Cell phones the police can’t tap into

You can set up a passcode to protect the information on your cell phone.  But the manufacturers can still unlock that information if given a court order, giving police and other government agencies access to people’s private data.  But Apple has announced that the new operating system for iPhones, iOS 8, will not give the company access to passcode-protected phones, making it technologically impossible to comply with snooping requests.  Android is following suit.

What do you think of this?  Is it a commendable blow for personal privacy against government surveillance?  Or is it an abdication of responsibility to help authorities fight crime?

[Read more...]

The phone as a device to avoid talking to people

Alexandra Petri discusses the decline in people checking their voicemails, the demise of landlines, and how texting is replacing live conversations.  Read the whole essay.  A sample:

A phone is not for making calls.

Phones are actually devices that you use to avoid talking to people, and anyone who thinks otherwise is surely older than 30. [Read more...]

The mystery of the missing cell phone calls

A related mystery in the case of the missing airliner.  Whatever happened, why didn’t–or haven’t–any of the 239 people on board call somebody on their cell phones? [Read more...]

What the NSA can do with cell phone data

He knows when you’ve been sleeping.  He knows when you’re away.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good.  So be  good for goodness sake.  Apparently, Santa Clause works for the NSA.  He also knows who you associate with.  And where you are.

This story from the Washington Post (after the jump) tells how the National Security Administration uses massive data from cell phones to not only track suspected terrorists but to identify other suspected terrorists based on the numbers they frequently call.  They can also use cell phone data to determine where these people are at any given time!  (Combine that with drone technology. . . .)

The information about what the NSA is capable of doing with cell phone data is fascinating.  You can see how it is a potent anti-terrorism tool.  But imagine how a government could use this technology to trace, say, a dissident political network. [Read more...]

Pinch to zoom

If you have a smart phone, can you pinch your fingers together while touching the screen to make the images smaller?  And move your fingers apart to make the images bigger?

Well, that so-called “pinch to zoom” technology was invented by Apple for its iPhones, even though other cell phone makers are now also including the feature.  But this was one of the patents upheld by that recent court ruling in Apple’s suit against Samsung.

Some people are indignant that Apple is able to patent a gesture, saying that pinching the screen to change the image is so “natural” that everyone should be able to do that, complaining further that Apple is harming consumers by limiting their choices, and that sort of thing.

I say that Apple is entitled to their patents and to the fruits of their creativity.  Some years ago, Apple lost a patent lawsuit against Microsoft, which copied Apple’s point-and-click device known as a “mouse.”  Microsoft also lifted Apple’s graphic interface, that is, the use of icons, which simply have to be clicked by said mouse, as a way of accessing software and all that a computer can do.  Apple deserves to win this patent dispute, at least.

All Samsung or other cell phone manufacturers have to do if they want to include this feature is to pay Apple a licensing fee, as they do for other patent holders.

Is there any argument–based on justice and equity–why Apple should give away their intellectual property?  Other than someone wanting them to or the desire to have iPhone features without having to pay for an iPhone?  But those arguments lack justice and equity.

Post-‘pinch’? Apple patent-case win could point to new digital age for smartphones – The Washington Post.

Apps

OK, I realize that I am late to this particular party, but I finally have an iPhone.  I’ve used it for awhile and liked it, but recently my sister has introduced me to the world of applications.  That is to say, “apps.”

I now have apps to let me know the news, the weather, and sports scores.  I can listen to my favorite kinds of music.  Best of all, I have apps that use GPS data to locate everything from restaurants near me to where I parked my car.

But I know I have barely scratched the surface.  You readers, though, early adopters and savvy technophiles that you are,  know far more than I do about this kind of thing.   And maybe some of you have found an “app” that the rest of us would benefit from.

So what are some good apps?  (Not only iPhones have apps these days, so feel free to suggest those for Androids or whatever.)


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