Tag Archives: Tracking

96% of iOS Users in the U.S. Opted-Out of App Tracking



Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 included the ability for users to opt-out of allowing apps to track them. Ars Technica reported that 96% of iOS users in the United States chose to opt-out of tracking. This news should surprise no one, because it is well known that people use ad blockers and VPNs to avoid being tracked.

The information about the percentage of users in the United States who chose to opt-out of app tracking comes from a company called Flurry Analytics. It is owned by Verizon Media. Flurry is updating that data daily.

Until now, apps have been able to rely on Apple’s Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) to track users for targeting and advertising purposes. With the launch of iOS 14.5 this week, mobile apps now have to ask users who have upgraded to iOS 14.5 for permission to gather tracking data. With opt-in rates expected to be low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile advertising industry worldwide.

Ars Technica reported that Flurry Analytics says U.S. users agree to be tracked only four percent of the time. The global number of users deciding to opt-in to tracking is at twelve percent. That number is below some advertising companies’ estimates.

Predictably, the news appears to be alarming to companies like Facebook who heavily rely on tracking and data collection from users for the purpose of showing ads to users. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature does allow Facebook (and other companies that track people) to provide a brief explanation about why they absolutely need to keep grabbing your data. Clearly, those explanations are falling flat as most users opt out of tracking.


The Apps On Your Phone Are Tracking You



We put apps on our phones for many reasons. Some apps are useful – they tell us the weather, the pollen count, and the latest news. Other apps allow us to post things from our phones to social media. The New York Times reported that the apps on your phone are tracking you. Or, more correctly, the marketing industry is tracking you through those apps.

The New York Times received a data set from a source who is being kept anonymous. The data set “followed the smartphones of thousands of Trump supporters, rioters, and passers-by in Washington, D.C., on January 6, as Donald Trump’s political rally turned into a violent insurrection.”

According to The New York Times, the data they were given included about 100,000 location pings for thousands of smartphones, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol exactly when Trump supporters were storming the building. About 40 percent of the phones tracked near the rally stage on the National Mall during the speeches were also found in and around the Capitol during the siege – which The New York Times said was “a clear link between those who’d listened to the president and his allies and then marched on the building.” There were no names or phone numbers in the data.

How is this happening? According to The New York Times, it is because of the unique ID that is tied to a smartphone.

The IDs, called mobile advertising identifiers, allow companies to track people across the internet and on apps. They are supposed to be anonymous, and smartphone owners can reset them or disable them entirely. Our findings show the promise of anonymity is a farce. Several companies offer tools to allow anyone with data to match the IDs with other databases.

No matter what your opinion of the people who converged at the Capitol, you should be concerned about how much data is being taken from your smartphone by the “location-tracking industry” (as The New York Times calls them). Location data can be deanonymized. The data set examined by The New York Times included information harvested from phones of “rioters, police officers, lawmakers, and passers-by”.

Based on this, it seems to me that there should be some legislative effort put into stopping the “location-tracking industry” from freely grabbing as much data as they desire. There is a risk that a police officer could wrongly discern this type of data to accuse an innocent person of a crime. According to the New York Times, some location data is accurate to within a few feet, other data is not.


Chipolo Tracker at Wearable Tech Show



ChipoloThe Bluetooth tracker tag market is busy at the moment with several players making a name for themselves. Into the fray steps Chipolo, another ex-Kickstarter project, with their colourful tags. Andrew asks Nika and Katja what makes Chipolo different?

Much like other tracker tags, the Chipolo tag is paired with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth LE. The Chipolo item finder app keeps track of where and when the phone was last in touch with the tag. If you can’t find the tag, but it’s in range, the tag can ring to help you find it. The reverse is true too. Shake the tag and your phone will ring.

The Chipolo works as a remote camera shutter button too, so it’s easier to take group shots with everyone in the picture. Set the smartphone app, shake the Chipolo and snap the shot.

The Chipolo app is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and it’s good to see Windows being supported. On sale now, a single Chipolo tags costs 24.99 € (GB£19.99) though four tags is 89.99 €.

Chipolo


Wistiki Tracking Tags by Philippe Stark



Wistiki LogoBluetooth tracking devices are fairly common but when the tags have been designed by Philippe Starck as “connected jewels”, it’s definitely worth taking a look. Lisa Despeyroux, Wistiki’s Communications and PR manager connects with Jamie and Daniel to tell them more about Hopla!, Voila! and Aha!

French outfit Wistiki have partnered with the famous designer, Philippe Starck, to create three shapes of tracking device (or Wistikis) in four colours. Hopla! is credit card shaped for wallets and purses, Voila! is rectangular for keychans and the oval Aha! dangles for pets or gear. Colour-wise, the choice is yellow, blue, orange and pink. It all adds up to Gallic flair!

As with most tracking systems, the Wistiki connects to an app on the smartphone and there’s a fairly standard set of features including ring, reverse ring and leash. There’s an additional neat feature where if someone finds a lost Wistiki, they can message the original owner to arrange return. And the ringtone is cool too.

The new range is launching on Indiegogo now with expected delivery in late 2016. Current perks offer six Wistikis for US$149.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
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Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children



British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel


Take Control of Your Car with Mavia



Mavia DeviceTodd chats to Madison of Mavizon about their new Mavia automotive product which keeps tabs on your vehicle in more ways than one.

Mavia is a small box (see picture left) that plugs into your vehicle’s ODB-II port – that’s the connector used by technician’s to check on the car when there’s a problem. The Mavia combines readouts from this port with its own internal GPS receiver to provide location and technical information that is sent back to an online hub at www.mymavia.comAndroid and iPhone client apps can be downloaded too.

The MyMavia hub will show data on the vehicle such as gas mileage and distance to next service, plus any diagnostic error codes. MyMavia can interpret some of the diagnostic codes and it enables the owner to consult other resources, online or otherwise, to find out more on what’s wrong with the car. MyMavia incorporates location services too, showing where the vehicle is on Google Maps and there are connections to social sites like Foursquare.

The Mavia is in a beta testing phase so pricing is not confirmed but is expected to be around $200. The device will be available from retail outlets later in the year and requires no special fitting; it’s a self-install.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Malls Will Not Track You For Now



This is an update to the article I wrote on the 26th of November Malls Maybe Tracking Your Cellphone. A brief background, two malls in the United States, the Promenade Temecula in Southern California and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va, where planning to test Footpath by Path Intelligence, a technology which allows malls to track the path of their costumers. One of the concerns that I and others brought up was the issue of privacy. The fact that in order to opt out of the tracking you had to turn off your cellphone, which isn’t realistic in today’s world. This issue was also brought up in a letter by Senator Charles Schumer of New York. In a press conference and also in a letter to the mall and the FTC, Senator Schumer stated “A shopper’s personal cell phone should not be used by a third party as a tracking device by retailers,” Schumer said in a press conference on Sunday. “Personal cell phones are just that—personal. If retailers want to tap into your phone to see what your shopping patterns are, they can ask you for your permission to do so.” He especially had an issue with the idea that a consumer had to opt out of the tracking by turning their cellphone off. He stated this should be something consumers opt into and not opt out. Forest City which owns both the malls has not abandoned the plan entirely, but is trying to find a way to make it opt in. Path Intelligence the maker of Footpath, insist that this method of tracking is no different than cookies on the Internet. This maybe true, but I can manage online cookies, while this is an opt in or opt out period. I don’t expect this technology to go away, but it does need to be updated to be opt in.