Tag Archives: Apple

Mobile ‘phones since 1993…

I cannot believe that I bought my first mobile ‘phone in 1993!  Vodafone and British Airways had a deal encouraging the intrepid traveler to buy one of these “Pocket Phones” – an Orbitel 902 – and there it is at the left of my mobile timeline below.  There is so much I could write about this – the change from Nokia to Apple with the iPhones; the fact that the average life-span has been just under 2 years; how appalling the Nokia N95 was, with the Nokia 6630 not being much better; how I liked the Nokia 6510; how I am still using my brilliant little Nokia 6080; how battery life of iPhones is too short; how I object to everything moving onto the Cloud….  Sadly the Android based Sony Xperia with NFC that I got last year as well is not shown here – on loan to my son in Spain! Oh yes, and what does this have to say about the number of active mobile ‘phones in the world – most of these still work, and you should see my SIM card collection!

Mobile 'phones smallEnjoy the picture!

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Digital Wars by Charles Arthur – excellent new book

Rarely do I use my blog to write book reviews, but rarely do I enjoy books as much as Charles Arthur’s new Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the battle for the Internet.  Not only is this highly informative, but it is extremely well written. I used every spare moment – in other words take offs and landings on recent flights, when laptops have to be switched off – to read it!  He somehow manages to craft an exciting thriller out of what could have been written in a very arid and boring way – the recent history of Apple, Google and Microsoft.  This really excellent book builds on Arthur’s journalistic work over the last 25 years, and combines deep insights about the evolution of these companies with fascinating interviews with people who have been involved from the inside in their evolution.

Digital Wars begins with accounts of some of the key personalities involved – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  His story then kicks off with Steve Ballmer’s elevation to CEO at Microsoft, and the aftermath of the Antitrust trial, which Arthur sees as having had an enormous effect on the company.  At a rapid pace, the book is then structured around four themes:

  • development and control of “search” – seen primarily as a conflict between Google and Microsoft
  • the innovative shaping of a digital music industry, in which Apple outplayed Microsoft
  • the creation of smartphones
  • the emergence of tablets

This book is a “must read” for anyone who really wants to understand some of the changes that have taken place in the ICT industry over the last 15 years.  In some ways, the book can be read as being about the demise of Microsoft, and the rise of Google to be the lead player in search, and Apple the dominant force in digital music (iTunes) and top-end telephony (iPhone).  However, it is much more than this.  Arthur manages to weave into the text fascinating insights into leadership, the ways through which small individual decisions – both good and bad – can shape the future of whole corporations, and the ebb and flow of recent corporate takeovers.

Do get hold of a copy and read it.  There is much to be learnt about the past from Digital Wars to help us shape the future.

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iPhone software update 4.3.3: limits tracking cache

Good to see that Apple has now released a software update (iOS 4.3.3) that means that iPhones will no longer retain information about where they have been!

As Apple, states:

“This update contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache including:

  • Reduces the size of the cache
  • No longer backs the cache up to iTunes
  • Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off”

In effect, this means that the amount of information kept on the ‘phone is limited to a week’s usage, and the location data are no longer backed up on users’ computers.

In response to criticisms over iPhone location data being stored on the ‘phones and backed up on users’ computers, Apple claimed that iPhones were not actually logging locations – “Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location, some of which may be located more than one hundred miles away from your iPhone, to help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Calculating a phone’s location using just GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes. iPhone can reduce this time to just a few seconds by using Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data to quickly find GPS satellites, and even triangulate its location using just Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data when GPS is not available (such as indoors or in basements). These calculations are performed live on the iPhone using a crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower data that is generated by tens of millions of iPhones sending the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple”.

Apple went on to say that the fact that up to a year’s data was stored was the result of a bug: “The reason the iPhone stores so much data is a bug we uncovered and plan to fix shortly (see Software Update section below). We don’t think the iPhone needs to store more than seven days of this data”.  Further, their statement also emphasised that Apple believe that personal information security and privacy and important: “Yes, we strongly do. For example, iPhone was the first to ask users to give their permission for each and every app that wanted to use location. Apple will continue to be one of the leaders in strengthening personal information security and privacy”.

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