Tag Archives: smartphones - Page 2

Apple To Address The iPhone Tracking Issue

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

Smartphone Tracking Is Not News To Police

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

Both iPhones And Androids Also Phone Home

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

Smartphone Etiquette

The New York Times has a list of “10 Rules to Make Sure Smartphones Don’t Make Us Stupid“, while still acknowledging the fact that it’s hard to ignore that buzzing phone, since it holds the promise of unimagined pleasure:

  1. Glance at incoming texts, but only write back to ones that are shockingly important. And excuse yourself to do so.
  2. Except for the aforementioned texts, keep your phone holstered when you’re at eating with someone. However, if the meal goes for an insufferable amount of time (i.e.., over an hour) then suggest a phone break to get a fix from the digital crack machine.
  3. Only use instant messaging for instant stuff. If it’s all the same if the answer comes back 3 hours later, email it.
  4. If you’re in an elevator, use your smartphone.
  5. No exception is being made to rule #2 just because you mention your companion in whatever you’re doing (tweet, check-in, etc). You can wait to secure your foursquare mayorship until an appropriate time.
  6. No one wants to see tweets on LinkedIn, or foursquare checkins on Facebook: keep your social media tools separate.
  7. Use the “reply-all” button as an exception, not as a rule.
  8. Don’t invite your friends to Internet groups that flood their inbox with stuff they don’t care about, but which they’ll join anyway because it’s less annoying than the awkward “sorry, that sounds like a really dumb group” response.
  9. Have private conversations in private, not in Facebook comments.
  10. Obvious self-promotion on social media sites is annoying.

By my count, while they’re all worthwhile guidelines, only four and a half of them are smartphone-specific (rule #6 is the bastard). So maybe rename it “A Guide to Digital Manners”, eh New York Times?

Via Lifehacker