Mobile devices and their ability to store users' location details has been the subject of plenty of attention from the tech media over the past week or so, after it emerged that Apple's iOS keeps a log of location data on board iDevices without asking for permission first.
A couple of days ago Steve Jobs issued one of his typically brusque email dismissals that Apple had done anything wrong, and now we have the opposite: a long-winded Q&A press release saying... well... pretty much the exact same thing.
First, the Steve Jobs comment, which fortunately doesn't take long. A reader emailed the Apple boss saying they were thinking of switching to an Android phone because Google doesn't track its users. Jobs' response? “Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.”
Surprisingly enough, the whole world wasn't willing to forget the whole thing just because Steve Said So, especially given his casual accusation in Google's direction.
And so to today's press release, a lengthy Q&A that steers well clear of any mention of Google, but gives away an interesting nugget of information in explaining Apple's own position: the data is being stored partly to build up a crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and mobile tower database Apple plans to use in a mapping service “in the next couple of years”.
“This data is not the iPhone’s location data,” the release claims. “It is a subset (cache) of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database which is downloaded from Apple into the iPhone to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location.”
Apple certainly isn't admitting to any wrongdoing, but it does admit the length of time the data is stored on board is too long – even though it labels the fact as “a bug”.
Neither does anyone else, we think it's safe to say.