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Scary PSA: Is Your iPhone Cheating on You?

We have all seen a few action movies where you see the one guy sneak up to the other guy’s car and stick a magnet GPS tracker underneath a wheel arch. Well that is actually just a waste of time. All he needed to do was grab the other guy’s iPhone for a few minutes.

Now this could be used if you think your significant other has been straying too. Most people generally keep their phones on them. So if you want a nicely mapped out view of where your significant other’s iPhone has been just grab it and open up Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations.

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I reinstalled my iPhone OS a few days ago so my location history is quite short. It just shows where I have been around Cape Town and it shows my trip I took to Simon’s Town. Where it gets a little scary is when you open those items up.

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If I open up the “Cape Town” option it has an even more detailed breakdown. It shows that I went to the Mount Nelson Hotel, Green Market Square, Home and Work. It also shows how many times I have visited these places recently. If your significant other is visiting someone behind your back, it will no doubt show up here!

Now, lets crank up the creepy another notch.

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I was at High Tea at the Month Nelson from 20 past 1 until just after 3. Yes, to the minute accuracy. If my girlfriend hadn’t been by my side, I would have had a lot of explaining to do.

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I also had a very quick breakfast stop whilst waiting for a train.

So, how accurate are the locations? Well from my experience, they are very accurate.

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As you can see from this example, I arrived in Simon’s Town by train, went to see the penguins at Boulders Beach and stopped somewhere in town. The stop in town was in fact my lunch stop. So looking at these recent locations on my phone doesn’t just reveal that I went to Simon’s Town, it reveals WHERE in Simon’s Town I went.

Why is your phone collecting this data? Ever noticed the line in your notification centre that says “It’ll take you about 17 minutes to get to work” or to some other place? Well your iPhone collects this data and then looks for patterns in it. Before I reinstalled iOS, my phone had picked up a good few insights into my life. It told me how long it would take me to get to my soccer games on Wednesday evenings and even how long it would take me to get to a breakfast spot I enjoy on Saturday mornings.

Still feeling violated? Well maybe you should keep it in your pants… Actually there is very little to worry about with regards to your iPhone collecting this data. This information is stored locally on your phone. That is how mine disappeared when I wiped my phone. Apple is pretty big on the privacy front so that is why all of this trend matching is done locally on your device. And you can always opt out by turning that toggle off.

If you have an Android device, you might not be so lucky. Google likes things stored on their side. You can click here and sign in with your Google account and see where your Android device has been for the past month. There are ways of opting out but as I don’t have an Android device, I’m not familiar with them.

So if the convenience of location based notifications and reminders is out weighed by the chance of your wife finding out where where you spend your free time, I’d advise opting out of this location tracking.

If you suspect your partner is being less than honest, happy stalking.

1 Comment

  1. Dave from Cape Town

    18th June 2015 at 11:24

    This shit is real. My wife did this on my iPhone and she found out that I was fucking trannies in Goodwood and Table View. Believe it, because it’s true.

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