How much did ‘Locationgate’ cost Apple? Less than $1,000

By on July 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM.

How much did ‘Locationgate’ cost Apple? Less than $1,000

Following the “Antennagate” scandal that cost Apple zero sales last year, a new “Locationgate” scandal took the media by storm earlier this year that ultimately cost Apple zero sales. It was discovered in late April that the iPhone and 3G-equipped iPads were secretly tracking and storing users’ locations. Apple issued a statement seven days later, claiming the culprit was a bug that would be addressed as soon as possible. Apple also said that it does not track its users or their locations. Some people tend to take things more personally than others — or perhaps they’re out for a quick buck — so lawsuits were inevitable. Thus far, just one single complaint related to Locationgate has resulted in a payout from Apple, and it was awarded to South Korean man Kim Hyung-suk this past May, Reuters reports. What was the damage? 1 million won, which translates to a whopping $945. Kim, a lawyer, said Apple sent the payment last month. More →

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Video game sales elude April showers, grow 20%

By on May 13, 2011 at 7:31 AM.

Video game sales elude April showers, grow 20%

Consumer electronics tracker NPD Group on Thursday released its tallies for the U.S. gaming industry, revealing continued console sales growth and rebounding software sales. Last month, sales of video game software dipped to $735.4 million from $875.3 million in March 2010. While sales shrank sequentially, as they do in April in many industries, gaming software jumped 26% from $398.5 million in April 2010 to $503.2 million last month. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was the best-selling console in April, having climbed 60% year-over-year to 297,000 units. Sales of Sony’s PlayStation 3 grew 13% to 204,000 units and Nintendo sold 174,000 Wii consoles, a 37% decline compared to April 2010. Mortal Kombat 2011 was the best-selling software title in April, having sold over 1 million units including standard games and special editions. Portal 2, Lego Star Wars III, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters rounded out the top five titles. More →

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Verizon adding location tracking warning sticker to phones

By on April 29, 2011 at 11:17 AM.

Verizon adding location tracking warning sticker to phones

In an effort to be “clear and transparent” with its customers and the government, Verizon Wireless has sent a letter to Congress detailing plans on how it will better inform consumers about location data collection on their smartphones. The wireless carrier will soon apply a removable stickers to its devices with the following warning:

“This device is capable of determining its (and your) physical, geographical, location adn can associate location data with other customer information. To limit access to location information by others, refer to the User Guide for Location settings and be cautious when downloading, accessing, or using applications and services.”

Verizon Wireless will also issue alerts more clearly in its V CAST applications, some of which can be used to track family members or friends voluntarily. It confirmed that it does not sell or rent out personal user information, and that user habits are only used for internal marketing purposes. Verizon says it only collects location data for “various service and operational purposes,” and that it uses the data to ensure customers have solid call and data quality. Hit the jump for a full PDF of Verizon’s letter to Congress. More →

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Apple and Google track your location with computers, too

By on April 27, 2011 at 11:25 AM.

Apple and Google track your location with computers, too

Break out your tin foil hats, people — they’re out to get you. Apple finally issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the recent uproar over iOS devices tracking their owners’ locations, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal will ensure that consumers can continue to cry foul. According to the WSJ, Apple and Google both track users’ locations not only using mobile devices, but also using computers. Apple allegedly collects location information each time its Mac computers scan for wireless networks, and Google is said to collect location data from Wi-Fi connected computers that use its Chrome browser or its search toolbar plug-in with other browsers. The report notes that it is unclear how Apple and Google use this data, and it says in “most cases” the location tracking services are opt-in. More →

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Apple issues statement on location tracking; software update on the way

By on April 27, 2011 at 8:52 AM.

Apple issues statement on location tracking; software update on the way

Apple has finally broken its week-long silence over the location-tracking database scandal surrounding iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 and higher. The company states that it never has, and never plans to, track users’ iDevices, and that the purpose of the database file in question — consolidated.db — is to “help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” The company noted that a software update will limit the size of the location file and be available in the next few weeks — the next major iOS release will add a layer of encryption to the file. Apple’s full statement is after the break. Have a look and let us know what you think. More →

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Microsoft answers questions on Windows Phone tracking amid iPhone scandal

By on April 26, 2011 at 7:39 AM.

Microsoft answers questions on Windows Phone tracking amid iPhone scandal

Might as well let other major mobile operating system manufacturers in on the location-tracking scandal fun, no? While Apple, and to a much lesser extent Google, have come under fire for their phone location storage practices, other major OS manufacturers have been silent. We’re not sure being the “squeaky wheel” would pay dividends in this instance. That hasn’t stopped the media from asking, however, and CNET posed the question to Microsoft: what do you track?

“Microsoft says its operating system transmits the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point (but not the name), signal strength, a randomly generated unique device ID retained for an unspecified limited period of time, and, if GPS is turned on, the precise location and direction and speed of travel,” writes CNET. “That happens when the ‘application or user makes a request for location information,’ the company says.”

CNET has a laundry list of questions for Microsoft that remain unanswered. The current location brouhaha now has the attention of the courts and some distinguished members of the United States Congress — so we’re betting most major mobile operating system manufacturers will be answering questions in an official capacity in the near future. More →

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iPhone still tracks users when locations services are disabled, test finds

By on April 25, 2011 at 6:33 PM.

iPhone still tracks users when locations services are disabled, test finds

The recent rediscovery that Apple’s iPhone is tracking and storing users’ locationsafter users all agreed to let Apple track, store and use their locations, of course — has caused quite an uproar. Unlike the last time this was discovered, the ordeal continues to make news nearly a week later instead of being forgotten immediately. In this latest round of outrage, The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Apple’s iPhone continues to collect and store users’ locations even when location services are disabled. The Journal believes that the data is collected using data from cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots as the iPhone communicates with them. This, too, is well within Apple’s rights — and the rights of other cell phone makers — but the revelation is still likely to result in a new round of chatter. Additional reports reveal that government bodies in several countries including South Korea, France and Germany are investigating Apple’s location-tracking practices, and they will likely make formal inquiries once they have enough information t0 do so. More →

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Apple sued over iPhone location tracking scandal

By on April 25, 2011 at 3:13 PM.

Apple sued over iPhone location tracking scandal

It was only a matter of time. Apple, Inc. has been named as a defendant in a federal district court suit over the iPhone and iPad 3G location tracking scandalat this point we think it’s safe to refer to it as such. The Cupertino company’s silence over the past week has only intensified rumors and speculation that Apple is, somehow, using this harvested data in a clandestine or nefarious manner. Bloomberg notes that the lawsuit was filed in Tampa, FL by two consumers and, at this point, it is unknown if the duo will seek class action status. Details on the case are scarce at the moment, but we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about this one. More →

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Apple not reviewing location data, researcher says

By on April 21, 2011 at 9:15 PM.

Apple not reviewing location data, researcher says

On Wednesday, researchers from O’Reilly claimed to discover a tracking feature in iPhones and 3G iPads that reportedly sent location data back to Apple. Another researcher, this time from Katana Forensics, says otherwise. “Apple is not harvesting this data from your device,” said Kata Forensics lead engineer Alex Levinson. “This is data on the device that you as the customer purchased and unless [O'Reilly] can show concrete evidence supporting this claim – network traffic analysis of connections to Apple servers – I rebut this claim in full. Through my research in this field and all traffic analysis I have performed, not once have I seen this data traverse a network.” Levinson argues that the “hidden tracking file” is neither new nor a secret. He wrote about it in a book by Sean Morrissey titled iOS Forensic Analysis, which was published on December 5th, 2010, and says that the collected data is simply used by native iOS apps like Maps and Camera. If you’re still worried Apple is collecting the info – that you likely agreed to provide anyway — Levinson even cites a California state law that says: “No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person.” Hit the jump for more from Alex Levinson.

More →

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Jailbreak app stops iPhone track-tracking in its tracks

By on April 21, 2011 at 3:12 PM.

Jailbreak app stops iPhone track-tracking in its tracks

Blogs were outraged Wednesday following the rediscovery that 3G-enabled iOS devices like the iPhone store a record of users’ GPS positions in a local file. Of course every person with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch agreed to let Apple store and use this information, but it’s much more fun to get outraged than it is to read terms and conditions. No matter — for those who don’t want their iPhones to remember that they were pillaging a Dunkin’ Donuts instead of working out at the gym, there is now a simple answer: untrackerd. Jailbroken iDevice owners can now install a simple utility that will stop their devices from storing this information. The app is free and is available in the BigBoss repository, but the app might just be a temporary solution — according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, the file that stores location history is actually a cache file that should be cleared out occasionally but isn’t due to a bug or an oversight. Gruber thinks the bug will be fixed in the next iOS update, though no timeline is available at the moment. More →

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Your smartphone is tracking you, and you said it was okay

By on April 20, 2011 at 3:23 PM.

Your smartphone is tracking you, and you said it was okay

The Internet nearly exploded this morning after O’Reilly filed a report indicating that users of Apple’s iPhone and 3G iPad were being tracked. A file, found in the filesystem of the aforementioned devices running iOS 4 or higher, contains a list of time-stamped GPS coordinates that correlate with the device’s location. The only issue I have with Apple’s methodology is that the file used to store said locations is unencrypted. Am I apathetic about my personal privacy? No, not at all. So why don’t I care? Because I agreed to let Apple do this. And you if you have a smartphone of any kind, there is a high likelihood you did too. Read on to see exactly what you agreed to. More →

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Apple stealthily recording, storing GPS position of iPhone, 3G iPad users [video]

By on April 20, 2011 at 11:18 AM.

Apple stealthily recording, storing GPS position of iPhone, 3G iPad users [video]

Several researchers at O’Reilly have discovered an extremely troubling feature of iPhones and 3G iPads running Apple’s iOS 4. In a blog post and accompanying video, the site details that Apple is storing the GPS coordinates of cellular iDevices locally, in an unencrypted and unprotected file. “Ever since iOS 4 arrived, your device has been storing a long list of locations and time stamps,” reads the post. “We’re not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it’s clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations.” O’Reilly goes on to note that along with a list of timestamped GPS coordinates, the file also contains a list of Wi-Fi access points that the affected device has been in range of. “Anybody with access to this file knows where you’ve been over the last year, since iOS 4 was released,” the brief continues. The file in question — named consolidated.db — is present in the backup file created when syncing a cellular iOS device with iTunes, and, obviously, on the iOS device itself. “Why this data is stored and how Apple intends to use it — or not — are important questions that need to be explored,” writes the team. Apple’s security team did not respond to O’Reilly‘s request for comment. The video made by the researchers is after the break. More →

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BendDesk is a curved multitouch workspace, and we’re in love

By on November 27, 2010 at 3:08 PM.

BendDesk is a curved multitouch workspace, and we’re in love

The BendDesk is a new multitouch workspace created by the talented minds at The Media Computing Group, and it’s absolutely incredible-looking. It’s a fully curved display that looks to form a 90 degree bend and makes use of two projectors, 3 cameras, and loads of IR lights to view and track up to 10 touch points. The software they have come up with is also equally impressive — you can flick photos for instance from the top or bottom part of the display, or hold them in a locker in the middle where the curve is. Unfortunately this isn’t something you’re able to buy anytime due to the fact a ship date nor price were revealed, but we’ll keep waiting. In the meantime, check out their demo video after the break. More →

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