PC Magazine did a
very rigorous test involving three people driving to the same stops, but using three different navigation systems: Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps. Since it came out in the fall of 2012, Apple Maps has been the app everyone loves to hate, because it supposedly led people into lakes and off roads. Waze is one of those apps with a crazy core following: it’s crowd sourced and people can report police, hazards, traffic, etc. Google Maps, of course, was welcomed back to iOS with open arms at the end of 2012.
Apple Maps icon
So in this test, the guy using Apple Maps arrived at the destination first, followed by Google Maps, followed by Waze. Which wouldn’t be significant, except for the fact that apparently everyone expected Apple Maps to send the guy into San Francisco Bay.
From PC Magazine, via iMore
Unlike the iPhone 4, a prototype of which an Apple engineer lost at a bar and ended up in the hands of the media, the iPhone 5 has yet to be seen at all. But everyone has faith that Apple will deliver, even though Steve Jobs has been on medical leave all year. This, according to a survey by the online store PriceGrabber:
- 35% of their customers want the iPhone 5
- 2.5% will get it in the first week
- The features people are wishing for in the new iPhone: better battery life, lower price, 4G support, bigger screen and better camera
- Which smartphone OS do they like? iOS by a wide margin, with 48% of the vote.
- Which physical phone do they want as a gift? Probably because they couldn’t think of another phone, 69% of the people picked the iPhone 5. The Motorola Droid Bionic came in second, with a whopping 7%.
No word on what the other 20% of the population voted for as their favorite mobile OS, but no doubt it was webOS.
Relatedly, word came out recently that some scientists figured out that as long as 10% of the population hold an unshakable belief (read, they’re zealots), that belief will spread like wildfire and consume most of the population. Assuming a third of the 35% of Apple fanbois are zealots, that means that pretty soon we’ll all be sporting iPhones. Although, the researchers’ models didn’t include two conflicting opinions, so maybe the Android crowd will keep Apple in check.
From PR NewsWire, via Wired and Slashdot
David Pogue, the famed technology reviewer for The New York Times has a pretty funny video which starts out making fun of how the new HP Touchpad just copied the iPad, then goes on about their differences.
From NY Times, via PreCentral
The New York Times is reporting that at least on the iPhone side, the issue of the smartphone tracking itself is being addressed by Apple and will be fixed in the next iOS release. Apparently, the locations the iPhone was tracking were actually not of the phone itself, but rather Wi-Fi networks it comes in contact with; which is a bit of lip service, because it’s like saying you’re not writing down the location of the apples in a tree, just the tree itself. The reason it does this is apparently benevolent: to make geolocation easier. Getting your location via GPS can take a couple of minutes and indoors, especially windowless indoors, it just won’t work. Because of that, Apple keeps an iPhone-generated central database of the locations of all cell towers and Wi-Fi networks, and then your particular iPhone uses that database to approximate your location much faster — in a few seconds as opposed to minutes. Oh but wait, it also uses the data to generate a future traffic info service, so it’s not all benevolent.
But, it’s anonymous at least. And they’re blaming that file that’s left on your phone and computer out in the open, on a bug. Therefore, in the next iOS release that file won’t store the location data forever, just for the past 7 days. And it’ll be encrypted.
So what’s the net result of all this? The location file is going to be less ominous and more guarded, but the iPhone will still phone home to Apple as it pleases. You can bet the encryption on that file will be broken pretty quickly though, so all this really does is put a 7-day limit on how fast the Gestapo has to get their hands on your phone.
From The New York Times
Probably much to Apple’s dismay, this story just won’t die. First, someone figured out that iPhones store where they’ve been. Then, someone else figured out that Android phones do the same. Then others figured out that both phones send their data to Apple and Google, respectively. Now, CNET has a story saying all of that has been an open secret among computer forensics specialists for some time and that various law enforcement organizations, from local police to federal agencies, have been making use of that data for quite some time.
Legally, there is still no consensus on whether this practice is allowed without a warrant. At the border however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (the nation’s most liberal) has approved the copying of all data on any electronic device by law enforcement, even if there’s no reason for it. And the CNET article lists at least three companies that are happy to provide any agency with software that will easily mine that location data off your phone, and into the Gestapo’s hands.
Realistically though, smartphones are like crack. News could come out tomorrow saying they’re making everyone sterile, and it wouldn’t hurt their sales a bit. I mean, what are the chances you’ll even want kids anyway? Or get arrested? Really low. But the chances that you’ll be on Facebook in five minutes while listening to Pandora and gearing up for Angry Birds are like super high.
From CNET via Slashdot
The Wall Street Journal is fanning the flames of this week’s developments that both the iPhone and Android phones store the locations of where they’ve been on the phone. Now, WSJ has found out that both of them also separately send their location data to Apple and Google, respectively. Android phones send location data to Google several times an hour, and iPhones send it to Apple about once every 12 hours. They both also transmit info on nearby Wi-Fi networks.
Why do they do this? WSJ says “as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s locations via their cellphones.” Having that kind of location data is worth a lot of money, because they can get all kinds of statistics about people’s behaviors, not to mention traffic data, and accurate maps of Wi-Fi networks.
It’s like Google and Apple are spy factories, and their spies are disguised as really neat toys. “Wanna play with this really cool toy? Yeah, you do. We’ll just be standing over here, creeping over your shoulder — don’t mind us.”
From The Wall Street Journal via NPR
O’Reilly Radar has a story about how researchers figured out that every iPhone and iPad running iOS 4 keeps a log of everywhere they’ve been. The log file is open for anyone to see and it gets copied to every computer they sync with. The good news is that the coordinates are not very accurate, and Apple doesn’t seem to be using the data yet — it’s just a file on the iOS device and computers with which it syncs. However, both those things could change in the future.
The researchers think that the coordinates are determined by cell tower triangulation, rather than GPS, but they’re not sure what triggers their storage, as the timestamps for the coordinates are erratic and vary in frequency quite a bit. And if you want to see where your iPhone’s been, they set up a website with a tool that will do just that: http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/
Finally, it seems that all of this is legally kosher vis-à-vis the agreement they force everyone to agree to before using iTunes:
“Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services. For example, we may share geographic location with application providers when you opt in to their location services.”
From O’Reilly Radar via The Guardian and Slashdot