location services

Time of My Life is a relatively new Windows Phone 8 app from Microsoft Studios that is designed to help you track where you spend your time.

The app uses your Windows Phone location services to log the time you spend in one location or the other and will chart your activity with daily, weekly and monthly graphs.

Time of My Life is an interesting app with potential but could use a little fine-tuning.

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Latté Locator is a simple, nicely laid out Starbucks finder app for Windows Phone. Latté Locator will not only discern the closest Starbucks but also map out directions to get you to that next cup of joe and pull up contact information for that particular café.

What makes the app unique though is where it gets its data. It’s not scrapping it from Google or Bing like other apps, but rather it is connecting directly to the Starbucks server via their private API. Think of how 6tag and Instance work with Instagram, and you have the same model for Latté Locator. The result? Highly accurate information and no “noise”. Throw in a nice UI with some cool features and we like what we see.

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Nokia has gone into some detail about how the company uses anonymous data collection from consumers who utilise its location services to help improve the overall HERE experience offered. A number of data sources are relied upon to maintain and update mapping, as well as innovative tools that can detect changes and trigger action points. Sounds like the creation of the Matrix, right?

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Ciel is a Windows Phone 8 photography app that lets you place a template over your pictures that details your location and current weather. It's a nifty way to show off how nice (or miserable) the weather is where ever you may be.  Additionally, Ciel has direct sharing support for Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr to let you share the good (or bad) weather with your friends without having to leave the app.

An update was pushed out this morning for Ciel, lifting it to version 2.7. The most notable change with the update is the addition of Lens integration.

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Hungry Now is a simple fast food finding app for your Windows Phone. It's an app that can come in handy when you're traveling or when your stomach is growling and you need to find fast food fast.

Hungry Now will help you locate worldwide locations for McDonalds, Quick, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, Burger King, Carl's Jr., Dominos Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, El Pollo Loco, Fatburger, Jack in the Box, Johnny Rockets, Pizza Hut and Wendys.

Hungry Now is designed fairly simple with your main view being a map of your current location with details about your preferred fast food restaurants along the bottom sides of the map. Along the bottom of the screen you can access the app's settings and view the about screen.

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Location Finder is a location finding/sharing app for your Windows Phone 8 device. The app goes beyond just telling you where you're at but also provides geocoding, reverse geocoding, live tile support and the ability to generate driving/walking directions to saved locations.

Location Finder was recently updated to version 2.4 and adds the ability to backup your saved locations to Skydrive and generate voice commands for saved locations.

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Windows Phone Review: First Row

First Row is a Windows Phone app designed to help you find concerts, events and sporting events in your area. First Row also has the capability to purchase event tickets from your Windows Phone.  Which can come in handy when you don't feel like waiting in line at the box office.

First Row is powered by SeatGeek and is a fairly comprehensive source for finding your concert and event listings.

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Nokia has been a bit cheeky the past couple of weeks by crashing Samsung's party and publishing snarky comments about HTC's latest Windows Phone hardware - the company is certainly on a path of war and utmost destruction. And they haven't halted either. Over at the conversations blog, the team have compiled a comparison chart that details location features present in the Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S3 and the recently unveiled iPhone 5.

Nokia has done a superb job regarding location services on Windows Phone. The manufacturer is set to release Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive as an app available for every Windows Phone owner, which lifts the requirement to purchase a Lumia handset for solid (and free) turn-by-turn navigation. Using Navteq and in-house technologies, Nokia is able to provide apps and services that don't rely on third-parties, and notes that Navteq maps have been "meticulously developed over 20 years of know-how".

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The location services on your Windows Phone can come in handy for navigation apps, finding local services and focus ad banners to content relative to your location. It also allows wireless providers and OS manufacturers to provide location services to allow customers to locate their phones if lost.

A recent Court ruling may have opened the door for law enforcement to use the same location services to track you without a warrant (at least in the Sixth Circuit). The case in question involves a drug dealer, Melvin Skinner, who was tracked by Federal Agents using his cell phone location services. Agents received Court authorization to obtain information on the cell phones used by Skinner that was in turn used to track his location. The tracking information obtained by law enforcement not only connected Skinner to the crimes but would also lead agents to his location for arrest.

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Windows Phone App Review: Track My Life

Every wonder where you spend most of your time? Track My Life is a Windows Phone app that hopes to tell you just that.  The app records your location every thirty minutes and logs which city your are in.  Track My Life will map these locations on the map (provided by Bing) with a push pin.  From there you can tap on a push pin to see how much time you've been tracked in that city or view the overall stats that will let you know which city you've spent the most time in.

Track My Life is an interesting tracking app for your Windows Phone that does have some room for improvement.  Overall though, it's a nice choice if you're curious what location you are spend the bulk of your time in.

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Microsoft has updated the how-to section of the official Windows Phone website to include a small tip regarding when location based services are currently active. A small indicator (see above image) will be included in a future update, which be displayed with the other disappearing status indicators that will alert the user as to when apps are using the phone's location.

Microsoft informed The Verge that the update will be included with handsets shipping with Windows Phone "Tango" with existing devices receiving the update once the company has finalised the update with carriers.

"After the new devices are out, we’ll start the process of working with mobile operators to bring an update to current customers. It’ll be a few months before we have specifics on that roll out,

Just how long existing consumers will have to wait for the update hasn't been specified, but it's a positive move to fight privacy concerns. We could well see the update including this location indicator being bundled with the new features in "Tango" for Mango users.

Source: Microsoft, via: The Verge@WPUG

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Microsoft is reporting that they have discovered unintended behavior with its Windows Phone location services. Following a Federal Lawsuit that claims Microsoft was doing such, Microsoft said they'd look into the claims and sure enough, they found a bug.

In a statement released earlier on Wednesday, Microsoft revealed,

"We have identified an unintended behavior in the Windows Phone 7 software that results in information about nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers being periodically sent to Microsoft when using the Camera application, and, for phones that are configured for US-English, when using the phone’s voice command features (such as “Find Pizza”). For the Camera, the software bug results in the behavior even where you have disabled geo-tagging photos in the Camera application."

Oops.

Microsoft did state that the recent Mango Update eliminates the unintended behavior (lawyer talk for "we didn't know it was there") by the camera application and voice command feature. However, the bugs are still present when using the "Me" feature in the Peoples Hub. Wifi access points and cell tower information is sent to the Windows Phone location service each time a user accesses "Me".

Microsoft is already working on an update to fix the "Me" bug after which, information about nearby Wifi access points and cell towers will be sent only if you agree to allow the "check in" feature of "Me". There was no time frame on this update but I suspect it will be sooner than later.

In the meantime, Microsoft is reminding Windows Phone customers that you can prevent access to location information by applications and the collection of location information by going to Settings>Location and turning this feature off.

While it's never good for any operating system to have such bugs, you've gotta give kudos to Microsoft for moving quickly to identify the problem and working to fix things without delay. You can read more about this disclosure and Microsoft's Privacy Policy here at Microsoft.com.

For more intelligent discussion on the matter, take a look at Rafael Rivera's take on it here: "Dissecting Case 01438 Exhibit B, Part 4"

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Earlier this year Microsoft was brought into the geo-location controversy along with Android and the iPhone, but remained vigilant that no foul play was present. Earlier this month the software giant was attacked again by a lawsuit claiming the camera app in Windows Phone collected and sent location information without prior permission.

Microsoft denied the claims with a firm statement:

"Because we do not store unique identifiers with any data transmitted to our location service database by the Windows Phone camera or any other application, the data captured and stored on our location database cannot be correlated to a specific device or user. Any transmission of location data by the Windows Phone camera would not enable Microsoft to identify an individual or 'track' his or her movements."

Now Rafael Rivera over at Within Windows has posted his own findings that backs up the lawsuit against Microsoft. He found that packets were being sent by the camera app to Microsoft's Location Interference service. What's being sent? OS version, device information (make, model, etc.), local wireless access points and various GUID-based identifiers. 

However, there are a lot of remaining questions: Is Microsoft collecting this data or just pushing it back? What happens when you disable the location service in the camera? (Ansewr: it appears to stop this behavior). In short, it looks like the first time you run the camera app, it gets your location from Microsoft, but once you disable it, that's that.

Check out his full report via the link below. What do you make of Microsoft collecting location data?

Source: Within Windows

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File this one under "you've got to be kidding me!" but a proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court alleging that Microsoft is tracking customers through the Windows Phone camera. No... seriously.

The claim has Microsoft intentionally designing the camera software to ignore customer requests to turn off you location services and send it to Microsoft anyways. Early this year, Congress was concerned about privacy issues and technology. In response to these concerns, Microsoft wrote Congress and assured them that they only collected geolocation data with the express consent of the user.

Mrs. Rebecaa Cousineau, the plaintiff of record, claims "Microsoft's representations to Congress were false." Mrs. Cousineau further claims that Microsoft transmits data that includes approximate latitude and longitude coordinates of the user's device while the camera is activated. The lawsuit, brought about on behalf of all Windows Phone 7 users, is asking for an immediate injunction, punitive damages and other remedies.

Microsoft has yet to publicly respond to this latest round of litigation. It's true that your Windows Phone camera can record your GPS coordinates to your pictures EXIF file but you can also turn that feature off as well as the overall location services on your Windows Phone.

Whether or not you are truly turning these feature off has yet to be determined.

source: Reuters

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