Tag: Location services »
James Shaw, handy app wonder-developer, has done it again. Now that the need for spontaneous toilet location is covered, he's moved on to the next most important thing: pizza. That's right, just like the ever-useful Toilet Finder, Pizza Finder automatically hunts down any nearby deliciousness and shows users exactly where to find it.
From mom and pop joints to upscale eateries, from Little Caesar's to Dominos, Pizza Finder will use the iOS device's built-in GPS to locate anything that sells the tasty pies and literally provide a map to it. The app also presents addresses and contact info, which makes setting up reservations while en route a breeze. Of course, it's also useful for ordering takeout. Then leading the way to the restaurant so the food can actually be taken out, naturally.
Pizza-enthusiasts who hate being left out in the cold when traipsing through parts unknown can rest easy. Pizza Finder is here. Heck, for $1 it can make pretty much anyone's life (or at least last-minute meal plans) easier.
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.
I must admit, the existence of Localmind is something I wasn't even aware of until recently. Now I'm wondering why that is, since it's a rather ingenious app. Utilizing an iOS device's GPS in order to let users ask and answer questions about various destinations in their area seems like the kind of thing that's both ahead of its time and has been a long time coming. It's odd that it's taken so long, I know.
So recently Localmind (the developer) released a new update for Localmind (the app) which includes a slew of new things. A number of them are being touted as mostly unnoticeable but still important (i.e. small tweaks and such). However, there are also a trio of specific additions that users have been clamoring for.
First, users can now use photos to answer questions which can provide some (I would imagine) very handy visual aids, such as an honest look at how long a line might be. Second, it's now possible to answer past questions and those that have already been answered, adding a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) impression. Third, and perhaps most puzzling for a "Top 3 Requested Features" feature, is the ability to turn off the anonymous feature and use a real name and/or portrait. I'm not entirely sure about how essential that last one is, but I can certainly see how the other two options can be handy.
Localmind is the kind of app that can certainly be useful to just about anyone on certain occasions, such as when going to the movies or heading off to the airport. Folks such as myself in major metropolitan areas will no doubt get even more use out of it. Regardless, anyone who leaves the house every now and then would do well to check this out. Especially given the increased usefulness with this update.
Neer has been referred to as Foursquare for adults and it's understandable why. It's even more obvious with its latest update offering To Do functionality.
Neer is more about the potential uses of knowing where people are than simply checking in and competing for badges.
The To Do list is location aware meaning that it'll keep track of what you should be doing depending on where you are. Everything is done automatically right down to Neer updating when you enter or leave a building. You can just leave the app to go about its business and give you a buzz as and when it needs to.
Sharing features are there but you can choose what places you share and with who so that you can still have some much needed privacy.
It's an interesting move for location based technology and one that's got a lot of potential. Being reminded by your phone at the appropriate time to pick up your dry cleaning or buy some milk could be a real timesaver.
Neer is a free app but currently only available in USA and Canada.
Apple has released a press release addressing some of the issues that have arisen in the past week with the recent controversy over the location tracking controversy. First, Apple claims that the iPhone is not tracking users' locations - they're "maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around [users'] current location," which is designed to "help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested," as GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes to triangulate, and using information about nearby wireless networks and cell towers can speed up this process.
One of the big issues is that the iPhone is storing a large cache of data - according to Apple, this is not the actual user location, but a cache of the wifi/cell tower around you. The problem is that the cache isn't getting cleared out, and this is a bug that Apple is claiming will be fixed in a future software update. This is in line with what John Gruber has said recently, that the length of the history of this cache is a glitch. Apple claims that they cannot track you with this data - that it is sent to them "in an anonymous and encrypted form" and that "Apple cannot identify the source of this data." As well, this cache will no longer be backed up in iTunes, and that the file will be encrypted in the next major software update. Now, one of the other controversies is that this data was still being sent (approximately every 12 hours, according to research) even if Location Services were turned off. Apple is claiming that this too is a bug, and one that will be fixed in a software update in the near future.
Now, skeptics may claim that this is old information, and Apple are only addressing it now as the controversy has risen up. Alex Levinson and Sean Morrissey published a book about this in December 2010, after all. However, consider that very few people actually knew about this until the recent controversy that flared up, and it seems plausible that Apple could be telling the truth, especially as Apple is now largely adjusted their behavior to similar to what Android does. As well, Apple has mentioned that they're starting to collect traffic data in order to provide "iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years." Along with Apple dumping Skyhook for location services last year, Apple has plenty of reason to be collecting location data. At worst, at least Apple is now fixing these issues since people have been complaining about them.
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.
The iPod Touch is sometimes considered the iPhone's "baby brother" of sorts. While it's matured into a formidable device, there are still a few things that us iPod Touch users don't have: a camera, for example, and an always-on cell connection with GPS. Location Services on the iPhone are a cinch thanks to GPS. But what about iPod Touch users? Location Services can be incredibly useful, but there's nothing more frustrating than clicking "deny" every time an app requests to use your location in order to avoid a long, fruitless search. Well, it turns out that iPod users haven't been left out of the loop...not quite.
If you're one of the lucky ones, your iPod's Location Services will work the instant you connect to a WiFi network, like they're supposed to. But for the many of us, that nasty "Location cannot be determined" pop-up is a constant reminder of our device's limits. So why does this work for some people, and not for others? It all depends on where you live and what wireless networks your device finds. For example, my iPod's Location Services were absolutely useless at home, but when I drove two hours to the Apple Store to have them look at it (hey, I had other shopping to do, too!), suddenly there wasn't a problem.
The reason for the discrepancy is that the iPod relies on Skyhook for location information. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of it; the Apple "Geniuses" hadn't, either. Skyhook is essentially a database of known WiFi points and their addresses that supplies the technology behind non-GPS Location Services on the iDevices. (See the "how it works" page.) Here's the catch, though: if your WiFi access point isn't registered with Skyhook, Location Services simply won't work. Skyhook's coverage is far from comprehensive, focusing primarily on urban areas, so this isn't exactly an uncommon problem.
To remedy the situation, you can register your router on their website by entering your email address, your physical address, and your router's MAC address. Instructions for finding your MAC address are available on their website, and after submitting the information it takes 1-3 weeks for Location Services to work.
And that's it! So, if you were wondering why Location Services just won't work on your iPod...here's the likely answer. :)
Let us know if you've had a similar experience, and/or if this works for you. As for me, I'll be enjoying my newfound ability to, you know, use Maps. What a relief!