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back to article Apple plan to rate shops etc by number of iPhones visiting

Apple has patented software that will automatically log the visits of iPhone users to restaurants, stores and business and then use the number of visits by Jesus-mobe owners as an indication of how good/popular/worthy-of-a-high-search-ranking that business is. We've known Apple logged our location before, but this is the first …

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Anonymous Coward

Location Services off?

I always have location services off. Does Apple have a back door or does location services need to be on for this snoop to work?

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Good question..

I'd like to know the answer too. Also why should I have to turn off a useful feature just to retain my privacy? How easy / hard will it be to opt out, and what does 'opting out' entail? Does it mean the data will not be gathered, or just that gathered data will not be used for marketing? Quibbles about privacy and anonymity, see my post below..

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Black Helicopters

Possibly

The only thing I can think of is that there might be something going on with the 911 requirements for cell phones.

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Anonymous Coward

iOS5 includes more options with regards to location sharing/features.

Individual "systems services" can be turned off including "Diagnostics and Usage" among location based adverts, traffic, compass calibration etc and ofc individual apps.

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Thumb Down

Improving search methods belongs in an engineering lab where results can be objectively verified, not by using all of their customers to gather data for the commercial purpose of rating businesses. For the most part, the vast majority of Iphone users are not aware that this is occurring without their consent. I am sure that most Register readers are aware, but how many Iphone owners are there that don't read the Register?

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Coat

Welcome to Chez la Traq...

..Mr. iPhone owner, who's name eludes me right now. Would you like your regular table, the east facing one that overlooks the Virgin Mobile 3G tower?...

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jai
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great for users, not so good for companies that advertise?

am thinking that, for the end user, this will be great as it'll increase the chances of your search returning a useful result.

but for companies, unless they're the big popular franchises, their hit rates will drop.

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Anonymous Coward

So, if you have an iThing, it will be easy to find a place full of other iThing users.

Now an iNeed is something that will tell me the places the iPeople do not go.

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Devil

Great? Me think not... Actually I take that back

Prague, conference this year.

3 restaurants found by my dear colleagues using iPhone - all hideous rip off, food substandard (by czech standards) in 2 out of 3, crap service in 1 out of 3.

2 restaurants found on foot using standards methods of "good booze and food" location - cheap as chips, food superb, service superb too. It took a considerable amount of time to make the iPhone users abstain from using the slabs to locate these and some abstained from entering a venue that was not "blessed" in an iPhone app...

From a first glimpse, wrong type of positive feedback and reinforcing crap choice. Bad for users... Second thought: "Fool and his money will soon be parted". We should let the shiny-shiny brigade stick to their shiny-shiny. Better for the rest of us who are not so lazy to walk down a street in an unknown city and look around for a good place to eat, shop, stay, etc.

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WTF?

Ensure anonymity by assigning users a unique ID number.

Ensuring anonymity through the assignment of uniquely identifiable information? Clever...

Also, doesn't this mean that your local Apple Store, loaded to the gills with iPhones 24/7, will instantly be the highest ranking mobile retailer, electronic goods store, computer shop and tech support place??

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Silver badge

Yep, this is still a title.

And that's just an added bonus.

On the plus side, that freighter crossing the Pacific ocean delivering the iPhone 5's will be the hottest location on the planet...after the FoxConn factory complex.

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They could also use this service

to figure out how strong the espresso is by how much faster you walk after you leave the coffee shop.

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Anonymous Coward

Just makes you want to spoof an iPhone or perhaps 100's of them and update the location data to favor some strange places, perhaps repeat visits to a lap dancing bar, crematorium, MP's office, parliament, the local council, red light district, M15, The Pentagon, oh you get it an eclectic mix of locations that could be seen as members of the government being interested in a strange mix of things.

V for Vendetta, seems appropriate.

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Anonymous Coward

Brill

Then I'll know how to avoid going to the same places as all the fan boyz and sheep

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Thumb Up

Re "Brill" Indeed. In fact it is an major business opportunity for a smart dev......

.....to develop a "you can't stand the iPhone crowd?" app. Install our app and you can make sure that you avoid them.

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Big Brother

Will they be in gay bars?

Or will Apples servers not be able to handle such massive volumes of traffic?

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Bronze badge

Ah, the old pathetic Apple user = Homosexual comment! How very imature of you, you must be very proud of yourself!

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Gimp

Oooh, get her!

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

At the time of posting 11 people have upvoted your homophobic shite and only three people have downvoted it, this saddens me.

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Anonymous Coward

Do you even know what homophobic means? Unless of course you are being ironic and mean it's an insult to the gay community by associating them with iPhones, I know I'd be insulted if someone assumed I had an iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I know what homophobic means, I'm bisexual and have a lot of gay/bi friends who wouldn't be massively offended by your comment but would probably call you a few names for coming out with something like that... Suggesting that you've got to be gay to use an iPhone, or implying that a disproportionate amount of gay people use the iPhone as you did would be casually homophobic.

It's all part of a general rise in people using comments like X Y Z is gay, meaning that X Y Z is bad. It's unpleasant and needs to be stamped out.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Err

Apologies then cause I've been desensitised about it use, the gay friends I have tend to take the piss when it's been used rather than get offended. Horses for courses I suppose...

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Opt out?

Yet to see any of these sinister data-harvesting schemes have the decency to operate on an opt-IN basis.

And yes, I know it's because there would only be a handful of people enrolled, but still...

As for a UniqueId providing anonymity - erm hello, it's *unique* and tied to the movements of an *individual*.

For details of how that strips away any anonymity when coupled with other seemingly harmless data, ask the chaps who released the AOL search logs.

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Re: Opt out

>> "For details of how that strips away any anonymity when coupled with other seemingly harmless data, ask the chaps who released the AOL search logs."

Ah, but that's the trick, innit?

What if Apple were actually generating a unique identifier, sending it to the device, and then completely eradicating any additional information connected to the account, individual, or device, in a way that would make it impossible to correlate them?

I believe this is what they are *claiming* to do, and if so, it *is* indeed anonymous. Just because it is profitable to be unscrupulous by tracking all that information and selling it does not necessarily imply that it will be done.

However, it all then boils down to one single question: How much do you trust Apple?

-dZ.

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very funny

If you track someones location then you can track where they live, work, go to school, etc. If you think that isn't personally identifiable then I really don't know what the hell might be but never mind.

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FAIL

DZ - RU serious?

iPhone #1234567 spends every* night at 890 Anon Street. Can't see how that unique number could possibly be connected to a unique individual.

*except when it receives a 3 a.m. SMS from iPhone #76543321, at which time it climbs out a back window and hops the fence across the lane to visit said uniquely anon iFriend for ~30 minutes.

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Happy

I'm of to the patent office...

I'm off to patent iPhone chargers for shops.

Let your customers charge for free and increase your search rank (due to lots of iPhone users)

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WTF?

Seriously?

Sorting data on slightly different criteria is patent-able?

Also, I can't see how this can work well. If you're in a shop, you probably won't have a GPS signal, so it will only be basing your location on cell towers. I'm pretty sure that isn't accurate enough to pinpoint an individual shop, so does that mean that a butcher's shop next to the Apple shop which is 2 miles away from where I am will end up ranking higher in the search results than the butcher I'm standing outside?

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In the US yes

I'm surprid that someone hasn't patented going to the toilet yet. I the US you can patent just about anything. Hell they were going to allow patenting of the human genome and specific genetics a while back. Prior art and information in the public domain mean nothing over there until it is challenged in court. Hence apple have a patent for a tblet that look very much like tablets more than 5 years before the ipad launche - don't tell the Mac fanboys though, they may not like it. In case no one knows what I mean try looking at the HP tc1100 and the Samsung Q1 - apparently not similar enough to invalidate a patent for something that is basically thinner and a slightly different frontal area, how different for the tc1100 beats me but not by much.

Anyway I plan to patent the human in the US one day, see if they allow it.

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Silver badge

Agreed

The US patent system is so broken it is quite pathetic. Sadly the patent for a method of swinging on a swing had its claims canceled under reexamination but the fact that one could be issued a patent for how to swing on a swing pretty much tells the story doesn't it?

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Silver badge

Can I get an inverse ranking?

I'd like to have a ranking which puts places with many iOS users who voluntarily give out private information below the places where those people aren't. That would be a feature.

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Anonymous Coward

What if?

"...what if Apple decides to sell this information off?"

That seems a big if.

Does Apple the money that badly? At the moment, its business model is based on customers buying kit, rather than flogging off data about them - if it decided to reverse, then there would be many unhappy punters.

Also, one reason that some publishers don't like the way Apple is handling in-app magazine subsriptions, is that it will only pass on data with the user's permission. Rather than cede this point to the publishers and change its user T&Cs, Apple has dug its heels in.

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Facepalm

You do realise, now you've told us, your invention is in the public domain and is no longer patentable.

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Anonymous Coward

Recomendations?

How is this any kind of recommendation? I think I will start recommending roads based on the number of inatentive iPhone and iPod users run over!

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Unhappy

Working for Apple?

Of course this is all to enhance the user experience, create synergy between brands blah blah blah... nothing to do with making a shitpile of cash for a company who already have more in the bank than the US government.

I don't care if this is anonymised - they don't seem to grasp that this isn't the issue. There is A) the principle that once you kick the privacy door off its latch, it's very easy to boot it wide open. B) The fact that I don't want to work for fucking Apple. By helping to make them money through the sale of my usage / location information, I feel like I'm being co-opted. They already treat other businesses (like the music, publishing and software industries), as cash cows to be milked until they dry out. It's starting to appear this isn't enough for them and their grubby fingers are making a grab for their own users.

I'm an iPhone user, and I think it's a great product, but it's heading for the bin if this crap continues.

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remiinds me of Minority Report

shudders

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Minority report...

It reminds me of 1984 and Brave New World. Only in this case it involves the population actually shelling out some of their hard earned to voluntarily/unwittingly participate in this tracking operation. I think this type of activity could well be used by Nokia as a reason NOT to buy a Jesus phone.

Suddenly the Nokia/Microsoft deal has a whole lot more appeal.

One wonders if Apple are sponsored by any of the intelligence agencies?

The real defect in the plan is that the data indicates attendance, not the user experience. The system should track how many return visits, which would involve the possibility of privacy violations. 1984 here we come!

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Thumb Up

"Apple have made sure they are the only ones authorised to use the users' unique IDs"

That's good, I'd hate for my personal location data to fall into the hands of a large, greedy, multinational corporation...

...hold on a minute...

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Just one more reason

to keep my dumb phone.

Actually, it's getting to the point where I'm just watching in bemusement as The World(tm) sails right by me. I'll probably be ready to pick out a mountaintop soon...

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interestingly Googley move

I wonder if Apple even intends to implement this or if this patent is mostly to screw with Google. As for the unique ID providing anonymity, I'd much prefer it if the ID reset on a daily or weekly basis - it can be pseudo-randomly generated so that my device truly is anonymous.

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WTF?

yup... it's just a patent, not an implementation

This is the best point made, so far. The stupid thing about this article is that it's written from the perspective that Apple has already implemented this technology. But Apple (like any other company) owns a mountain of patents that will never see the light of day. This is probably one of them...

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Anonymous Coward

So long as someone uses this data to give me a ranking of places that iDrones frequent so I can avoid them, I don't see a problem with this.

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Windows

Welcome to your new hermit lifestyle then...iphone ubiquity is gonna be around for a while yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Poundland anyone?

Lets nick \ trick the iphones user to go to poundland

That'll confuse them and stop them from "being cool"

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Yet another reason ...

Yet another reason to stay clear of iWidgets.

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Anonymous Coward

This is perfect!

I hope they implement it soon so I can do a study to calculate the most probable bar the iPhone 6 will be lost in. Ho ho, won't they be in for a surprise when I find the lost prototype, zip it into a metalized pouch and immediately board a plane for South Korea and deliver it personally to the CEO of Samsung. Just think, I'll demand 1 meellion won and Samsung will be happy to pay so they can get an iPhone 6 to market faster than Apple and will be able to claim Apple copied them. Muahahahahahah!

No Dr. Evil icon? Ok, V for anonymous will do and it will thwart the fruit police! Muahahahahaha!

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Nice idea...

But will be f* all use if Apple wins the patent war; many of the patents in iPhone 4/5/iPad will be in 6 as well. Samung would be able to copy it all it likes, but Apple would just go back to court again, even if samsung got their version out first.

However, board layouts, components, internal packaging, materials etc would all still be useful, and likely to be useful intelligence. Why copy, when you can use this info to jump ahead?

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Bronze badge

Craven and...

No surprise.... Earlier this year, I suggested that apple execs wet their pants in ecstasy creaming over the crop of iphones on their master plot board. But, really, how the hell is this worthy of a patent? The uspto is craven and f*cked...

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Bronze badge

Missing iphone?

This probably means apple is using hidden and open tricks to not only tally icream zones, but to hunt down specific iphones

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Joke

How many confessional boxes will show up in those reports?

Blast me Father, for I have sinned! I have endguaged in idolatry, gluttony, lust, greed, and sinful thoughts and deified a male for the products His... Forgive me, his company created. I gave more to his cultporation than to charity. I have purchased more phone skins than I have taken Holy Communion... He gets more of my time per day than you... Forgive me, You have gotten out of me in my entire lifetime. Oh, Lord, wait one... I have an appountment at the Users Group.

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