Tag Archives | GPS

A Supercar for Gadget Nerds

For my latest TIME.com column, I got to spend time with Audi’s new A7. It has a supercharged V6 engine, an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, and all-wheel drive. That’s great, but what got me excited was the Google Earth-based navigation, dual SD slots, handwriting recognition, and onboard Wi-Fi hotspot…


Mobile Location Privacy a Hot Topic on Capitol Hill

An effort to ensure consumers know how their mobile location data is being used and shared is underway on Capitol Hill, with a bipartisan bill now making its way through Congress. Called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, the bill was written by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

The bill was simultaneously introduced in both the House and Senate today.

It aims to codify how companies may use and share data, as well as giving consumers more power in consenting to such tracking. In addition, the legislation provides guidelines on how government and law enforcement may use the location data on wireless phones.

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DOJ Asking to Make iPhone-like Tracking Legal?

At a congressional hearing about complaints over phones storing the location of their users, you certainly wouldn’t expect a government agency to request such activity be made law. But that’s exactly what the Justice Department did Tuesday in Washington, D.C., asking lawmakers to consider such legislation.

The DOJ’s reasoning for it is to be able to track the whereabouts of criminals. Obviously, whether law enforcement wants to do this for sanguine reasons or not, it’s likely to ruffle the feathers of privacy advocates — and probably some in Congress.

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Apple Responds to the iOS Location-Logging Discovery

It took a week, but Apple has published questions and answers about the discovery that iOS devices keep an unencrypted file with months of data that can be used to figure out where the device has been. It does a good job of explaining what the data is (a subset of a database of Wi-Fi hotspots, some of which may be up to a hundred miles from where the device is), what it’s used for (pinpointing the device’s location more quickly than can be done with GPS alone), and why it stores so much data and does so even if you shut off location services (because it’s buggy). It also confirms that Apple can’t use the data to track you–it sees it only in anonymous, encrypted form. And it says it’s collecting anonymous traffic data for a service–built-in turn-by-turn navigation?–which it plans to release eventually.

Apple says that it’ll release an update in the next few weeks that collects less data and none at all if location services are turned off, and doesn’t back it up to iTunes. And in the next major iOS revision, it’ll encrypt the data on the device.

Was reaction to all this overblown? Yes, since some of it suggested that Apple had access to data it could use to track individual consumers, a scenario that the evidence didn’t support. But it’s important that we know what our phones know about us. The researchers who wrote about this did Apple customers a favor–and they seem to have done Apple a favor, too, by finding bugs in iOS.


TeleNav Coming to Verizon iPhone

TeleNav, my favorite iPhone navigation app, is headed to Verizon. And, unlike its AT&T brethren, it’s coming in at a reasonable price point. Assuming I make the jump in the next week or so, this will be one of my first purchases. The AT&T Navigator branded TeleNav app currently runs $10/month or $70/year, whereas an annual subscription to the new app on Verizon will run only $22. Guess that’s what happens when you take out the carrier middle man. As you might expect, this dual platform approach has raised some questions regarding carrier control and the possibility of platform “fragmentation” – which TechCrunch counters as BS. But, any way you slice it, Verizon iPhone owners will have a compelling navigation experience available to them shortly. Yet for those looking for an inexpensive or free turn-by-turn GPS app, I continue to recommend MapQuest.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)


Last Gadget Standing Finalist #10: A Hybrid Watch for Runners

What do you get when you combining Nike’s “just do it” athleticism with the GPS expertise of TomTom?  You get a running watch–and our tenth and final Last Gadget Standing finalist.

The Nike+ SportWatch GPS powered by TomTom is a hybrid gadget that  combines both GPS technology and an accelerometer, located in the Nike+ shoe sensor. Runners can upload their data to the well-regarded Nikeplus.com website, where they can track their favorite routes, set goals, receive coaching, and challenge their friends.

Key features include the GPS tracking with the shoe sensor –great for runners off trail. The tap interface activates the backlight to mark laps during a run. And the watch has a USB connector molded into the watch strap, so you can plug it directly into a computer, no cable required.  At Last Gadget Standing we’ll find out if it tells time, too.

The SportWatch GPS should hit stores in April; the price hasn’t been announced yet.


Two Ways to Find Where You’re Going–Including One With Satellite Messaging

DeLorme Earthmate

Last Gadget Standing Nominees: DeLorme Earthmate PN-60W and Earthmate PN-60

Price: $549.95 (PN-60W); $399.95 (PN-60)

The Delorme PN-60W is the first handheld GPS with Type & Send outbound text satellite messaging, enabling users to stay connected with friends, family, and emergency services, from locations around the world. They can pinpoint their position on DeLorme’s included maps of North America. If their adventures take them beyond cell phone range, they can still send their text messages to recipients’ cell phones and email addresses, and to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Fire Eagle, SpotAdventures.com, and Geocaching.com. In addition, family and friends can track a user’s progress via Google’s free online maps.

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The Facebook Phone is…Every Phone

Okay, it sounds like we can stop wondering if Facebook is about to launch a “Facebook Phone.” At this morning’s press event at Facebook headquarters, founder Mark Zuckerberg kicked things off by saying that the company has no interest in doing so. What it does want to do, he said, is to make everything more social–including all phones.

So all of today’s news involved stuff that applies to multiple existing phone platforms, and most of it was totally platform-agnostic. A quick recap after the jump.

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Garmin Users: Your GPS Might Be Recalled

Garmin has said that certain models of its nuvi line have been recalled due to a fire hazard with the non-removable battery within the device. Since the user can not easily change the battery on his/her own, the company is asking those affected to check to see if their device is affected and send to the company for repair.

Only 10 devices within these models have so far been confirmed to have the actual problem, however Garmin has decided to recall all possibly affected devices as a safety precaution. The exact cause of the overheating issue — which leads to the possibility of the device catching fire — is not known.

The issue affects the following models:

  • Garmin 200W
  • Garmin 250W and 260W
  • Garmin 7xxW series (the xx is a two digit number)

Garmin has set up a special website to see if your nuvi device is affected, and its estimated about 765,000 units were sold that potentially could be part of the recall.

Users who attempt the repair on their own would void their warranty. The battery, as well as a spacer to prevent any future overheating issues would be installed by Garmin for those devices returned through recall. It appears the original devices would be returned to their owners, and not replaced with brand new models.


One Big Reason Why Facebook Places Beats Foursquare: Clarity of Identity

So Facebook has begun rolling out Places, its answer to Foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown, and every other mobile service that lets you broadcast your location by checking into local businesses and other locations. So far, I have only partial access: I can see friends who have checked in, but can’t check in myself.

Until now, the location service I’ve used most often has been Foursquare. I have fun with it. But I’ve also found it frustrating in one major way which I believe Places will address–it’s often unclear just who people on Foursquare are.

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