iPhones Tracking questions to Steve Jobs from US Senator Al Franken

Thursday, 21 April, 2011

US Senator Al Franken asks the following questions in an letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs,

1. Why does Apple collect and compile this location data? Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?

2. Does Apple collect and compile this location data for laptops?

3. How is this data generated? (GPS, cell tower triangulation, WiFi triangulation, etc.)

4. How frequently is a user’s location recorded? What triggers the creation of a record of someone’s location?

5. How precise is this location data? Can it track a user’s location to 50 meters, 100 meters, etc.?

6. Why is this data not encrypted? What steps will Apple take to encrypt this data?

7. Why were Apple consumers never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?

8. Does Apple believe that this conduct is permissible under the terms of its privacy policy? See Apple Privacy Policy at “Location-Based Services” (accessed on April 20, 2011), available at http://www.apple.com/privacy

9. To whom, if anyone, including Apple, has this data been disclosed? When and why were these disclosures made?

[HT Information Week “iPhone Tracking Only Tip Of Security Iceberg”]


iPhone Tracking Discussion – iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go in secret file

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

iPhone Tracking Discussion

Have a read of “Researchers raise privacy concerns over location tracking in Apple’s iOS 4” for more info. See also: an earlier article here, CNet “Your iPhone’s watching you. Should you care? (FAQ)“.


Worth Reading: iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go in secret file, Terrorism alert less colourful, Sheen’s court, Filmmakers Opposing Premium VOD

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

* Guardian, “iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go – Privacy fears raised as researchers reveal file on iPhone that stores location coordinates and timestamps of owner’s movements” Here is an excerpt (emphasis added),

“”Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you’ve been,” said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

Only the iPhone records the user’s location in this way, say Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file and are presenting their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “Alasdair has looked for similar tracking code in [Google’s] Android phones and couldn’t find any,” said Warden. “We haven’t come across any instances of other phone manufacturers doing this.

Simon Davies, director of the pressure group Privacy International, said: “This is a worrying discovery. Location is one of the most sensitive elements in anyone’s life – just think where people go in the evening. The existence of that data creates a real threat to privacy. The absence of notice to users or any control option can only stem from an ignorance about privacy at the design stage.” […]

The iPhone system, by contrast, appears to record the data whether or not the user agrees. Apple declined to comment on why the file is created or whether it can be disabled. Read the rest of this entry »


iPad app review: FlyingWord’s “Treasure Island”

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 1

The following is a review of the pre-release version of FlyingWord Treasure Island iPad app. And I will post my video interview with Joe Weber, CEO and co-founder of FlyingWord, later.

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Apple iPad app: “Treasure Island” by FlyingWord based on the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Price: $7.99

Launch date: Nov 13, 2010

Promotional clip of FlyingWord’s Treasure Island

Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Pros

– Lively and very engaging narration of the original full-length classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. (beautifully narrated for about 7 hours)

– Excellent music and sound effects at the right places.

– Historical original Treasure Island illustrations by N. C. Wyeth and Walter Paget.

– Nicely rendered 2D illustrations into “3D projections”, camera angle controllable by readers. [Note: the 3D here is not real Avatar 3D, but closer to what Ken Burns does with his “layers” of photos in a scene.]

– Some of the pages have objects for readers to play with. For sure to check out the cannon. (These objects have “physics engines” behind them to allow users to move them around.)

Cons

– The initial version of the app has a few bugs that I’ve reported to FlyingWord.

-The app has problems waking up from “sleep” or “auto-lock” modes. Narration fails to restart gracefully. In a few instances, waking up after sleep actually tripped the narration and it got stuck in repeating a word/sound.

– If the reader flip to a page where part of the text in the paragraph is in the previous page, the narration will read from the text in the previous page. This result can be very confusing for the readers as they may not know this is the “expected behaviour”. To me, readers may expect when flipping to a new page, the narration will match the text she/he reads on the page.

– Many of the objects are a bit too small and difficult to control.
+ e.g. in the breakfast scene (bottle is ok, but the egg, plate, and sword are difficult to manipulate)
+ in the scene with the apple barrel, the barrel can be easily moved but the apples are not controllable even though the readers will likely spend time to try to move it. It may be more enjoyable if the apples are made bigger and controllable by readers like the barrel.

– This one is technical. Currently, the space outside of the edges of the 2D to 3D projections are blank (set to black space). I think it will look nicer and gives a more immersive experience if the whole background are filled and readers won’t see black space around the edges of the original 2D frames.

Comments:

As discussed in the Pros section, the narration is lively and very engaging and I really love it. At the same time, the app may have been a bit ambitious in using the full-length original Treasure Island in its launch version. The good news is that an abridged free update will be released in a few weeks after the initial launch. To me, the abridged version with shorter audio (~1.5 hour long) and text will be a nicer fit for kids who will appreciate the physics engines games and 2D-to-3D effects more.

To write this review, I also found and checked out a LibriVox free audio book version of Treasure Island on the app store and it has the original text and the audio is reasonably good but definitely not as exciting/engaging as FlyingWord‘s version.

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 2

Coming Soon

FlyingWord‘s next book is ‘Twas the night before Christmas (tentative price: about $4.99).


Bad iPhone Top Ten – David Letterman

Thursday, 15 July, 2010

iPhone 4 duct taped - pix 1

iPhone 4 duct taped - pix 2

iPhone 4 is not even available in Calgary/Canada yet and it has reached comedian David Letterman’s Top Ten list as a joke (see video). Apple announced on Wednesday they will have a press conference on Friday to talk about the iPhone 4 and today even a US Senator has decided to tell Apple to offer a free antenna fix.

What hurt the most is probably the jokes and damage on Apple’s brand. No brands/lovemarks are invincible.


Apple iPhone 4 “Love” Letter?

Friday, 2 July, 2010

July 15 Updates: “It’s Time Apple Fixed the iPhone 4 Antenna Problem” Wired News
Apple Engineer Said to Tell Jobs IPhone Antenna Might Cut Calls” Bloomberg
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Can this be from Apple, a brand people supposed to “Love”? [HT FP “Apple solution to iPhone signal problem fails to satisfy”] “”Apple likes to promote its products as “magical,” which might be a more accurate description than the company ever intended. The iPhone 4 is doing a very good job of making Apple’s once-sterling reputation disappear.””

Following is Apple’s letter Regarding iPhone 4. Looks like Apple didn’t learn much from the Intel Pentium FDIV bug lesson and still think they can PR the problem away. Apple’s recent behaviours are slowly damaging its status as a Lovemark in my mind.

July 2, 2010

Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4

Dear iPhone 4 Users,

Read the rest of this entry »


iPhone 4 dilemma – iPhone 4 would have been great for WIND Mobile

Monday, 7 June, 2010

The iPhone 4 has just been announced (see coverage via engadget live blog) today and it looks stunning and packs some cool features. (I will write about WIND Mobile & iPhone 4 later in this post.) Love many of the cool features (e.g. the glass, steel bands as antennas, gyro), in particular, FaceTime (limited to Wi-Fi) and HD Video Recording & publishing. The dilemma to me is that both  FaceTime and HD Video, when they are used over the 3G network, will consume a ton of bandwidth. First, this can be really costly under fixed data plans. Apple has disabled the data hungry FaceTime over 3G and make it to work only Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi because I suspect heavy data usage can quickly degrade the carriers’ networks. Imagine a large number of users using their iPhones 4 to FaceTime at special events or tourists hot spots!

To me, it sucks that Apple has decided to make iPhone 4 NOT work for the AWS 1700 MHz frequency band, a band that is used by WIND Mobile in Canada (see tech spec). To me, iPhone 4 would have been great for WIND‘s “unlimited” data plan (if you exceed 5GB per month, they may reduce your speed if the network is congested) which I won’t have to worry about the data charges.

Check out this CBS News report,

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P.S. Now, is there any good reason why FaceTime should only work between iPhone 4s? Why not iPhone 4s and any Macs (or PCs)?

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June 8, 2010 Update: Jeff made a good case in “AT&T’s cynical act“,

“And now it’s AT&T that turns the clock back on. Tick. Just as mobile is about to explode with new devices and new uses for us all to be ubiquitously and constantly connected doing all kinds of new things and creating new value along the way, AT&T says it wants nothing to do with that explosion (because it would have to work harder and invest more to do better). So it makes a business strategy out of imprisoning Apple fanboys as long as it can and making them use its service less. Tock.

AT&T also tries to push us off its network both with its pricing and with the promise of wi-fi. Its press release even makes it sound like an AT&T service that we can use unlimited wi-fi in our home! Thank you, AT&T.

Let’s note that AT&T’s action in relation to the iPad is nothing short of bait-and-switch as it was sold as using the magic of unlimited data with plenty of data-rich applications and now the price of that gadget only soars if you actually use it as it was designed: to consume media constantly.

I would hope that Apple is chagrinned about the door to which it has delivered its customers. But Apple sniffed the shark when it picked AT&T, making Apple’s control more important than its customers’ service and value and its partner’s quality and ethic.

***

Jun 11, 2010 Update: Interesting article with some scientific info “Does the iPhone 4 Really Have a “Retina Display”?”


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