MonthApril 2011

Read the EULA; you told Apple (and others) they could track you.

I’m finding it hard to get riled up about the latest brouhaha regarding the discovery of a file on iPhones that contains time-stamped location information about places your phone (and presumably you) have been. First, there’s no evidence so far that this information is being sent anywhere. Second, if you use foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla or even Twitter for that matter, it’s highly likely you’re already sending much more detailed information to much more public places. Third, you agreed to let your phone gather information about where you’ve been.

Wait, what?

Really. Remember those End User License Agreements (EULAs)? You know, the pages and pages of text that open whenever you launch an application or device for the first time. The window that you scroll to the bottom of as quickly as possible to click “Agree” or “I Understand” or whatever so you can get on with using the device? The ones that no one ever actually reads?

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Well Andrew Munchbach at Boy Genius Reports has read them. Not just the iPhone’s, but Google’s, Motorola’s, RIM’s, Windows’, HTC’s and others. They all disclose that their devices:

…transmit, collect, maintain, process and use your location data, including the real-time geographic location of your iPhone, and location search queries. The location data and queries…are collected in a form that does not personally identify you and may be used…to provide and improve location-based products and services.

The wording varies, but the message is the same.

It remains to be seen if anything nefarious is being done with this information by any of these companies, or if it’s merely used, as they say, to enhance the quality of location-based services. It also remains to be seen how binding any of these EULAs actually are.

But before you become outraged at the “theft” of your personal data, realize that no one is stealing anything. You’re giving it all away.

Read more of the things you’ve agreed to in Munchbach’s article. (via Ian Betteridge.)

Reuters: iPhone 5 coming in September

The next-generation iPhone will sport the same design as its predecessor, but will have a faster processor, according to a Reuters article. Nothing earth-shattering in that, but the story’s sources say the iPhone 5 will come in September, not July, which has become the traditional month for new iPhones.

Makes sense. Apple has already said its Worldwide Developers Conference would focus on software. What really sells it for me, though, is the idea that the September timeframe has usually been reserved for iPod announcements, and there hasn’t been much to say about them on their own lately. It’s not a stretch to see why Apple would want to roll iPod and iPhone announcements into one event. (via The Loop.)

‘AT&T blocks BlackBerry Bridge from PlayBook users’

This is priceless: RIM’s new PlayBook has no email client. No, that’s not the priceless part. (Well it is, but it’s not the most recent priceless part.) RIM’s “solution” to this is BlackBerry Bridge, an app that lets you tether your PlayBook to your BlackBerry, using it’s email capabilities. Here’s the priceless part: apparently no one at RIM told the folks at AT&T about this, because they’ve blocked the app from working on its network, presumably because the carrier charges extra for tethering—this according to a post on The Loop.

Two CEOs, three COOs and none of them thought to check with AT&T about this before they launched? You just can’t make this stuff up. (via The Loop.)

‘RIM CEO calls a halt to BBC Click interview’

Catch the video here.

The whole situation with RIM swings between laughable and pathetic. Multiple CEOs and COOs — no wonder the company doesn’t seem to have a cohesive strategy anymore. The fact that RIM’s Board of Directors hasn’t tossed Mike Lazaridis out on his ear yet is baffling.

I can’t wait until Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop gets a look at this.

[Update: He already did.]

David Pogue: The iPhone didn’t kill the Flip

I haven’t really studied the story behind Cisco’s axing of the beloved Flip video camera after buying the company that made it for $590 million just two years ago, so I don’t have a strong opinion on it, but I like David Pogue’s argument that the Flip wasn’t killed off simply because it got outflanked by the video recording capabilities of the iPhone.

First, app phones like the iPhone represent only a few percent of cellphone sales. You know who buys app phones? Affluent, East Coast/West Coast, educated, New York Times-reading, Gizmodo-writing Americans.

No, Pogue sees it as one of two things: Cisco simply didn’t know what to do with the device or they were more interested in Flip’s technology (for their own videoconferencing products) than with a consumer electronics device.

The whole piece is a great, thought-provoking read.

Navigon MobileNavigator gets 1.8 update, new features

I’ve long thought Navigon’s MobileNavigator is the best turn-by-turn GPS app available, (far) surpassing even standalone units. Now Navigon has released MobileNavigator 1.8 with updated maps, new features and new options available via in-app purchase. Try getting enhancements like that for free from your standalone unit.

Here’s what the press release has to say about what’s new:

  • Reality Scanner is a navigation industry first augmented reality feature for the iOS platform, providing an instant and effortless way of identifying destinations close-by. Users simply point the iPhone in any direction from where they are and instantly points of interest icons appear directly onto a live camera view, indicating the exact position of the location. Pedestrians won’t miss a beat while they are on foot, in a couple of taps destination such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and more are at their fingertips. Reality Scanner provides this information immediately, providing a quick overview of the immediate surroundings.
  • Safety Cameras alert drivers of upcoming static speed and red light cameras along the route, helping to potentially avoid costly tickets. The feature integrates the database from the industry’s number one safety camera detection company, RoadTraps. This database provides access to over 3900 speed and red light cameras in the US and is regularly updated to ensure the latest cameras are detected. NAVIGON Safety Cameras is available as a single In App Purchase of $4.99.
  • Traffic Check is an easy to read, at-a-glance gage graphic that appears after route calculation and inform drivers of current traffic conditions. The Traffic gage pop-up informs with a green, yellow, and red meter and disappears within a few seconds, indicating how the traffic situation is on the route ahead. If more detailed traffic coverage and alternate routes are needed for users who are not already using the built-in Traffic Live feature, a direct link to the In App Purchase is provided within the graphic. By tapping the “i”, the meter will flip directly to the apps extra menu where the In App Purchase can be made.
  • The Latest Maps by the leading map provider NAVTEQ.

I’m very interested in seeing whether the Reality Scanner is as cool as it sounds, and the Traffic Check feature looks very useful — particularly for users like me with long daily commutes. I also love the fact that MobileNavigator is universal app, optimized for both the iPhone and iPad.

The 1.8 update is free and available now for all versions (regions) of MobileNavigator via the App Store. (iTunes link to MobileNavigator USA Edition.)

Take Control of Media on Your iPad now available

Jeff Carlson is a smart guy and a very good writer. If you want to know more about your iPad 2, you should buy his book.

Before you say “It’s an iPad — I already know everything I need to,” see if you can answer these questions:

  • How do I move my media to my iPad?
  • How do I highlight reading material in iBooks?
  • What app should I use to check out ebooks from my public library?
  • How do I read magazines on the iPad?
  • How do I play my music from my iPad to my home stereo system?
  • How can I make music playlists right on the iPad?
  • What are six ways of adding a video file to the iPad’s memory?
  • How do I set up a slideshow of my photos on the iPad?
  • What tricks can I use to take better photos with my iPad 2 camera?
  • How do RAW images work with the iPad?
  • How can I integrate my iPad and my Apple TV?
  • How can I use my iPad as a remote control for consumer electronics?

That’s a lot of pretty advanced stuff for 15 bucks.

Everything’s already been invented (Apparently by Apple)

TechCrunch has leaked screenshots of the new Windows App Store:

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Compare that with this screenshot of the Mac App Store (also via TechCrunch):

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Now consider what smartphones looked like after the iPhone; tablets after the iPad; and now this. Seriously, isn’t anyone even trying to be original anymore?

Amazon to offer ad-subsidized Kindles

From MarketWatch (via Daring Fireball):

Amazon.com Inc. said Monday afternoon that it will begin selling a cheaper version of its Kindle e-reader device that is supported with advertisements early next month.

The ad-supported Kindle will cost $114 — $25 less than the cheapest Kindle currently available — and will be available on May 3.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber likes the idea, but says $25 off seems “nickel-and-dimey.” I agree. If they’re really going to make this an experiment, go to $99 and break that psychological hundred dollar barrier.

TMO: ‘Apple’s iPad finds a place with autistic children’

Nice piece by my friend Jeff Gamet at The Mac Observer on the impact of Apple’s iPad as a tool for autistic children. What makes it really notable, though, is the first comment following the article, by Pat Mahon (also a friend of mine)—a real-life example of the device’s power.

I won’t spoil it by posting it here—you’ll have to read it yourself.

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