Uber Explains Why its App Appears to Track Users Days or Even Weeks After a Ride

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Uber responded on Friday to concerns surrounding its app's background tracking behavior by explaining that the issue is being caused by an update to iOS itself, not the company's ride-hailing app (via TechCrunch).

    Concerns were first raised about Uber's use of location services when the company announced it would track customers' whereabouts for a few minutes after their trip ends and the app is no longer open, in order to improve its service. Privacy advocates' main complaint was that the app offered no opt-out. However, since that time many users have reported that the app goes much further and appears to track them for days or even weeks after they last used the ride-hailing service, even when the app is closed.


    Uber now says the unintentional behavior is being triggered by the iOS Maps extension that Apple added to its mobile operating system in September, not due to a bug in the Uber app or because of its recent location services update.

    In iOS 10, Apple opened up Maps to third-party apps, allowing developers to create extensions that can be integrated into the search result of Maps. When an app is installed that features an extension for Apple Maps, it is automatically integrated, but the extension is disabled by default to prevent search results from getting too crowded.
    The confusion appears to lie in the way iOS 10 shows which apps use location services (Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services). The arrow icons are making users think third-party apps have silently been tracking them, when in fact it's due to the way Apple's Maps extension works in the background to provide location-based search results on request.

    To make things clearer for users, TechCrunch suggests Apple adopts another color-coded arrow icon in the Location Services screen in order to distinguish between when an app directly accesses location data, and when its Maps extension does so.

    Article Link: Uber Explains Why its App Appears to Track Users Days or Even Weeks After a Ride
  2. miniyou64, Dec 23, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016

    miniyou64 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2008
    Color is a terrible differentiation for UI for accessibility reasons. But Apple stopped caring about great UX since iOS7.
  3. Krizoitz macrumors 65816


    Apr 26, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    Nice to have such reasonable and nuanced takes on complex issues. /sarcasm
  4. canadianreader macrumors 6502


    Sep 24, 2014
    Disable location access to Uber app when you are not using it that should fix it.
  5. Strutten macrumors newbie


    Jun 18, 2015
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Than why is Uber the only map extension that has used the gps? I have three such extensions and Uber is the only one "calling home". I call ********.
  6. miniyou64 macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2008
    I'm a UX designer because of Apple. They taught me good UX. And they suck now. Everyday I find a new bug. It's not the Apple it used to be.
  7. JosephAW macrumors 68000


    May 14, 2012
    Yeah right. If integrating iOS maps into uber is the reason then why doesn't all the other apps we've enabled maps show as an active tracking as well?
    Nice try, better go back to the drawing board and think up a better excuse.
  8. -Garry- macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2005
    Manchester, UK
    Dear Uber, if you're going to put questionable location tracking services features into your app without an option to opt out, then don't be surprised when you're questioned, scrutinised and untrusted.
  9. d5aqoëp macrumors 6502a


    Feb 9, 2016
    This is just diverting the topic. Using maps extension is not even a question here.

    Uber removed location access option "While using the app" and kept "Always" and "Never". So that they can track you always.

    PS: I am not an idiot you Uber muppets!
  10. zohaali146 macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2016
    Don't know what's the truth though. But the idea of someone tracking you like this surely scares th hell out of me.
  11. NightFox macrumors 68020


    May 10, 2005
    Shropshire, UK
    You became trackable the minute you got a mobile phone
  12. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    That's one aspect that disappoints me. UX design used to be one of their strengths.
  13. Amacfa macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    I think the UI is great. It could be tweaked in a few places. I mean...if it bothers you that much they'res always Android
  14. Pablo90 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    To me it's quite obvious why they are tracking users for a few minutes after a ride... because many get in the car, negotiate a better price with the driver, and interrupt the official transaction on Uber.. this way Uber can track and see if people are doing this
  15. deany macrumors 68030


    Sep 16, 2012
    North Wales
    I would not use Uber based on this.
    I find it spooky Uber tracks you after the taxi has 'dropped lite'.
  16. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    People who are upset about this have clearly not been paying attention. There are so many controversies surrounding this company and some of their executives in particular, that you cannot keep track of anymore. It is a disgusting company with a poor track record on ethics. They showed years ago that their executives can tap into customer contact and location data at their pleasure: https://www.theguardian.com/technol...cutive-after-journalists-privacy-was-breached.

    Simple, stop using Uber.
  17. M2M macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2009
    Why is it optional in an app to share location only 'when using' ?
    Apples quality review should enforce all 3 options: always, when using, never.
    Or even better: the API should enforce it. Problem solved.

    I see Apple as a (small) part of the problem here.
  18. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    What? I doubt it. Where are you from that this is something that many do?
  19. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    What if an app only works correctly with the ‘always’ access? For example, an app that is used to survey a location. If the app does not work as intended without this, then developer has to use all sorts of in-app constructs to make sure that the user understands this.
  20. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    Yes because this was so awesome :D


    I certainly have software issues but it's nothing to do with the UI. Seems Uber is deflecting here. I haven't heard about other apps using the maps extension with this issue.
  21. Porco macrumors 68030


    Mar 28, 2005
    There were certainly some ridiculous examples of going too far with all the skeuomorphism in app designs, but I think iOS 7 onwards swung too far in the other direction... honestly I look at the example you posted and whilst it's silly to the point the functionality is a bit of an eccentric mess, I can't help but find it much more beautiful aesthetically... iOS 7 onwards is so sterile and basic it looks like HTML 2.0 web pages to me a lot of the time.

    More on-topic, I agree with the point that colours to differentiate aspects of location services usage is poor from an accessibility point of view. Colours plus shapes would be an improvement.
  22. Aston441 macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2014
    I still have the "while using the app" option. I'm running the latest update of Uber. Does that option disappear if I delete and reinstall the app?
  23. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000


    Oct 22, 2014
    known but velocity indeterminate
    I've disabled it altogether and it just prompts me for addresses when I use it. I had one situation since doing so that it didn't seem to properly launch and then I did as you do: turned on location services, requested the Uber, turned it back off.

    I really like Uber and feel they are a HUGE step up (that doesn't even do it justice) from the legacy taxi systems, I do hope this press makes them provide a config option for this particular aspect of their service though.
  24. Jimmy Bubbles macrumors 6502

    Jimmy Bubbles

    Jul 10, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    I wanna play the blame game too!

    Delete Uber, install Lyft; problem solved.
  25. M2M macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2009
    Apple poses all kind of restrictions to Apps. So this would just be another (reasonable) one. Personally I find it more "surprising" if a survey app continues to survey even though the user closed it (well there is no real intuitive quit - I don't think the average user understand the difference between pressing home button once and pressing home button twice to go to task switcher where you can really quit the app). In fact a survey app should rather inform the user if it continues tracking even if I close it (press the home button one) don't you think ?

    In General I prefer a survey app only to survey when I have it open - or let's say a maximum of 5 minutes after closing unless reopened by me.

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