Ten months into the life of the iPhone 4, Apple has decided that it’s time to release the fabled white version as well as answering questions relating to the location tracking controversy that erupted last week.
Apple’s iPhone 4 has been a phenomenal success. Last week Apple announced that in the three months to the end of March, 18.6 million of the iOS handsets were sold. However, a couple of days later researchers from Sweden discovered a secret file they claimed was storing users’ locations without their consent. While Apple initially failed to comment officially on the issue, today it has decided to give a full explanation. In question and answer format, Apple firstly denies any wrongdoing. Posing the question: “Why is Apple tracking the location of my iPhone?” the Cupertino company replies: “Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.” It goes on to say users were confused because of the complex technical nature of the issue as a result of a failure by Apple and others to provide “enough education” about this new technology.
Apple claims that it is not tracking the users location, rather it is “maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” This Apple says is to reduce the time it would take to ascertain your current location compared to the phone just using GPS satellite data. Apple says it cannot locate a particular iPhone using this data as the cache files are sent to them in “an anonymous and encrypted form.” Apple confirmed that a software update will be coming in the next few weeks which will fix a number of bugs including the fact that even when Location Services is turned off the iPhone still collects data. The update will also mean that only one week’s worth of data will be collected rather than a year’s worth as currently happens.
In a side note to the Q&A, Apple says it "is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database," and that it's hoping to provide iPhone users with an "improved traffic service in the next couple of years." This would suggest a move away from Google Maps in the near future and toward s a proprietary iMap app.
Despite all the privacy conerns, Apple has decided that there is a market for a white version of the iPhone 4 and will release it around the globe from tomorrow. So what’s new besides the different colour? Well, in short, nothing. The white iPhone 4 is exactly the same as the black version and will be priced similarly when it goes on sale tomorrow on the Apple website.