iPhone geolocation tracking

// Published 23 April, 2011 by Andrew Lamb

I can’t be the only person who greeted the news that my iPhone had been tracking geolocation data for the past two years with enthusiasm rather than outrage. Apple’s dodgy data storage practices aside, I’m suddenly able to plot my movements, with minimal effort, in a way similar to the guys over at The Quantified Self or the beautiful visualizations in Nicholas Felton’s annual reports.

iPhone geolcation map

The map above was created with iPhone Tracker, an open-source program available here. There are a few anomalies – for example two trips to the north-west I know I made are missing, and I appear to have visited Edinburgh without remembering. However, plotting my movement over the past two years in this way has given me the eerie sense of insight you get when familiar information is represented in an unfamiliar, bird’s-eye view.

(I got a similar feeling when I plotted the ‘modularity’ of my Facebook friends and saw them resolve into cliques associated with workplaces, uni, hometown etc.) As more of our lives are lived online and our data exhaust increases, this kind of insight is going to get more frequent for all of us.

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