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Comment Re:Smart phones are not private (Score 1) 478

Citation needed for the iPhone and Carrier IQ part. Your link lacks any reference to iPhone or iOS. Apple has never allowed carriers to install custom versions of iOS on the phones. They only allow carriers to send Apple information for carrier specific settings such as APN, that Apple then distributes to the appropriate iPhone owners.

Apple did way more to loosen carrier control over phones then Google has with Android, RIM with Blackberry, and Microsoft with WP7.

Comment Re:Where is iOS intrusive? (Score 1) 478

And the two bugs were:
- The cached data of locations of WiFi and Cell towers was stored in a directory incorrectly flagged for backup to the PC/Mac.
- Turning off Location Services didn't clear the cache.

Apple also did change the behavior of the cache to clear entries after a week, which I find annoying. I've noticed the difference in time it takes to find me when I want to use location services when I'm out and about in the larger metro area on the weekends.

The rest of the bugs were in the so called "journalists" the blogged about it, turning it into locationgate thanks to the internet echo chamber.

Comment Re:Smart phones are not private (Score 1) 478

There is no "automatically" with iCloud. It has to be turned on. A new device with iOS 5 will ask, just as it asks about location services, and the ability to send the diagnostic info to Apple. There are no defaults, every user has to make the choice.

Actually use a device and do some research, kids! Yes, the terms of service has all the info about what happens when you turn on these services. But to say any of this happens automatically from day one with a device is incorrect.

Privacy between you and your cellular provider is a completely different subject though.

Comment Re:Doesn't Matter (Score 2) 447

Why should I drop it? Most people don't forgive other companies (Apple, Microsoft, etc) for grievances done over a decade ago, and yet Google gets a free pass after a week?

I'm not bringing it up to use as a fanboy attack like many others do. I'm bringing it up to illustrate the dangers of blindly believing Google's "open" message. It's open until they decide it's closed. There is nothing stopping Google from doing the exact same trick for future Android devices. I want to see Google do good, and keep Android open. The Honeycomb situation should not be forgotten, so we can try and pressure Google to stay on message more frequently.

Part of me (call it the tin foil hat part of my mind) has to wonder if Honeycomb was closed for as long as it was to prevent Amazon from using it to fork for their Fire tablet. Ultimately I think that if it was part of the motivation, it;s more damaging to Android as a whole in the tablet space. Some devs are going to be targeting 2.3 for the Fire, and doing lowest common denominator ports to 3.0/4.0 Android tablets, leading to a poorer experience for everyone.

Comment Re:Doesn't Matter (Score 2) 447

If you want to nit pick meanings, fine, though to get stuck doing so misses the larger picture. To most people, Android means a phone, running Google's Android OS, and Google's Android applications such as the marketplace, Gmail, Maps, etc. The marketplace, maps, Gmail and other common apps that come with every Google Android certified device are not open.

The reason I make a distinction between open and closed here is that yes, on Linux, almost the entire stack is open, from the proper Linux kernel, to the Gnome/KDE windowing environment, to the browsers, e-mail apps and other common programs bundled with a typical Linux distribution.

Yes, Android is functional without the closed bits Google doesn't ship, but only functional to engineering minded people who need a good OS to build their own mobile platform or device.

One interesting part that changed from open to closed is the handling of AGPS location caching. Remember, that same thing everyone blew up at Apple over last year? Yeah, Android does the same, and the open code revealed it, and the complete hiding of it inside some closed location API Google provides with Google Certified devices.

Comment Re:but but but... Apple (Score 5, Informative) 447

You mean the smartphone location fiasco where it was discovered that *gasp* AGPS caches data on phones, including Android, Blackberry, iPhone and WebOS? Yep. Typical internet echo chamber amplification that turned it into an attack point for fanboys who didn't actually do any research.

Apple did have one legitimate bug in the situation. The cache was in a folder marked for backup to computers, due to it living in the same location as the settings file to toggle what apps can use location data. This was fixed, and the cache was reduced. I personally preferred the old cache time, since it meant my phone found my location when I wanted it to quicker. But they bowed to the pressure from the echo chamber anyhow.

Comment Re:Doesn't Matter (Score 4, Insightful) 447

Only parts of Android are open source. Other parts, including key infrastructure pieces and the majority of apps people use that ship on the devices are closed.

And open source here is a license that doesn't require Google to disclose the source when shipping, leading to every Android Honeycomb tablet that shipped this year being a closed platform until this week.

Google has severely muddied the meaning of open and open source compared to what we are used to from the GPL and Linux worlds.

Never let your hatred of Apple, Microsoft or whoever to cloud your judgement of the companies you do cling to. Google's "open" message is eerily similar to FUD messages Microsoft was spreading in the 90s when it came to Java and "open computing". The quicker we hold these companies accountable, the quicker it improves. Getting stuck in fanboy wars and putting on the blinders helps no one.

Comment Re:Meaning... (Score 1) 179

It is, and has been for a long time. Just move on. In fact, not even sure why I came back recently. Very few people here are actually interested in real facts, too many of them are slanted towards RMS crazy land. *pssst, I hate cell phones, they are used to track you and will remotely spy on everyone. Oh, can I borrow yours to make a call?*

Comment Useful for Airplay (Score 4, Insightful) 526

Keep in mind any Airplay compatible device can use ALAC, but can't use FLAC. This includes the Airport Express units that have been out since ~2004 or so, and the newer non Apple devices with Airplay compatibility. This is likely a move to assist with 3rd parties wanting to integrate more with Airplay, as the relevant network pieces (Bonjour) are already out there in source form.

Sadly I'm sure most people here will go on and on about how it's not FLAC, and whatever. For once, just at least appreciate that Apple is continuing to throw some interesting things out to the OSS crowd instead of deciding to nitpick it to death. If you don't want to use it, thats fine. Just really tired of the nitpickery and general negative outlook geeks around here tend to have. Cheer up for once :-)

Comment Re:Purely out of curiosity (Score 5, Informative) 692

(Reply written before most other posts, was distracted by work, going to post anyhow even with some now redundant info. Hope it helps.)

Android's voice recognition is mostly a search input box, driven by voice instead of text. It's pretty clever how Google built the system, they used voice input from the old GOOG411 number to help adapt it to different languages and accents. For the most part though, it will parse what you say and do the equivalent of "I'm Feeling Lucky" on google.com.

It also does dictation for typing in notes, or other apps. Basically anywhere the keyboard will appear, voice can be used as a dictation input.

Siri is a step beyond what Google offers, due to the conversational style of input vs just basic voice commands/dictation. You can say "Joanne Moore is my mother" to Siri once. Later, saying "Text Mom that I'll be late for dinner", and Siri remembers mom = Joanne Moore, or whoever. This just scratches the surface, the other power of Siri is the capability to understand questions like "Do I need a raincoat today?". It turns that into a search of the weather at the current location, scanning the days forecast for the possibility of rain. A followup of "what about Saturday?" would cause Siri to recognize this is a followup request, and it would link it to the previous weather query. The logic is in the Siri system, not in a search engine being queried. Minor detail, and either approach can work.

Google can improve their services on Android by improving what Google.com does, and this benefitting web users as well. For Apple, they have to decide what services to tie into. Many queries in Siri are farmed out to Wolfram Alpha. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siri_(software) has more info on other services it integrates with to try and answer questions. If none of those work, it defaults to running a web search similar to Android.

Comment Re:Whoa, whoa. (Score 1) 208

*sigh* Ok, let me try to explain this more carefully for you.

A user with an iPod Touch (a device that has a WiFi radio that can detect WiFi base stations, and also use one for internet access, but no GPS chip at all) is joined to an open network at a convention. He opens Google Maps, pulling in data tiles for the area nearby, and these get cached to the devices flash memory. Also cached to the device flash memory are the latitude and longitude of all the base stations in the area, say for a 2 mile radius (just as an example).

The user then walks away from the convention center, and the iPod drops off the open WiFi network, thus the device has no active data connection. It does however have the cached map tiles, and information about other WiFi networks. Using triangulation, the iPod can still place a blue location dot on a map drawn from the cached tiles saved earlier. It's not as accurate as GPS, but possibly good enough, especially if on foot. The more WiFi access points it can see, even if they are secured, gives the device more reference points to calculate location.

Along the way, the user takes a photo of something interesting. Due to the cached WiFi data, the photo ends up having pretty accurate latitude and longitude information added to the EXIF data, assuming the user enables geotagging of their photos.

Thats the part about why this cache is useful for the iPod Touch and iPads with WiFi only, with no 3G or GPS chips inside.

Now, the second part, why not use the device saying "I'm here". I'm assuming you mean the GPS chip. A pure GPS system takes a while to lock onto a users location from a cold start, and even a warm start can take a while. GPS chips also consume a decent bit of power, especially during cold start situations and while trying to obtain a positive position lock. One way to accelerate a lock is to already have a rough idea of where the device is. This speeds up the lock as it can then figure out what the GPS constellation looks like currently, and pick up the right signals to then get a better position. I'm not going to go too in depth on how GPS works, as Wikipedia can fill you in there.

The basic point is that GPS takes a lot of power, WiFi scanning takes less power, and cell tower scanning is even less power (due to the phone already having to keep track of towers to make sure the phone part works). Using cell tower triangulation results in a pretty poor location result, due to the low density of towers. WiFi positioning can be far more accurate, due to the smaller radius of the signal, and the higher density in most cities. And GPS gives the best location since thats what it was designed to do. By balancing all three and using cached data, you can provide a user useful location information quickly, without causing too much power draw or data consumption (counting against monthly quotas, and adding latency to the location calculation).

Comment Re:The security issue is similar to others (Score 1) 208

Timestamps on any cached data serve to indicate how old it is, so that the program can decide if it's time to attempt a refresh due to the data possibly being too stale.

And more then the last few data points are for the reason Apple gave at WWDC. It's for their iOS devices that don't have constant data connections like the iPod Touch.

Don't get me wrong, I see the potential privacy issues here if my phone was lost and someone rooted around in it, and I do think this situation could be addressed to still provide the same offline benefits without the risk. I'm going to dig deeper on it this weekend, just to see how they pull down the WiFi points in particular. I want to see if searching for something in a location far away ends up causing Apple to cache WiFi points even if I haven't personally visited the area, or if it only seeds them around the location of the device.

Comment Re:iPhone drove that..... (Score 1) 298

It's possible to do it both ways. Contracts do exist for most European countries as an option, along with subsidized phones.

And sure, it's possible in the US to buy a phone then pick service, but it's a pain. Between your mentioned T-Mobile 3G issue, and the lack of price incentives with AT&T on unsubsidized plans, it's not much of a choice.

And while I don't see the GSM vs CDMA thing as an anti-consumer conspiracy, I do find it might annoying. It would have been nice to see the FCC step in and guide the market towards one standard back in the early days. By having the split setups, it's impossible for nearly every phone to roam onto another network for emergencies. One standard would have allowed the carriers to cover the landmass easier, by signing roaming agreements to cover the areas they don't specifically cover with their own equipment. Some roaming agreements do exist today between the compatible carriers, but it's far from being as good as it could be.

Thankfully the future may get better in this regard. Verizon is transitioning to LTE now, as is AT&T, and many other smaller providers. Once Verizon supports voice over LTE, then maybe we can start moving more towards the situation the EU areas have.

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