisfy the tin foil hat crowd
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dave-Z Avatar
16 months ago
It's discovered that Android devices use location services when those services are set to disabled. iPhone users laugh and mock.

It's discovered that Apple devices use location services when those services are set to disabled. iPhone users nod and accept.

The fact that Apple releases a statement after they are caught (just like with those Siri recordings) shows their true nature. If privacy was truly a priority for Apple, this information would have been disclosed before the fact and a toggle provided when such hardware was released.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1144557 Avatar
16 months ago

And all this for a useless chip. Come on Apple, what are you waiting for?
What is your legitimate privacy concern being griped about? Explain with facts not Apple opinion this or that.

If the ultra-wideband chip can only function in certain countries due to licensing issues, and the chip says to the processor, check gps location, am I in country x? No? Ok good I will stay on. And keeps doing that to check status to turn the UWB chip on or off.

If all of that stays on device, what is the legitimate privacy concern there?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...