Well, well, well. After failing to address a KrebsOnSecurity report that a location icon appeared in the status bar of an iPhone 11 even after all individual location and service settings have been disabled—giving the appearance that the device was sharing location data without a user’s consent—Apple has finally surfaced with an explanation.
Apple told TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker in a statement that its latest iPhones come standard with ultra-wideband technology that “is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations.” According to the company, “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra-wideband and comply with regulations.”
But Apple added that this compliance check is done on the device itself and the company is not tracking users’ locations when they have Location Services disabled.
Still, TechCrunch reported that will offer a toggle tool in a future iOS update. Unsurprisingly, this is also how the company also responded to the last incident over confusion about location tracking and ostensibly offline settings.
Confusion around the issue can be attributed to the fact that Apple is notoriously bad at communicating or responding to any potential issues with its products. But the company’s response to Brian Krebs didn’t do Apple any favours. The company said that the arrow icon “appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings” but did not explain what those system services were.
More to that point, Apple again failed to respond to a request for comment when Gizmodo contacted the company on Thursday (following multiple requests for comment on Wednesday). As Whittaker rightly noted, Apple could have saved itself the trouble if it had more adequately addressed the confusion head-on from the get-go.
But then again, that’s asking an awful lot of Apple.