Location-Based Services

Facebook Nearby Friends tentatively tracks friendslist

Facebook Nearby Friends tentatively tracks friendslist

Facebook has added a new feature to its mobile apps, Nearby Friends, allowing users of the social network to find those on their friendslist when they're nearby, though Facebook is clearly wary of a privacy backlash. The feature, which will be rolled out to the Android and iOS apps over the coming weeks, shows your GPS position and that of your friends on a map; however, Facebook is turning it off by default, and relying on users to opt-in instead.

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Apple outs iBeacon specs (and they’re Android-agnostic)

Apple outs iBeacon specs (and they’re Android-agnostic)

Apple has detailed its specifications for iBeacon, its Bluetooth LE indoor location-based services platform, though exact details of the system are still locked down by the Cupertino firm's demands for secrecy. The specifications have been released under NDA, BEEKn reports, though according to information from those familiar with them predominantly concern how iBeacon devices will be branded, not how they are technically different from other Bluetooth LE transmitters.

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Philips LED lights flicker out a challenge to iBeacon and Gimbal

Philips LED lights flicker out a challenge to iBeacon and Gimbal

Philips has its own plans for location-based services in stores and entertainment venues, eschewing low-power Bluetooth by instead using LED lighting that can communicate with a smartphone app and guide customers around. Dubbed Intelligent Lighting, the connected retail lighting system not only illuminates the store, as you'd expect, but acts as a positioning grid which the smartphone can use to figure out where it is currently.

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Brighter beacons: Up close with Qualcomm’s Gimbal for Apple Stores

Brighter beacons: Up close with Qualcomm’s Gimbal for Apple Stores

With Gimbal, Qualcomm has a device that breaks quite a few molds. Open source, secure, and conceptually cool, Gimbal has the ability to actually make a difference in your day-to-day life. If you’re one to shop at an Apple Store, chances are you already know just how sublimely smooth the Gimbal experience can be. We sat down with Kevin Hunter, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Product Management for Retail Solutions, to find out just how Gimbal makes it happen, both for retailers and consumers.

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Automatic update turns cars into mobile Apple iBeacons

Automatic update turns cars into mobile Apple iBeacons

Automatic has updated its Bluetooth smart driving assistant to turn it into an Apple iBeacon, potentially allowing cars to communicate with stores, restaurants, and other venues as they drive past. The new tweak, added in a recent firmware up for the dongle, expands Automatic from its current role feeding MPG, speed, and other data to a nearby smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0, adopting Apple's location-based platform.

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Qualcomm Gimbal takes on Apple iBeacon for micro-location

Qualcomm Gimbal takes on Apple iBeacon for micro-location

Qualcomm has launched Gimbal, its take on Apple's iBeacon, a system of context-aware proximity beacons intended for shopping, social networking, mobile services, and more. Using small, battery powered Bluetooth dongles which create localized hotspots to interact with iOS and - eventually - Android devices, Qualcomm says Gimbal can push product information, sports team details, topical adverts, and other content whenever a smartphone comes into range, just as iBeacon promises only with eventual cross-platform support.

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Apple iPhone-tracking lawsuit dismissed

Apple iPhone-tracking lawsuit dismissed

A lawsuit against Apple over iOS location tracking and infringed privacy has been dropped after two years, with the same judge that recently awarded the Cupertino firm $290m in damages from Samsung ruling that outraged iPhone users hadn't demonstrated any legitimate violations. The case, filed back in 2011, saw four iOS users complain that their smartphones were transmitting location data even when the feature was ostensibly turned off, with devices storing up to a year of records in an undisclosed log file.

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Apple patent automates your life via locations, devices, tasks

Apple patent automates your life via locations, devices, tasks

Apple has patented a home automation technology that can turn your lights on when you enter your home, fire up your home entertainment system when you're on your way, adjust HVAC settings depending on your activities in remote locations, and untold other applications, Apple Insider has revealed. The system would combine geo-fencing with activity detection, so that not only your location but also your specific activities inform the automated tasks. The patent was awarded today.

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Google Keep notifications and Now integration added

Google Keep notifications and Now integration added

Google Keep, the note-taking service launched to rival Evernote back in March, has been updated with notifications and Google Now integration, aiming to pull out relevant notes rather than wait for users to dig through them. The reminders system works both on time, as per a regular alarm, but also on location, meaning that the app can now flag up a notification with, say, your shopping list when you go into a grocery store.

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Nokia HERE Research: We talk Smart Cities, ethical tracking & self-driving cars

Nokia HERE Research: We talk Smart Cities, ethical tracking & self-driving cars

If you're carrying a smartphone or driving a modern car, you're a potential probe, and Nokia would love to unlock your location for its HERE Maps services. The company already has its own gathering programs in place yet, for all its gigabytes of daily data, Nokia's HERE 3D mapping car is only one part of a navigation data analysis program that combines 80,000 sources from across the globe. We sat down with Jane MacFarlane, head of HERE Research at Nokia, and along with her team responsible for making sense of the masses of data, to find out why being a probe might one day help you avoid traffic jams, travel more safely, and even discover the hottest new restaurants, all thanks to the "wisdom of crowds".

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