Apple's latest release of the iOS for the iPad and iPhone and iPod makes some changes to the location database that caused so much uproar in the past few weeks.
The new version, 4.3.3, reduces the size of the cache of data, and also stops backing it up to iTunes, which was part of the original problem. It also deletes the cache when the location services are shut off. The new specifications appear on the update screen when the software is installed.
Apple was heavily criticized when two researchers found that the locations of local cell towers and WI-Fi hotspots were being stored on iPhones and backed up to the user's computer whenever they were synched. While the location data didn't reveal a user's precise whereabouts, it was possible to use the data to create an app that reflected over time an approximate location.
While the data wasn't able to be pulled from the phone directly, the file left on the user's computer could be, as the information was not encrypted in any way (though it wouldn't make any sense to a casual reader).
Apple is not the only phone maker that gathers this kind of data. Google does as well, via the Android operating system.
Both companies were using the location data to build local maps. In Apple's case, it was so that location-based services could work more efficiently in pointing customers to local businesses. The use for Google was less clear but CEO Mike Schmidt said at one point that the data was valuable because of its use to advertisers.