Apple Addresses iPhone 11 Location Privacy Concern
Apple is rolling out a new update to its iOS operating system that addresses the location privacy issue on iPhone 11 devices that was first detailed here last month.
Beta versions of iOS 13.3.1 include a new setting that lets users disable the “Ultra Wideband” feature, a short-range technology that lets iPhone 11 users share files locally with other nearby phones that support this feature.
In December, KrebsOnSecurity pointed out the new iPhone 11 line queries the user’s location even when all applications and system services are individually set never to request this data.
Apple initially said the company did not see any privacy concerns and that the location tracking icon (a small, upward-facing arrow to the left of the battery icon) appears for system services that do not have a switch in the iPhone’s settings menu.
Apple later acknowledged the mysterious location requests were related to the inclusion of an Ultra Wideband chip in iPhone 11, Pro and Pro Max devices.
The company further explained that the location information indicator appears because the device periodically checks to see whether it is being used in a handful of countries for which Apple hasn’t yet received approval to deploy Ultra Wideband.
Apple also stressed it doesn’t use the UWB feature to collect user location data, and that this location checking resided “entirely on the device.” Still, it’s nice that iPhone 11 users will now have a disable the feature if they want.
Spotted by journalist Brandon Butch and published on Twitter last week, the new toggle switch to turn off UWB now exists in the “Networking & Wireless” settings in beta versions of iOS 13.3.1, under Locations Services > System Services. Beta versions are released early to developers to help iron out kinks in the software, and it’s not clear yet when 13.3.1 will be released to the general public.