iPhone location data

April 30th, 2011 by nils

Most of you have probably read about the fact that the iPhone stores location related information in a local file. The file is transferred to the computer every time the iPhone is connected and synced via iTunes. If you’re interested in visualizing the data, there is an application called iPhone tracker available at http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker. The authors of the software, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, didn’t only decide to open source their work, but also wrote up quite a bit of documentation about the data and how to access it. They promise that “none of your data ever leaves your machine” but go on to “recommend inspecting the source code if you’re a developer, or even just relying on the directions that allow you to inspect the data using standard database tools.”

So I thought hey, I’m a developer, so let’s see what I can do with those directions and a bit of java code… I documented the result in the little video below and also created a small google code project at http://code.google.com/p/java-location-data-converter. Right now it is just a JUnit test that generates a CSV file which you can then use to e.g. visualize the data with OpenHeatMap (http://www.openheatmap.com). If you have an iPhone and are curious to inspect your location data, check out the the directions to inspect the data.

And if you’re also a java developer, check out my code as a starting point.

Have fun!

iPhone location data visualized from Nils Preusker on Vimeo.

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