Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled

Quartz reported that Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.

The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months, according to a Google spokesperson. They were never used or stored, the spokesperson said, and the company is now taking steps to end the practice after being contacted by Quartz. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable.

When Apple collected location data locally on the phone, there was a big outcry by the media over it. Let’s see what’s the response regarding Google collecting the data.

It’s time to admit Apple Watch is a success

Rene Ritchie wrote about the unfair treatment of Apple Watch by the tech community.

One of the hits on Apple Watch is that Apple doesn’t break out numbers for the product the way they do for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Many companies provide no numbers on any products, Amazon being a prime example. Yet that hasn’t prevented the very same tech community from pushing a very different narrative around Echo.

Double standards when it comes to Apple.

Yet, the narrative around Apple Watch was so lost that when Google delayed Android Wear 2, vendors like Motorola/Lenovo exited the market, and Pebble sold itself off, hot takes tripped over each other claiming the “smartwatch market” might be dead.

This is similar to the tablet market.

It could be that there is no real “Smartwatch market”, just an Apple Watch market. Much like there’s no real “tablet market”, just an iPad market. Since it’s such a new product category and most of the existing products are still bound to phones, it could also simply be too soon to tell.

Perhaps there isn’t a smartwatch market and Apple is now firmly in the watch market.

A Loose Theory on the Continuing Cooling of iPad Sales

John Gruber wrote a loose theory on the continuing cooling of iPad sales.

The peak years (2013 and 2014) were inflated because it was an untapped market. Steve Jobs was right, there was room for a new device in between a phone and a laptop, and the iPad was and remains an excellent product in that space. But people don’t need to keep buying new iPads. I think the replacement cycle is clearly much more like that of laptops than that of phones. This was not obvious to me at the time, but it seems obvious now.

People use iPhones and iPads differently and the replacement cycle is only starting to emerge after being confounded by the demand after it was released.

Apple’s Q1 2017 Results

John Gruber commented on Apple’s Q1 2017 Results.

Year-over-year unit sale changes, from Apple’s data summary:

  • iPhone up to 78.3 million from 74.8 million.
  • iPad down to 13.1 million from 16.1 million.
  • Mac up slightly, to 5.4 million from 5.3 million.
  • “Services” are up significantly, percentage-wise, to $7.2 billion in revenue, from $6.1 billion a year ago.

iPhone, Mac, and services are strong. iPad sales aren’t a disaster, but continue to slide. The year-over-year revenue numbers are telling (Q1 2017 / Q1 2016, in billions):

  • iPhone: $54.4 / $51.6
  • iPad: $5.5 / $7.1
  • Mac: $7.2 / $6.7
  • Services: $7.2 / 6.1

A year ago, iPad revenue was greater than that from Mac and services. Now, iPad has fallen behind both.

Record quarters revenue.

Xiaomi Stops Disclosing Phone Sales Figures

John Gruber wrote about Xiaomi ceasing disclosure of phone sales figures.

Which companies other than Apple still release their phone sales numbers? Samsung stopped way back in 2011, and as far as I can tell, never started again.

How to avoid criticism of slowing or poor sales? Don’t reveal your sales numbers.

Using the Apple Watch overnight

John Gruber commented on using the Apple Watch overnight.

I think sleep tracking is an inevitable feature for Apple Watch. I’ve been wearing a Series 2 to sleep lately, and I wake up with between 55-65 percent battery remaining. I can usually get to a full charge — or close enough, like say 98 percent — just by charging it while I shower and get dressed. In my use, Series 2 does not need to charge overnight. So it might as well track my sleeping.

I’m using a Series 1 and it goes through the day draining about 80%. From experience, I can fully recharge the watch within an hour and a half. This means it is possible to wear the watch overnight as long as I can find a time slot to allow the watch to recharge before I sleep.

Bill Gates on China

The Financial Times interviewed Bill Gates. The article is a good read, including two interesting responses regarding China.

On the rise of China:

I get just a hint of his politics, however, when we discuss the speed and energy with which China is developing and I suggest that some might find it all a bit scary. The word sets Gates off: “If all you care about is the US or the UK’s relative strength in the world, then it’s particularly scary,” he says laughing sarcastically. “In the US case, 1945 was our relative peak.” Since then, as he points out, other countries from Europe to Asia have rebuilt and become more prosperous, but, says Gates, “I guess I’m just not enough of a nationalist to see it all in negative terms.” On the contrary, Gates is excited by the things that a richer China could bring to the world. “I think it’s good that Chinese scientists are working on cancer drugs, because if my kid got cancer, I wouldn’t look at the label that says ‘made in China’. And, hopefully, we’ll get them working on some of these vaccines and also on energy.”

On China’s impact on the environment:

But Gates is also worried about the environment, so I ask him if the rapid industrialisation of China is a recipe for environmental disaster. Again, his impulse is to look to technology for a solution: “Short of going to war over this issue, the best way would be to find innovative forms of energy generation”. He is excited by solar and nuclear energy, and mocks those who complain about rising Chinese energy use — “I mean, these Chinese are actually using as much energy per capita as the average in the world today, how dare they! How did that happen? The US uses four times the average and the Brits double. But now these Chinese are trying to use the average.”

U.S. appeals court revives antitrust lawsuit against Apple

Reuters reported on U.S. appeals court reviving antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

But if the challenge ultimately succeeds, “the obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices,” Mark C. Rifkin, an attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz representing the group of iPhone users, told Reuters in an interview. “The other alternative is for Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has utilized its monopoly.”

Because $0.99 is too expensive a price to pay for protection against malware and bad apps.

AirPods Have Captured One Quarter of Wireless Headphone Spending Since Launching

MacRumors reported on AirPods capturing one quarter of wireless headphone spending since launching.

In the U.S. last month, an estimated 75% of revenue from headphones sold online came from wireless models, up from 50% in December 2015, according to Slice Intelligence. Apple’s new AirPods led the way, capturing an estimated 26% share of online revenue in the wireless headphone market since launching on December 13.

AirPods stole the top spot from Beats, which took an estimated 15.4% of online revenue in the wireless headphone market, down from 24.1% between the start of 2015 and December 13. Given it owns Beats, Apple appears to have actually taken nearly 40% of online revenue in the market since launching AirPods.

Other than hardcore audiophiles, most users would find wireless headphones a more convenient option. With EarPods so commonly used, the trend would favour a shift to increasing AirPods adoption as users switch to wireless headphones.

Android’s Emoji Problem

Emojipedia wrote about Android’s Emoji Problem.

The Google design team had a head start over Apple in terms of emoji adoption.

Unicode 9 support was first added to Android 7.0 in August, followed by genders and professions which arrived with 7.1 in October 2016. This was some timely updating from Google, especially compared to previous years.

By contrast, iOS didn’t include any new emoji updates until iOS 10 in September. The rest of the new emojis came months later in iOS 10.2 in December 2016.

However, real world usage shows that Android is lagging behind Apple.

Just 4% of Android users are using any variation of 7.x Nougat (released in August-September 2016), resulting in 96 out of 100 Android users not seeing the latest emojis.

In contrast, 84% of iOS users who visited Emojipedia are on iOS 10.

Google’s own statistics on Android version share show worse results with under 1% using Android 7.0 Nougat.

As a result, apps are taking matters into their own hands to make emojis work on Android.

Snapchat, Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and Slack all use emoji-replacement images on Android; in a trend started by Twitter with Twemoji which was released when the most popular browser on Windows (Chrome) didn’t include emoji support.

WhatsApp and Telegram even use Apple’s own emoji images on Android, and makes a custom keyboard to display them