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  • Britain's NHS rejects the Apple & Google COVID-19 exposure notification technology

    larryjw said:
    PS: If you want privacy, don't use cell phones. Bluetooth is perfect for tracking. 

    A couple years ago, bluetooth sensors were installed allow transportation corridors to track vehicle traffic, reading signals from Bluetooth devices, so transportation planners could "see" traffic patterns, where people entered the corridor, where they exited the corridor, average speeds, etc. 

    There are certainly ways to do that: iBeacon APIs let an installed App with Bluetooth access register the “family” of beacons to listen out for, and then when they are heard some app code gets run to do something. Typical, of the third party beacon APIs, is to do a network connection and look up data (which can pass on info like the beacon details but also - if it has permission - where you are, trigger a local notification, that sort of thing). Some of those third party beacon APIs were also listening out for their own beacon families, and frankly it was all a bit of a mess.

    I can see how an app developer working on this NHSX project might want to, in the background, emulate a beacon but also listen out for others (I’m not sure if you can do *that* without background execution, and for that if you’re not one of the valid AppStore use cases you would indeed need a dispensation). A smart designer would also, as the Apple/Google design does, realise that you need to change your Transmitted beacon ID regularly, because otherwise someone else (those pesky business football companies) will start listening too.

    Here in London we had advertising companies installing Wi-Fi base stations on rubbish bins, just to listen out for phones as they passed by and collect their MAC addresses. So Apple and Google started using random MAC addresses when probing for Wi-Fi networks that they knew. 

    So the advertisers upped their game offering free Wi-Fi hotspots. Why? Because if you connected to their network and left it as auto-join then your phone would connect as you passed and disclose its real MAC address. 

    Indeed, the London Underground (to come back to the transportation subject that I’m replying to), who legitimately and usefully provide Wi-Fi on sub-surface stations, use this to then track phones as they move through the station tunnels and platforms, to model passenger movement. 

    Mine’s the phone with auto-join disabled on public Wi-Fi networks,
  • Apple yanks watchOS 3.1.1 update following user complaints

    twa440 said:
    I can't recall any products being bricked when Steve was around but, maybe so. I know I've never seen six updates in two years that caused products to be bricked.
    There was one early update to OS X 10.0 that deleted the entire hard drive of anyone who'd named it with a leading space (a common "trick", back in the day). That wasn't exactly bricking (you could boot off CD) but it didn't do much for your data.

  • Hands On: Google Calendar on iOS continues the trend of 'fiddly but powerful'

    Still no facility to search, then? You'd think Google might be able to do that, even on mobile.
  • Alternative App Store payment service in holding pattern, waiting for Apple to change

    It’s like they don’t remember as far back as the mid ‘00s when companies were still charging for software updates, because “accounting rules” required allocating the development cost to, well, some revenue. Clearly one of the solutions is to fund it from income from running the App Store.

    Not to mention apparently assuming that because development tools, SDKs, simulators, etc are “free” (the yearly developer registration fee is only going to go so far…) that they must cost nothing to develop.
  • Viral AirTag discovery behind license plate likely staged

    Ashley said in her video that the AirTag supplied her with a partial phone number, which is questionable.

    "And their phone number -- uh, I mean, the last 4 digits"

    Given that AirTag owners select what information to display when an AirTag is scanned, it seems improbable that a stalker would tell Apple's iCloud that displaying this information would be acceptable, nor would it be useful in the case of an actual lost AirTag.
    This seems the most genuine bit of the whole story. In testing with mine, if I didn’t mark it as lost, scanning it with an Android phone took me to an Apple website that did show the last four digits of my phone number.