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back to article Google and Apple locked horns over iPhone location data

In 2008, as Apple fought Google's efforts to collect user-location data from iPhones via its Google Maps service, the battle between two of the companies' top execs escalated to the point where CEOs Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt personally intervened to resolve the argument, according reports citing unnamed sources. In a profile …

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Unhappy

Geolocation

Which company do you think would be the first to hand over real time geo-location info to the FBI & CIA were there ever a civil revolt in the USA (or elsewhere)? The black shirts amongst the 'security forces' must drool over the possibility of locating dissidents to within a few meters and a few minutes or seconds.

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Grenade

Get REAL...

Do you realize how foolish you sound?

Get real. You don't need any GPS location to find you, they can triangulate your position based on your phone being turned on and from the phone company's cell towers.

If your point was to suggest that either or both companies would turn over that data in a state of declared emergency? The answer is both.

If you're asking which company is more evil? Google. Why? Because they have the motto "Do no evil."

Don't 'cha know that the greatest trick the Devil every played was convincing people that he didn't exist?

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Paris Hilton

@ Ian Michael Gumby

<quote>Don't 'cha know that the greatest trick the Devil every played was convincing people that he didn't exist?</quote>

So, the Devil is a bit like your intellect then?

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Jobs Horns

@ Gumby

Cell tower triangulation is nowhere near as accurate as GPS when it comes to locating people, especially in non urban areas with lower tower density.

Given the choice, a live feed of gps data wins hands down.

Both companies, being 'merkins in the land of the free are bound by the patroit act to hand it all over. Freedom comes at a high price in the land of the free.

The greatest trick the devil played was to convince people he should decide what they install on the phones they have purchased!

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Boffin

@nsid

The initial OP stated: "Which company do you think would be the first to hand over real time geo-location info to the FBI & CIA were there ever a civil revolt in the USA (or elsewhere)?"

My point is that you don't need GPS because triangulation of your cell signal from cell towers is accurate enough.

Now if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty... If the guvmint was 'after you', if you're in the countryside (open fields), they will be able to find you from your cell phone via cell tower triangulation.

But if you really want to be accurate...

Cell companies already get the gps location so the OP's initial daft question is a nonstarter. Your telco will hand that data over under a LE. Oh and its not the CIA, but FBI in the US and NSA outside of the US.

I could give you a long lecture on the variables that effect your GPS accuracy. Also if you consider one of the reasons why Google was slurping Wi-Fi locations... You'll understand that for LBS (Location Based Services) for pedestrian traffic require more accuracy than you can get with GPS alone.

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FAIL

@ Gumby

Not sure why your quoting the OP post, I was responding to your reply.

GPS to an accuracy of 10 metres versus "triangulation" in an area with low mast density, I would take GPS data every time for accuracy. You need more than one mast to triangulate, if your have masts 1000 metres apart which cross at the 800m radius then the nearest you can plot them to using triangulation is 801 metres which gives a pretty large search area as it can be anywhere within the 799 metre radius only covered by one mast.

Not sure why your quoting different agencies, the patriot act is not agency specific and is written in such a way that any law enforcement agency can use it to ask any company for data.

As for your final comment, the more data points you have to work with the more accurately you can locate something, but using wifi and other location points is very different to your original post about cell tower triangulation isnt it?

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Grenade

Gumby fail

Gumby, what is it about a triangle that you do not understand? If you are in the middle of nowhere in line of site of a single cell tower, there is nothing to triangulate. You could be hiding anywhere in a 10 km radius, signal strength wouldn't even give an accurate distance to the tower. GPS tracking, on the other hand, would still allow the Reaper loitering overhead to put a Hellfire missile within a couple of meters of your current position.

I recommend you avoid using the boffin icon in the future.

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WTF?

Competition is healthy and the American Way!

Vic Gundotra, of Google, once said: "... a draconian future where one man, one company, and one device would be our only choice. … That's a future we don't want."

It's healthy to have competition - imagine the market place if there was only a single smartphone - would there be an incentive to innovate, to improve, to make different coloured cases?

The answer is no. We would be back to the early 1900's where Ford said they can have any colour as long as it is black.

The ferocity of the 'war' between the Android and iOS factions is healthy, even that conservative old familiar RIM had to get off it's duff and actually add colour screens.

In North America, although not China, Apple was one of the first to mass market pads/tablets (Fujitsu and Panasonic were the first out with heavy duty units). MS had one but was it ever sold. Apple is back where it has traditionally been - a market opening innovator but drops the ball by building a Walled Garden.

The one disturbing thing about smartphones is that OS writers - even maybe manufacturers - collect data that is really intrusive in peoples lives. We, the user, are also entitled to the big 'off' switch. The FCC mandated that GPS modules be incorporated into cell telephones.

I had my non-smartphone module disabled - where I am can be determined well enough by using cell data from the operator. My employer does subscribe to a satellite based geo-location system ( the 'toy' in this market is Spot which requires an annual fee) which is effective world-wide and has no annual fee, but I have no problem with this during working hours or if I am in a remote location. If, however, I want to visit the Hard Rock cafe or The Apocalypse Now bar (heaven forbid) it is no ones business - except possibly my wife's.

Users are entitled to determine who gets what information - and I could care less who wants to get it's hands on it - my data is mine. Period. And, in my case, I take sufficient precautions including using alternative SIMs.

Pagers and GPS receivers have one great benefit - they are essentially one way devices.

These days even credit cards are used as geo-locators with the FBI getting real time reports on card usage.

Who will be the first to add the no-location option?

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Megaphone

FYI

I haven't used an iPhone so I cannot comment on it - but I do have a HTC Desire and can quite happily inform you that Android at least has an option to switch off both GPS and WiFi Location.

Obviously apps that depend on your location data to work will complain and be next to useless but other than that if you switch location data off - it stays off until you switch it back on again.

As I said I haven't used an "i" device but I suspect it too probably features an option to switch off Location data.

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Boffin

@ Andrew Jones...

Uhm not exactly.

You can turn off Wi-Fi, You can turn off having your GPS being reported to apps, however if your cell radio is on, the phone companies will have access to your GPS. (Its actually a requirement if you have a GPS enabled phone. At least in the US. It has to do with 911 calls being able to find you in the event you call in an emergency.)

The only time your GPS is 'off' is when your phone is turned off or if your phone has an 'Airplane' mode where the radio/wi-fi are turned off.

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Black Helicopters

IMEI of the phone allows tracking independently of SIM

"I take sufficient precautions including using alternative SIMs"

changing the SIM doesn't change the IMEI, so you phone can still be tracked regardless of which SIM and network you use; it does make it trickier though.

in fact, if I were a government operative looking for suspicious behaviour I would correlate registration requests across different carriers of the same phone using a different SIM, as a frequent sim-changer is likely to be a terrorist or paedo!!!

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FAIL

Errr bad example....

..It's healthy to have competition...... would there be an incentive to innovate, to improve, to make different coloured cases?

The answer is no. We would be back to the early 1900's where Ford said they can have any colour as long as it is black.

Err would that be the quote about the same model that revolutionised the way cars were made?

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WTF?

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!

Noooooo.... its "I ***COULDN"T*** CARE LESS"... I could care less implies that if people want your friggin' data they can have it which I know is not what you meant.

I couldnt care less

I couldnt care less

I couldnt care less

(I feel like Bart Simpson on this one).

Oooooh that annoys me more than any other typo/grammer error!!! Okay, sorry Sarah, I'll go back to sleep now.

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Calm down

I couldn't care less = I don't care

I could care less = I do care

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Headmaster

That

along with replacing "thing" with "think"

What are you doing? Oh, nothink!

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Headmaster

Wrong icon

fixed that for you.

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As if I could care less.

Now drop the "as if". Mystery solved, everyone go back to sleep.

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Paris Hilton

Ok

"I could care less" = "I do care some, but I could care even less ... but there is a measure of caring"

"I couldn't care less" = "I could not care any less than I do now, i.e. I'm at zero caring and since zero is the absolute bottom, I simply can't go any lower in my lack of caring".

So there.

Paris because Paris cares ... at least about herself and her dog.

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Thumb Up

Exactly right!

I could NOT care less

i.e. there is nowehere on the 'caring scale' where I could go to care less about something. I am at 0.00000000000000000 (ad infinitum) of 'caring'

If, I could care less then I could be at 99/100 on the caring scale. In other words I would care (wuite a lot in this example) yet it would be possible for me to care less.

Why do Americans think their way makes sense?

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Headmaster

Nothink could be what they mean...

Brain in neutral.

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Anonymous Coward

But...

"I couldnt care less

...

Oooooh that annoys me more than any other typo/grammer error!!! "

If you are going to complain about other people, make sure you don't forget your apostrophe's.

(Yes, I deliberately put that one in as a joke.)

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iphone is already beat

With is protectionalist attitude and censored marketplace - not to mention slow and dull devices, iphone already lost to open-source android..

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Gold badge

LOL

Slow and dull? Yeah right. Good look with that. Apple is one of the leaders in industrial design, HTC phones look cheap and tacky in comparison.

If Android is so open why can't you create an application in any language you wish? it's not as open as a Linux machine should be. Everything has to run on the Dalvik VM.

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Thumb Down

eh?

> If Android is so open why can't you create an application in any language you wish?

Write one if you want, nothing stopping you like there is on iOS

> it's not as open as a Linux machine should be.

In what ways do you want it more open, or in what ways is it not open?

> Everything has to run on the Dalvik VM.

You sure about that or is this a comment not based on an understanding of what you are talking about?

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Jobs Horns

If it is beat then why...

is absolutely everything equipped with a GD iphone dock?

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Thumb Down

Huh?

"iphone already lost to open-source android"

Somehow I think Apple is probably quite happy with selling 4m+ units a month.

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Troll

@ Chris 244

<quote>If it is beat then why is absolutely everything equipped with a GD iphone dock?</quote>

Because it looks good on product-feature ticklists devised by coke-addled marketing twunts.

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Boffin

I refuse to enoble a simple forum post....

strictly speaking I think things are equiped with ipod/nano/shuffle/phone docks rather than specific iPhone docks...

Although I could be wrong never really having been a party to the whole iDevice thing.

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Headmaster

"Good look with that."

Spelling test? Good luck with that.

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Glad to know SOME

body is having a good sex life. As long as 1s, 0s, and razor blades are left out of the bedroom...

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WTF?

Location location location

Am I the only one who turns off WiFi and GPS when I'm not specifically wanting to use them?

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Turn it off or not

If you want to do something and not be located, don't carry a phone, iPhone, Android, whatever. Yeah, old-fashioned triangulation depends on the circumstances but can be amazingly precise. And if they're really after you there are other ways to pinpoint your location using your cellphone, even without GPS turned on, even with your phone seemingly (but not really) off. If they're good enough to have a missile homing in on a car with someone carrying an old Nokia phone in the middle of a desert you surely won't get away with using an Android phone with GPS switched off.

And switching WiFi and GPS off and on manually is so 20th century anyway. If your phone has a power management that relies on you doing this there is obviously not much of management going on. Smartphones should be optimized for practical use and not for civil war, I think. If you want to prepare for that instead, wire in a switch that allows you to really switch off the power from the battery. Everything else if futile anyway.

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FAIL

@Giles Jones

Stop spreading crap...

You can write an app using any language you want on Android, just the UI will need to run in the VM. And expect to fix any compatibility issues yourself (native code support on a whole range of targets with several different ARM revisions around).

Have you ever written code to run on Android? Bet you haven' t, so shut up.

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Linux

Developing for Android first, I-phone maybe.

Reasons being:

1. More Androids out there.

2. Much cheaper Androids exist.

3. I don't need anyone else's approval before users can install my application on Android.

However, if anyone in my potential user community wants to port it to the I-phone (or RIM etc.) and is willing to jump through whatever hoops are needed to get Apple approval for the app, the GPL source code will be available to help, and hopefully it will be possible to include the port within the mainstream source distribution so all versions can be kept compatible.

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What's an "I-phone"?

Before you try to develop for one, you should find out its actual name

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