The second beta of iOS 13.3.1, released last week, includes a toggle for disabling the Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro. The move comes after it was discovered that the devices were still tracking location data even when users had turned off location services.
In early December, security researcher Brian Krebs discovered that his iPhone 11 Pro still collects location data, even when the user has set it not to.
Krebs identified the issue and reported it to Apple. Apple’s response implied that “certain system services” continue to collect location data, even when the user has selected “Never” for all individual apps and services.
Apple told him that there were no concerns and the iPhone was operating as designed. “It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings,” Apple had said.
Apple later provided more information about the situation, which explained the new iPhone models have a U1 ultra wideband chip that uses location data to make sure they’re not in restricted areas.
Apple says there are regions where ultra wideband technology is not allowed because of international regulations, so the iPhone checks the location to make sure it isn’t in one of those areas.
“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,” an Apple spokesperson said.
Apple announced later in December that it would bring a dedicated toggle in location service that would allow customers to completely turn off the feature. The new feature was spotted in the second beta of iOS 13.3.1 on Friday by Brandon Butch. The toggle switch is labeled as “Networking & Wireless” under Privacy > Locations Services > System Services.
So iOS 13.3.1 beta 2 does have a new toggle to disable Ultra Wideband. pic.twitter.com/Tswt7V5GMV
— Brandon Butch (@BrandonButch) January 17, 2020