Steve Jobs has denied that Apple was tracking the location of iPhone users.
Researchers last week found that iPhones running iOS 4 were storing coordinates of locations visited by their users. It was believed that these locations were triangulated from mobile phone towers.
The researchers found that a file within iOS contained longitude and latitude co-ordinates alongside a time stamp, which was also copied to the user's computer. Anyone gaining access to the file could compile a detailed record of the user's whereabouts, the researchers claimed.
However, in an emailed reply to a concerned Apple customer, CEO Steve Jobs has dismissed allegations that the company is tracking its own customers.
"Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone?" the customer asked Steve Jobs, according to a report on MacRumours.com. "It's kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid [Motorola's Android handset]. They don't track me."
Jobs reportedly retorted: "Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false."
It's emerged that Apple's phones aren't the only handsets collecting user location data.
Android devices stored details of the last 50 mobile masts and last 200 Wi-Fi hotspots the phone has interacted with. However, that file isn't as easily accessible as the iPhone's, nor does it collect data for as long a period, with the iPhone reportedly harvesting users' locations for up to a year. As with Apple, it's not clear whether the data is being sent back to Google.
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 handsets do, however, send a file containing users' location data back to base, according to a report on CNET.
The "miniature data dump" includes a unique device ID, details of Wi-Fi networks, and the phone's latitude and longitude, which is gleaned from the built-in GPS receiver. Microsoft claims it doesn't store location data on the device itself.