"Your Apps Are Watching You" - That is the title of an article the Wall Street Journal posted online a few days ago. The title might be a little too "alarmist" for those of us familiar with the topic, but they do have some interesting findings. They studied 101 popular smartphone apps for the iPhone and Android (here is their methodology) to see exactly what these apps were (or were not) sharing with 3rd parties. They also created a great tool to show their findings - I recommend checking it out, whether you read the article or not. Here are a few tidbits of what they found:
"An examination of 101 popular smartphone "apps"—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone's location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders."
"Both the Android and iPhone versions of Pandora, a popular music app, sent age, gender, location and phone identifiers to various ad networks. iPhone and Android versions of a game called Paper Toss—players try to throw paper wads into a trash can—each sent the phone's ID number to at least five ad companies."
As with most advances in mobile technology, the trade-off is privacy for convenience. True privacy might be gone forever, unless you want to live in a cave; but that doesn't mean we should simply give into it without awareness of what we're giving up.
While this may or may not be earth shattering news (though the tool is pretty slick), I think it's just another reminder to stay aware of exactly what we put on our phones, as they are quickly becoming an extended part of our self.
Tool: What They Know