Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Phone vs. Occam's Razor

I'm sure that Apple wants to destroy civilization. At least that is how most people see it.

Oh no, the iPhone is tracking your location (and lo and behold Android phones too) all the time! They could have sent The Man to pick you up in a black van at any moment! They're in "cahoots" with Big Brother!

I bet they're going to use this info to target you for more evil, more personalized ads and you'll be forced to buy things locally which might accidentally stimulate the local economy and help out your neighbors! NOOOOOOoooooooooooooo!!!!!1!

Back in the world of Occam, it turns out that if I click Google's "clock" app I can simply tap the bottom half of the screen and it gives me local weather information...in seconds...which requires it to know your location to give you relevant weather info...and it turns out that it only stores the last 50 "location tracking points" and then dumps earlier, irrelevant data. But no, my "needing location for weather forecasting" theory is a lot less plausible than your "watching your every move, giggling evilly in a shadowy room somewhere" theory.


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1 comment:

Don said...

The low-level file that you have access do on the phone or on the computer it's synced to actually has a lot more data points than that. I built the proof app someone put together called iPhoneTracker (you can find it on github if you have a mac or want to see the code) and it has data for me going back to Jun of last year. I can prove it by looking at the data it has marked for last August when I was in Central Florida, where I haven't been back to since.

That said, I'm not up in arms about this either. I think there's a good case to be made that Apple should be purging this data as it gets old - for space purposes if nothing else - but my maxim in life has never been to assume malice when simple stupidity will do. I'd wager this is likely a coding flaw or at least a somewhat ham-handed move to keep debugging data without thinking of the repercussions.