Is Apple logging wireless network locations?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Combustion, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. Combustion macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Hi all,

    I have a very puzzling conundrum. Consider the following situation:
    At home I have a wireless network set up for the family to use (protected and SSID hidden). My iPhone is set up to use the wireless network here at home and of course, many other places. While it is connected, it is fairly likely that the location services/GPS is activated because I barely ever feel the need to turn it off.

    Recently I have began some basic iPhone/Cocoa Touch development and while investigating Core Data, I downloaded Apple's "Locations" sample code which, like any other app using location data, has to call the Location API to do anything with location data. I first deployed it to my iPhone and started logging some locations. Impressed by Core Data I went back to make some changes to see what you could fine tune. This time I ran it in the simulator on my MBP. Up pop's the Mac OS X location window and naturally I hit Allow. When I add a location (expecting it to fail), it adds co-ordinates almost identical (sans just a second) to those added using my iPhone while using WiFi in the front yard. Intrigued, I disable AirPort on the MBP, no more location data. I go a little further and disable the internet connection from inside the modem and stay connected to the WiFi. No location data. Enable the internet again, and guess what, location data is back.

    What am I to make of this? Is Apple grabbing the MAC addresses of WiFi base stations and associating them with GPS Co'ords and putting it all in a database? I am going to check out just what is happening when the calls are made to save a location (save some packet goodness), but this is peculiar. Or at least I think so. It could be another possibility, that the Mac finds the iPhone on the WiFi and requests a GPS fix. I will try that too.

    Anyone else hear of anything like this? Or am I just crazy?

  2. Hawkeye411 macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2007
    Canada EH!!!
    Same thing happens when I use Google Maps on my iPad (no 3G). Doesn't matter where I am in town .... when I turn on Google Maps connected to WiFi, it locates me pretty accurately.

    If you think you are accessing the web anonymously, your kidding yourself.

  3. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    Yes, they use Skyhook...

    However, don't put this with Google street view. They logged data from wireless access points as they drove by, which much, much worse.
  4. Combustion thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2009
    Yes, I know they use Skyhook. However, privacy laws in Australia (where I live) prohibit a company like Skyhook using that information without legal written proof that they are allowed too. To my knowledge, home networks are not used by Skyhook in Australia.

    Also, if it is Skyhook, is this built into Mac OS X as well?
  5. Kieranic Guest

    Apr 23, 2010
    I thought they only grabbed what someone could see if they walked by, opened their laptop and found the router (e.g. only see the name and the fact it was password-locked)?

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