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Now if you think that high-end crime involving city ports, boats, crime circles, black markets, and Ferraris are things you only see on the big screen, think again.

The owner of a high-end rental car company based on Los Angeles noticed that his Ferrari 458 Italia was sitting still for a few days. Growing suspicious, we got the police involved and the last known location of the car, tracked via GPS.

The police finally caught up with the car in Hong Kong, and found that the Ferrari wasn’t alone in transit. A bunch of high priced vehicles were all heading over to the Asian black market where they can fetch a price twice the value of the car. This still comes out cheaper, since the buyer avoid taxes and fees. More details in the video above as CBS reports on the story.

Read More | AutoBlog

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OnStar is ready to roll out their Family Link Tracking system. The system will be available to the masses at the end of the year, after OnStar has been talking about the system for a year or so already. Surprisingly enough, the system doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but only a measly $4 a month on top of an OnStar plan.

The system isn’t designed to give you minute-to-minute, real-time updates, but updates the family members in 20 second intervals or so. Instead, its purpose is to keep track of your vehicle and the location of it, and possibly keeping tabs on your kids as they’re behind the wheel. Check out the video above for a detailed look and see how it works!

Read More | Engadget

telenav html5 gps

TeleNav, the GPS software company, has unveiled a browser-based HTML5 app that will deliver voice-enabled, turn-by-turn GPS navigation on almost any mobile device—and that other sites can call up with a single line of code.

The concept behind the app is similar to that of Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader: You input the URL and then run TeleNav from within a browser, without installing a native app first. An added benefit: TeleNav can continuously update the service over time whenever it wants, without inconveniencing consumers with periodic software updates.

In an e-mail to us, Mary Beth Lowell, TeleNav's associate director of public relations, confirmed that the HTML5-based app will tap into each device's GPS chip. The combination puts it several leagues ahead of Google Maps, which provides directions without voice prompts, meaning you can also use it in a car while behind the wheel, since you don't have to look at the screen for the next step.

"For example, if I'm in a travel app and I'm looking at my hotel address, I could click on the address and get full voice-guided TBT [turn-by-turn] directions to the hotel," Lowell said. "I wouldn't need to be a TeleNav customer or even download an app."

Click to continue reading TeleNav shows off HTML5-powered GPS app


iOS 4.3.3

Apple just released iOS 4.3.3, an update aimed to fix the location tracking issue that raised a bunch of concerns over the last couple of weeks. With this update, the consolidated.db database that stores the location data will be reduced in size, and that database will no longer be backed up to iTunes. In addition, if you turn Location Services off, the cache gets deleted entirely. Plug your iPhone in and have iTunes check for the update when you get a chance--jailbreakers, you'll wanna wait until there's a compatible fix.


tomtom traffic data

TomTom has apologized for selling user data from personal navigation devices to police.

It wasn't exactly a surprise. When Netherlands-based TomTom reported weak first quarter earnings earlier this year, it said it would try to supplement earnings through certain methods like selling traffic data to governments.

But when Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad revealed that the information was obtained by Dutch police, who used it set targeted speed traps, people got upset.

But TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said the company only had the best of intentions, because the company believes it "can help make roads safer and less congested."

Click to continue reading TomTom apologizes for selling your traffic data to law enforcement


Apple traffic database

Buried in Apple's statement on how the iPhone tracks a user's location data, the company admitted it was collecting anonymous location information to create a "crowd-sourced traffic database" that will be part of a future "improved traffic service."

The thing is, there's already a traffic service on the iPhone, provided by Google. If a user launches the Maps app and selects "Show Traffic," the map overlays colors on roads that show traffic congestion. Google gets the traffic data by—surprise!—crowd-sourcing it, aggregating information from Google Maps users who have approved the app for location services on their mobile devices.

Apple's statement reveals that the company is working on its own version of such a service. Whether that service will be something that Apple will use to improve traffic in Google Maps, or if Apple will launch a competing maps app, or something else entirely isn't known. Apple didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on the topic.

Click to continue reading Okay, what’s up with Apple creating its own traffic database?


iphone location tracking

Today Apple released a Q&A about the location data that's stored on the iPhone. In the statement, the company says broadly that it does not track the iPhone's location, and that the data, which is currently stored in an unprotected file, will be encrypted in the next major update of iOS.

In the statement, Apple admits that iPhones send location data to Apple to maintain a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell phone towers, as many have suspected. However, the company says the locations recorded can be up to 100 miles away from the where the phone actually is, and that the data is sent anonymously.

Apple further explains that it's creating the database to provide better location services on the phone. By using the crowd-sourced locations of cell towers and hotspots, the phone can more quickly locate the user than if it were using GPS satellite data alone. Putting the entire database on every user's phone would be untenable, though, so an iPhone requesting location services accesses a subset, or cache, of the database. It's this data, not necessarily data specifically generated by the user, that's stored in the unencrypted file, "consolidated.db."

At the same time, though, the company effectively admits that retaining such a lengthy and comprehensive location record on the phone—ever since the user upgraded to iOS 4, or about a year for most users—is unnecessary to maintain such a database. Also, backing the file up to a user's computer is clearly not needed either. Apple says it plans to do four things in the next major update of iOS:

Click to continue reading Apple finally addresses iPhone location tracking, promises to encrypt data


Windows Phone 7 location data

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows Phones don't store location history in a manner similar to the iPhone, which records the location data in an unencrypted file. The news that some iOS devices keep location data came to light last week, although Apple warns users of the practice (if not the precise methods) in the fine print of the phone's terms of service.

Microsoft told us unequivocally that phones running Windows Phone 7 do not store location history. Like most other phones, the platform offers plenty of location-based apps, and those apps require user consent before they begin tracking. Windows Phones also offer the common feature of a "global switch" that lets the user disable all location services, and Microsoft says its "Find My Phone" service keeps only the phone's most recent location.

We also contacted Nokia, RIM, Google, and HP about how the companies' mobile platforms store location data, and none, save Microsoft, have responded. It's been confirmed independently that Google Android also tracks and stores location data.

Click to continue reading Microsoft says Windows Phones don’t store location history


iPhone location tracking

Did you know that Apple is tracking your every move with your iPhone and iPad? A blog post published today on O'Reilly Radar claims that devices running iOS 4 are gathering location and storing it in an unencrypted manner.

"What makes this issue worse is that the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device. It can also be easily accessed on the device itself if it falls into the wrong hands. Anybody with access to this file knows where you've been over the last year, since iOS 4 was released," wrote Pete Warden, founder of the Data Science Toolkit, and Alasdair Allan, a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter.

The data is being stored to a file known as "consolidated.db," which includes latitude-longitude coordinates and a timestamp.

Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone who read the entire 45-page EULA, as it clearly states the following clause when going into detail on the type of “non-personal information” that Apple can “collect, use, transfer, and disclose … for any purpose.”

We may collect information such as occupation, language, zip code, area code, unique device identifier, location, and the time zone where an Apple product is used so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising.
What that means is that Apple made it clear (or, as clear as you can make it when buried in the middle of a lengthy privacy policy) that it would be doing this, and we've all agreed to it.

Click to continue reading You gave Apple permission to track your whereabouts via your iPhone


When Google talks, people listen. That is why 3,000 people crowded into a ballroom on the first day of SXSW to hear Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of consumer services, give her keynote. Her talk focused mostly on Google Maps for Mobile, and didn't do much more than outline the new features on the service. Even so, it should give serious pause to all of the companies currently offering location-based services, from Yelp to Foursquare. And it should give dedicated GPS vendors nightmares.

Google Mobile for Maps recently hit more than 150 million users, adding more than 50 million users since last summer. "Forty percent of all Maps usage is mobile," Mayer said. In fact, there have been days this year where mobile usage was actually greater than the desktop usage for the application.

Google Maps has always had driving directions, but by adding Street View and turn-by-turn navigation, it is fast becoming the go-to source for directions. "People drive more than 35 million miles a day while being assisted by Google Maps Navigation," Mayer said.

And those directions are becoming much more dynamic. The Route Around feature, for example, presents users with three routes to a destination and then overlays current traffic patterns. Users can select the route with the least traffic; Google said recently that Android users have the option to be automatically routed around traffic jams. This kind of real-time traffic advice is something for which GPS vendors like Garmin and Magellan traditionally charge users a monthly fee—Google offers it for free.

According to Mayer, the Route Around feature saves users two years of drive time every day, or about 12 million miles per year.

Click to continue reading Marissa Mayer talks up Google’s location dominance at SXSW


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