One sure way to deplete your smartphone’s battery life is to leave GPS services turned on for a prolonged period of time. But now researchers at Microsoft (MSFT) have come up with a smart way to get phones’ GPS chips to consumer significantly less power by outsourcing some of their key functions to the cloud. Technology Review reports that Microsoft researchers have figured out a way to use the GPS chips to only collect the most important data from satellites while they relying on “public, online databases” to collect other key data “such as satellite trajectories and Earth elevation values, to calculate the device’s past locations.” Microsoft Research principal researcher Jie Liu tells Technology Review that low-powered GPS chips could lead to more “continuous location-sensing applications” that can give users more detailed and accurate information than many of today’s GPS-capable apps.
California’s state legislature has just passed a law requiring police to obtain a proper warrant before using tracking technologies such as GPS to gather information on suspects, Ars Technica reports. The legislation, which was co-sponsored by both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, now heads to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature, although Ars notes that Brown “vetoed California’s last attempt at enforcing stricter privacy rules in 2011, when he killed a bill that would have prevented police from searching the phones of apprehended suspects without a warrant.” More →
Mobile devices can track where you are, where you have been and soon may be able to predict where you are going. Researchers in the U.K. have created an algorithm that can predict where smartphone users will go, even before they get there, Technology Review reported. The tech tracks a user’s mobility patterns and adjusts for anomalies by factoring in the patterns of friends as well as friends of friends. The method was found to be remarkably accurate and on average was less than 20 meters off when predicting a user’s location 24 hours in advance. When the algorithm didn’t take into consideration the previous location of friends and mutual friends, it was found to be an average of 1,000 meters off when predicting a user’s future location. More →
Facebook has pulled a new application designed to help users make friends in their areas. The new Find Friends Nearby application that uses a device’s GPS capabilities to find others who are logged into Facebook and are living or working nearby. The company hasn’t yet given any reason that it took the app down. Before it was removed, users could go to the URL http://fb.com/ffn to see a list of people nearby who currently had the page open. As TechCrunch noted in its story on the new app, “the service comes a little under two months after Facebook announced the acquisition of Glancee, a mobile app that helps users discover people near them with similar interests, whose three founders have now joined Facebook and closed down their app.” More →
How many times have you or someone you know lost a pet? I’ve been looking for something I can use to keep track of my dog, Moto, when we take him out of the house — you know, in case he starts to chase a squirrel and gets off leash. The Pet Tracker is the best thing I’ve found so far. It’s a reasonably small puck (with wings) that securely attaches to your dog’s leash, and it features a cellular connection to provide data on your pet’s whereabouts. It will also provide information about the device itself. The Pet Tracker charges on an included charging base in under a few hours, and in normal usage with Moto in the house most of the time, and the Pet Tracker reasonably close to the charging base, I’ve seen it last upwards of one week.
Telenav on Tuesday announced the company’s “Scout for Apps” HTML5 voice-guided GPS navigation service. The service is being offered to developers who are looking for a free, turn-by-turn, voice-guided GPS navigation solution that can be built directly into their apps or websites, and the first mobile apps to incorporate Telenav’s service are scheduled to roll out soon. Avantar’s popular Yellow Pages app, which serves more than 90 million listings each month, will be among the first to incorporate the Scout for Apps service. “Currently, when users click on an address in our Yellow Pages app, we provide a standard map experience to help users get to their desired destinations,” said Adrian Ochoa, CEO of Avantar. “Once we launch with Scout for Apps, our customers will receive full-blown turn-by-turn, voice-guided directions, and they will never have to leave our app to get those directions and guidance. We love being able to offer this type of service on our platform.” Read on for more. More →
Researchers from North Carolina State University have found that mobile applications that integrate advertisements pose privacy and a security risks. The team conducted a study that examined 100,000 apps from the Google Play market and noticed that more than half contained “ad libraries,” while 297 of the apps included “aggressive ad libraries” that could download and run code from remote servers. Researchers also found that more than 48,000 of the apps that were examined could track location via GPS, while others could access call logs, phone numbers and a list of all the apps a user has stored on his or her phone. Read on for more. More →
Philip Falcone’s startup LightSquared planned to deploy a nationwide 4G LTE network in the United States. The firm’s service was found to cause interference with spectrum used by various GPS navigation and tracking solutions, however, forcing the Federal Communications Commission to block the network’s launch. Dish Network is looking to build a similar network and is currently awaiting government approval. Executives and analysts have said that Dish will probably avoid the interference concerns that killed LightSquared’s network, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The satellite company’s frequencies, which are above 2GHz, are far away from those used by GPS devices and Lightsquared’s 1600Mhz band, and are less likely to interfere. “It’s not as close to GPS, so it’s unlikely to interfere,” said Matthew Desch, chief executive officer of Iridium Communications, which operates more than 60 satellites. “But the approval is going to take some time. The FCC is going to make sure they don’t have another LightSquared problem on their hands.” Bryan Kraft, an analyst at Evercore Partners, believes that Dish will gain FCC approval in 6 to 12 months. More →
In an effort to bypass censorship as well as heat from authorities and copyright owners, The Pirate Bay on Sunday unveiled new plans to “experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air.” The GPS controlled drones will hover over international waters and host parts of the website. “Everyone knows WHAT TPB is. Now they’re going to have to think about WHERE TPB is,” The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak. “We’re already the most resilient and the most down to earth. That’s why we need to lift off, being this connected to the ground doesn’t feel appropriate to us anymore.” The Pirate Bay has been the subject of a number of raids and investigations stemming from numerous claims of copyright infringement. In order to stay afloat, the service seemingly must find new and innovative ways to reach the masses. ”We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet. But we can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore,” the team stated on its blog. “These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.” More →
LightSquared announced on Tuesday that the company plans to cut its workforce by 45% in an effort to cut costs. ”This and other cost savings measures will allow LightSquared to continue to navigate the regulatory process as it works with the appropriate government agencies to find solutions to the GPS interference issue and bring its $14 billion privately funded wireless broadband network to more than 260 million Americans,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. Last week, the FCC announced that it would block the company’s planned 4G LTE network due to issues concerning GPS interference. LightSquared currently employs 330 people and according to Reuters, the company is not currently considering bankruptcy. More →
LightSquared and former FCC chief engineer Edmond Thomas on Wednesday said the GPS test devices that were used by the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT EXCOM) to test its new network were rigged by “manufacturers of GPS receivers and government end users to produce bogus results.” The company said that devices from GPS manufacturers, which have claimed LightSquared’s network interferes with GPS communications, were “cherry picked” in secret and that independent authorities were not allowed to partake or oversee the tests or test results. In addition, LightSquared said the tests focused on obsolete technology that is only used in “niche market devices” and that are “least able to withstand potential interference” from wireless networks. Read on for more. More →
In a memo released on Friday, the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee said the nine federal agencies that make up the body have concluded unanimously that none of LightSquared’s proposals would overcome the network’s interference with GPS technologies. The announcement comes as a crushing blow for the startup, which is looking to build an LTE network with the company’s 1600MHz frequency. Preliminary testing last year showed that LightSquared’s planned network interfered with GPS. After a handful of rebuttals, changes, and more testing, the government has decided to pull the plug and request no further testing. The Federal Aviation Administration also concluded the network would interfere with aircraft safety systems.”Based upon this testing and analysis, there appear to be no practical solutions or mitigations that would permit the LightSquared broadband service, as proposed, to operate in the next few months or years without significantly interfering with GPS. As a result, no additional testing is warranted at this time,” the memo said. LightSquared slammed the decision, claiming the agency has a biased agenda that is in favor of the GPS industry. Late last year, LightSquared reiterated that the GPS industry is at fault and it demanded approval from the FCC to begin deploying its network. More →
LightSquared has asked NASA’s inspector general to investigate whether or not an advisor to federal agencies has conflicts of interest that make it unfair for him to determine whether or not LightSquared’s 4G LTE network interferes with GPS networks. The advisor was named as Bradford Parkinson, who works both as a vice chairman of Trimble Navigation, an industry board that advises federal agencies on GPS technology, and also as a Stanford University professor, The Wall Street Journal said Friday. “His involvement on both has been known by everyone involved since concerns of GPS interference by LightSquared were raised,” a GPS coalition spokesperson Dale Leibach told The Wall Street Journal. Read on for more. More →