iPhone is always using location data, and ultra wideband technology is to blame

Phil Schiller iPhone 11 keynote
Phil Schiller iPhone 11 keynote (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has responded to location privacy concerns raised by security researchers.
  • The ultra wideband technology found in the iPhone 11 is apparently the culprit.
  • Apple will be adding a feature to turn it off in the coming future.

Earlier this week, security reporter Brian Krebs had raised privacy concerns with Apple over location sharing with the iPhone 11. According to Krebs, the phone appeared to be sharing location data even when location services, a setting in the Settings app on the iPhone, was turned off. Reported by TechChunch, Apple has responded saying the behavior is actually expected and for a particular reason.

According to Apple, the new ultra wideband technology built into the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max is to blame for the data sharing, but they assure that this is not in any way a breach of privacy. The company claims that, because ultra wideband is required to be turned off in certain locations around the world, that the company must ascertain the location of an iPhone in order to comply with international regulations.

"Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and is subject to international regulatory requirements that require it to be turned off in certain locations...iOS uses Location Services to help determine if an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable ultra wideband and comply with regulations."

Apple's spokesperson went further to say that this location data is acquired and used entirely on-device, meaning that Apple nor anyone else is collecting this location information.

"The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not collecting user location data."

In response to the situation, Apple has said that it plans to add a new toggle button to turn ultra wideband on or off and expects the feature to be available in an upcoming version of iOS.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.