Apple’s iOS 7.1 will restore background location tracking, after developer sends letter to Tim Cook

“Apple is restoring a feature in its upcoming version of iOS that had plagued makers of geolocation apps,” Richard Byrne Reilly reports for VentureBeat.

“The feature allows the apps to continue tracking users’ locations in the background, even if the app is switched off. Apple’s current version, 1.7 [sic], disconnects geolocation features when users kill a running application in the Switcher,” Reilly reports. “And it appears to be the result of a letter sent by an app maker to Apple chief executive Tim Cook.”

“Life360 chief executive and co-founder Chris Hulls recently sent Cook what he called a ‘Hail Mary’ letter diplomatically complaining that Apple’s iOS 7 wouldn’t allow users to successfully run his company’s geolocation safety app,” Reilly reports. “Hulls was floored by what happened next. ‘I guess he was listening,’ Hulls told VentureBeat, noting the letter was sent to Cook February 1. ‘They fixed it.'”

Much more, including the letter, in the full article here.

32 Comments

      1. Apple != Google

        So I don’t care what Google does or does not do.

        Apple should not allow any background tracking without explicit permission of the user. The option must be enabled by the user (and not the app).

        Like I said, hopefully someone sues Apple. Any lawyer willing to do it could make a lot of money.

        1. I happen to agree. I’m not in favor a suing to make a lot of money, but to enforce an ideal it is often the correct course of action. This is a bad move on Apple’s part, especially as it tries to live above Google’s failed concept of “do no evil”. Put three options into the user permission screen: 1) don’t allow, 2) allow when app is running, or 3) allow always.

      2. not a programmer, but got a good chuckle, thanks !-)

        i did get the “same as” vs. “equals” for the sellUserData line, (much more restrictive in the former)

        i dont think apple did the change without thought, and if someone adds an app and activates location tracking without thought, well…….

        there are plenty of facebook users that FAIL at taking care of themselves, so….

    1. The apps do ask permission, I assume it will still show up under system preferences as to what has accessed your location, and you will still be able to revoke that permission.

  1. I was of the impression that Cook was honest when he claimed that he cared about user’s experience. Apparently by pulling this S#lt for the benefit of nosy developers, he things iOS users will benefit. Why can’t he just allow iOS users ultimate control of their devices? For how much the American right-wing extremists bemoan their loss of freedom to big bad government, they don’t hardly utter a wimper when Apple does it. hypocrisy?

      1. Perhaps I did not write clearly. Sometimes people want to turn OFF tracking when the app is killed. Why is that not an option? Apple merely offers a control panel to allow or disallow background location tracking. Not granular enough.

        There are practical applications to this besides the privacy angle: if you don’t need background processes eating up battery, then you want to turn it all off. But when you do need that function, who wants to go to a control panel before accessing each application? PITA.

          1. okay, let’s try this all over again:

            Apple allows you 2 choices for each app: geo tracking on or off.

            I propose a 3rd setting, so the user can choose from the following settings for each app:
            1) geo tracking always off
            2) geo tracking on only when app is active
            3) geo tracking always on, even when app is in background

            There is no reason Apple can’t offer the user this level of control.

            More clear now?

  2. Apple’s iOS 7 will restore background location tracking after Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl.

    “I guess they were watching it. They fixed it”.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

  3. What everyone here has missed or didn’t read in the article is that background tracking was always active in iOS 6 and iOS 5. If they are simply restoring that feature then it will be able to be deactivated just like it was then. Also the developer makes an app that allows parents to track their children which obviously is beneficial only when it’s on all the time. Tim C. Recognized that was an omission and it’s being added back simple as that.

    1. How is giving an iPhone to your kids keeping them safe? Full grown adults are ripped off on a daily basis. All this can do is let you locate where the crime occurred.

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