6/22/2010

Apple collecting, sharing iPhone users’ precise locations

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Inc. is now collecting the “precise,” “real-time geographic location” of its users’ iPhones, iPads and computers.

In an updated version of its privacy policy, the company added a paragraph noting that once users agree, Apple and unspecified “partners and licensees” may collect and store user location data.

When users attempt to download apps or media from the iTunes store, they are prompted to agree to the new terms and conditions. Until they agree, they cannot download anything through the store.

The company says the data is anonymous and does not personally identify users. Analysts have shown, however, that large, specific data sets can be used to identify people based on behavior patterns.

Google Wi-Fi Data Grab Snared Passwords, E-mail

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Wi-Fi traffic intercepted by Google’s Street View cars included passwords and e-mail, according to the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL).

CNIL launched an investigation last month into Google’s recording of traffic carried over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks, and has begun examining the data Google handed over as part of that investigation.

Google revealed on May 14 that the fleet of vehicles it operates to compile panoramic images of city streets for its Google Maps site had inadvertently recorded traffic from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. Google’s intention was only to record the identity and position of Wi-Fi hotspots in order to power a location service it operates, the company said. However, the software it used to record that information went much further, intercepting and storing data packets too.

At the time, Google said it only collected “fragments” of personal Web traffic as it passed by, because its Wi-Fi equipment automatically changes channels five times a second. However, with Wi-Fi networks operating at up to 54M bits per second, it always seemed likely that those one-fifth of a second recordings would contain more than just “fragments” of personal data.

That has now been confirmed by CNIL, which since June 4 has been examining Wi-Fi traffic and other data provided by Google on two hard disks and over a secure data connection to its servers.

Apple: FaceTime will not use airtime minutes

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple has confirmed that FaceTime, iPhone 4’s new video chat feature, will not consume any minutes of cellular airtime once activated.

A company spokesperson told Business Insider that all cellular voice use is terminated as soon as a FaceTime connection is established between two phones, and all subsequent communication happens through Apple’s own transmission protocol over Wi-Fi.

FaceTime, which is was introduced as a new feature in the upcoming iPhone 4, allows two phones to connect to each other and turn a phone call into a video chat. The video communication system works only over a Wi-Fi connection, meaning that FaceTime calls won’t use any cellular data, either.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble slash e-reader prices

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Amazon.com Inc and Barnes & Noble Inc reduced prices of their electronic readers on Monday, responding to the threat from Apple Inc’s iPad tablet computer.

Shares in both companies fell about 3 percent as investors feared intense competition could lure away buyers of e-books, the fastest-growing segment in a moribund bookselling industry.

Profit margins on Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle are estimated by analysts to be relatively modest, but the devices are important to attracting book buyers.

Amazon announced its $70 price cut to $189 hours after Barnes & Noble lowered the price on its own 3G compatible “Nook” to $199. Both had cost $259.

Apple’s iPad, launched in April, can also function as an e-reader. It sold more than 2 million units in its first 60 days and its own e-bookstore has quickly won market share.

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