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Apple is Using Your iPhone to Track You

On April 20, 2011, startling news reports blanketed media outlets around the world saying that Apple was tracking users of its mobile devices without their knowledge. The rumor stemmed from an original report by tech researchers Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan, posted at Warden's Github.com site (called iPhone Tracker).

Warden and Allan explained that they'd found a hidden file in Apple iOS following its iOS 4 update in June 2010. They also reported that they couldn't find any similar tracking codes in the Android mobile OS. The news cycle continued for days without an official response from Apple, leading to the rumor going viral across the Internet and a legal inquiry from the U.S. Congress asking Apple to explain its plans and answer questions about it [sources: Arthur, Keizer].

A week later, on April 27, Apple finally released a statement to address these claims. In the statement, Apple denied it was tracking its users and stated that the data collected was anonymous, encrypted information about cellular towers and WiFi hot spots that the iPhone detects. Apple explained that it was using the data to develop a crowd-sourced database "with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years" [source: Apple].

Despite the statement, some critics were still unconvinced. Apple's statement did not explain why it concealed the presence of this hidden file, which stored the collected location data unencrypted on the iOS file system. It also described certain actions as bugs, including continued collection of location data even with Location Services turned off. Apple promised fixes to these bugs in the "next major iOS software release," meaning iOS 5, which was released later the same year [source: Keizer].

For our final myth, let's take on one of the big reasons many people give for choosing a Mac over a Windows PC.

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