Posts Tagged location data

I imagine suburbanites wouldn’t get much use out of it, but us metropolitan… -ites (?) could put 16 year-old app aficionado James Shaw’s Toilet Finder! to good use. Well, us and anyone visiting our “fair” city. Lots of tourists fail to come up with a Potty Plan when they set out on their walking tours and whatnot.

It’s a common problem when anyone is oot and aboot in unfamiliar territory. Someone has to “go,” and no one knows where the nearest restroom is. It typically leads to one of two scenarios: either the twitchy individual leaves the pack to look for one on their own, which usually takes a lot longer than expected, or they all wander off and waste time that could have been better spent on other things. This is exactly why Toilet Finder! was created.

The app uses the GPS to automatically find and display all known toilets in the immediate area. Conveniently displayed in either map, satellite or hybrid styles. Any crap-tanks in the database will also be accompanied by an address and phone number, just in case it’s late at night or in a weird location. And just to make things even more helpful, the app can provide directions to the desired bathroom.

Sounds useful, no? Toilet Finder! is in the App Store right now for a dollar. Given the amount of time and/or money one could waste while searching for an “outlet” – I’m inclined to think it might be worth it.


$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-10-20 :: Category: Navigation

Location Services is a necessary component of iOS, used to determine your location for applications like Maps and Compass. Without it, these applications would be unable to function to their best ability (for example – the blue ball telling you where you are in Maps). Third-party applications can also make use of Location Services, provided you offer your consent by tapping “OK” when a request message pops up. It can be turned “off” by tapping Settings > General > Location Services. But does it really turn off?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that “Apple Inc.’s iPhone is collecting and storing location information even when location services are turned off” by way of nearby cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots. Although the data “[doesn't] appear to be transmitted back to Apple,” it opens new questions with regards to privacy and technology on Apple’s flagship mobile device.

The test device was an iPhone 4 running iOS 4, the latest software released by Apple in June. “Over the span of several hours as the phone was moved [with location services off], it continued to collect location data from new places.” The data comes in the form of GPS co-ordinates and time stamps, but WSJ note “the coordinates were not from the exact locations that the phone traveled, and some of them were several miles away.” Apple has not yet responded for a comment.

MacRumors reports that one of its readers mailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs for clarification on the issue, to which Jobs replied: “We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.” Technically speaking, Apple does not collect location services data, but it now appears as if the iPhone does. The data is not encrypted.

The issue has sparked controversy on both a national and international level, with Senator Al Franken writing an open letter to Steve Jobs including nine questions related to the matter. Representative Edward Markey has called for a congressional investigation. Bloomberg reports that South Korea’s communications regulator has opened an investigation into whether Apple is breaking Korean law by storing the data. And France, Italy and Germany are following too.

So what does all this mean? For those who use Location Services constantly, like Google Latitude users or those travelling by way of Maps, it means little. But for those who don’t use Location Services frequently, or have turned the feature off altogether, it puts into question how private the location data really is. On a computer that an iPhone has been synced on, the unencrypted file can be opened.

All eyes are on Apple now.

[WSJ, MacRumors & Bloomberg]

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