Fire up your iPhoneTracker and zoom in on southern Nevada. Remember that fun trip?
I don’t either. Neither does my coworker, who apparently took the exact same trip around the same time, late June. My bet is that your iPhone has these same points. Did we all drink that much? Was there a convention of amnesiac iPhone users?
|Data from my iPhone||Data from @bp1222’s iPhone|
This is what concerns me about the idea that these data points are your location. If forensics experts are supposedly using this file to pinpoint suspects’ locations and help prosecute them for crimes, shouldn’t we be SURE that what’s in these tables are really location data and not cell phone tower location?1
Here are the data points from my phone, from Vegas:
The “Horizontal Accuracy” field is what the iPhone uses to give the radius of confidence for a point on a map. It is in meters. When you see the little blue dot with a circle around it in Maps, that’s the Horizontal Accuracy. The Timestamp is in seconds since January 1st, 2001.
Why would there be so many points in there with a relatively high accuracy, all registered at the exact same time? If my theory that the data points are cell phone towers is correct, then maybe it gets these records from the network? Maybe some bug with AT&T sent out the approximate location of cell towers in Las Vegas to all our iPhones and they all diligently cached them away? I am going to do some more digging but this certainly is getting interesting…
1. I have frequently been saying “cell tower” location. This terminology is anachronistic, usually what your phone is communicating with is not a “tower” but a wireless network node on the side of some building, more akin to the WiFi base station in your house.