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How to: Find Stored iPhone Locations on your Computer

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nphonetrack iPhone appCUPERTINO, USA – The latest scandal to hit Apple is that its champion smartphone, the iPhone 4 stores users’ location history.

While this was found by independent security experts, it is now possible for users themselves to visualize their own location history using the guide below.

Depending on your choice of desktop operating systems, there are a number of ways in which you can locate the database file and plot your location.

Mac OS

Hackers Peter Warden and Alasdair Allen who found out the unencrypted database “consolidated.db” have come up with an application that gives a rough idea of your location history on a week-to-week basis. Download the zip file located at this link. Now unzip and run the app. The application plays an animation that shows your location history from week-to-week and ends with the location history points plotted on a map. To keep user privacy, the app has been artificially limited to stick to grid points and does not show daily location history.

If, however, you wish to obtain the original database that contains second-by-second data logs, there is a more complex procedure available which is detailed below.

Prerequisites:

1. The Python runtime must be installed on your Mac to allow for the procedure. To test whether you have it installed, simply type python in the terminal window. If a pop up shows up with the string : Python 2.6.1 ; then you can proceed else download the latest runtime from the official website.

2. You will also require the iphonels.py python run time file. This can be downloaded from here.

Procedure

1. Before you can obtain the location database, you will have to locate your most recent iPhone backup. This backup file is saved here : ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

To check whether this is the backup file for your iPhone, open the Info.plist file in your favorite text editor. Check the device name mentioned in the file. It should be named the same as your iPhone. If it is not , then check some of the other folders in the directory.

2. Now open this folder using the Terminal. Type the following command into the terminal window to access the folder.

Command: cd “/Users/username/library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/foldername

Here the folder-name must be replaced by the name of the folder which contains your iPhone backup.

3. Now run the python script by typing the following command into the terminal:

python ~/Desktop/iphonels.py

4. Once the text stops flowing down the screen, you will be able to find the location file with the following command

python ~/Desktop/iphonels.py | grep “consolidated”

The file which is identified is essentially an SQLite Database. Opening the database gives you the latitude and longitudes along with the timestamps from your iPhone which you can then plot out on a map.

Windows

Windows users have it a bit easy to obtain the database file in various file formats. The nphonetrack app lets you obtain the iPhone location file database in KML format to export to Google Earth and also as a CSV file to import into a spreadsheet.

The application requires users to have the .NET 3.5 framework installed on the computer after which it is simply a matter of unzipping and running the application. It is important to note that the application like the original, will quantize the location within a 3km grid to protect the privacy of users.

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By , International Correspondent on May 2nd, 2011 GMT +2

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