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Apple says iPhone isn't tracking you, just the cell towers it's using. What?

Apple claims the iPhone is not tracking or logging your location, but rather the location of nearby mobile transmission towers. And that's different how?

Apple has at last responded to allegations it has been capturing iPhone location data without users' consent. In a statement released today, the company said the iPhone is not tracking or logging your location, but rather the location of nearby mobile transmission towers. Wait. What?

"The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone," the company revealed, "but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone's location, which can be more than one hundred miles away from the iPhone."

You might say Crave isn't fully convinced by Apple's attempt at reassurance. Even if the company isn't recording a user's specific location, it's still recording the location of things that are close to the iPhone. Apple might as well have said, "We're not tracking you, we're merely tracking your shadow. Stop being so paranoid, jeez."

The company claims it's necessary to record the location of cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots in order to help the iPhone calculate its own location quickly and accurately when requested to do so by the user. Using this technique (rather than relying exclusively on GPS data) reduces the time taken to calculate your location from several minutes to mere seconds, says Apple.

"The location calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple," the company added.

In other words, your iPhone constantly feeds location information back to an Apple server, before downloading a subset of other users' nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots in order to help it more accurately calculate its own location when asked to do so.

Apple also addressed the issue of iPhones storing location data -- apparently indefinitely -- and continually updating their Wi-Fi and cell tower data even when the iPhone's location services are disabled. The company revealed this was a bug that would be fixed in a future software update. No more than a week's worth of Wi-Fi and cell tower data will be stored following the fix.

Are you happy with this explanation? Do you have any concerns about why your location, or at least the location of things close to your location, is being harvested? Let us know in the comments section.

You can read Apple's full statement here.