Apple’s iPhone 11 series, launched late last year, has caused some controversy over location tracking, but it looks set to be resolved in the near future. The company is testing a feature that lets users turn off location tracking completely. Shortly after the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro were launched, users found that the phones regularly tracked their location, even after they turned off location services for all apps on their phones.
The latest iOS 13.3.1 beta adds a switch to the system settings to turn off the Ultra Wideband feature.
YouTube creator and journalist Brandon Butch posted a screenshot of the switch on Twitter:
The latest generation of iPhones has an ultra-wideband chip built in, further enhancing the phone’s positioning capabilities and accurately sensing the location of other phones around them. For example, when you use AirDrop, with the spatial awareness that the chip brings, pointing your iPhone at someone else’s iPhone prioritizes, allowing you to share files faster.
Even if all app location requests are closed, the location icon will still appear on the new iPhone status bar, which was supposed to be a system vulnerability until security reporter Brian Krebs investigated it last December. According to Apple, the ultra-wideband chip is not available in any country, so the iPhone 11 uses a location service to determine if it can be enabled.
Apple also explained that location tracking is done entirely on the device and does not upload data, so in theory it’s hard to crack. But for those who really value privacy, that may not be enough. It is not yet known when Apple plans to add an ultra-wide-band off switch to the iPhone 11 series through a software update, but if it is currently in beta, it should be available soon.