Tag Archives: apps

Online apps and social media platforms heavily track your behavior, without your consent

Are you being tracked online? New research says yes — especially on the largest social media platforms out there.

Applications like YouTube and TikTok track your digital movements with more than a dozen first- or third-party tracker software. These are ‘invisible’ stretches of code that allow for the gathering of user behavioral data even when said users opt-out of sharing their personal information. The findings come from an analysis performed by Atlas VPN, a private company offering virtual private network (VPN) services, which help protect user anonymity online.

Although Atlas VPN has a vested interest in these results — as a company that sells products that work directly against tracking software — their report does align well with the hushed suspicions many of us harbor in regards to digital platforms. The findings are also validated by being part of a larger study of 200 iOS apps conducted with Apple’s Record App Activity feature.

Tracked

“Internet users are starting to care more and more about their privacy, which challenges app developers to engage customers using first-party data strategies and tools,” said Vilius Kardelis, Junior PR Manager at Atlas VPN. “Currently, customers cannot see what data is being shared with third-party trackers or how their data will be used, creating a lack of transparency between the brand and the consumer.”

According to the company, YouTube contains 10 first-party trackers and 4 third-party trackers; TikTok, on the other hand, has 1 first-party and 13 third-party trackers. The difference between these two types of trackers is where they beam back the data they collect. First-party trackers send it back to the application’s domain (so, for example, one on YouTube will send it back to Google, which owns the platform), while third-party trackers send it to some other domain. The last kind is particularly concerning for most people, as the ultimate destination of the data is not shown to users, nor how it is going to be processed and used.

Social media applications analyzed in the study averaged around 6 trackers; Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and Messenger were the most modest offenders, containing a single tracker each.

TikTok recently became the most popular website worldwide, snatching that distinction from Google late last year. As such, the high number of trackers it uses, especially third-party ones, is particularly concerning. The website is also owned by a Chinese company, and all Chinese companies are required by law to provide any data that the Chinese government requires. What exactly TikTok does with all that user data is, obviously, not clear.

Data for the above-mentioned study, of which these results are also part, were obtained using Apple’s Record App Activity feature. This allows users to track which apps on their device connect to networks. Each of the studied apps was downloaded, started up once, and not registered, to determine a beginning set of connections.

Unsurprisingly, in the last few years, businesses selling powerful proxy services or VPN services have boomed. A proxy service (whether it’s an individual proxy or a datacenter proxy) acts as an intermediary between a user and the server while a VPN extends a private network across a public network, enabling the user to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if they were using a private network. This increased demand in proxies and VPNs comes down to better technological infrastructure and capability, but it is undeniably driven by increased demand from the public for internet anonymity and privacy. Findings such as these validate this consumer desire, showcasing the incredible extent to which our behavior is tracked and monetized online without our consent.

Oh, and if you thought social media was the worst offender, think again. These apps, in fact, made the fewest network connections among the 20 categories of apps that the study investigated. Apps by magazines, news, and sports applications made the most with 26, 21, and 18 connections upon download respectively. Most of these were third-party trackers.

There’s no reason to believe that companies will track us any less in the future. Such behavior is a lucrative business and, unless customers and lawmakers don’t push against it, companies are unlikely to give up a golden goose.

All You Need to Know About iOS Passbook Pass

Since the popularity of the Internet and related technologies to it such as smartphones and social networking sites, hundreds and hundreds of applications, or simply apps, have been and still are being created. Usually, these apps are meant to address the entertainment needs of the users while there are also apps that are meant for business purposes. One of the latest apps that can be optimized by businesses is the iOS Passbook pass.

 Passbook-app

Recently, there has been a fuss about the Passbook pass. It has been trending on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. As it seems, it is one of the hottest apps today. Many are saying that this app will significantly influence the way people transact money and the way mobile payment is performed. So to help you out, read on below the facts that you need to know about the iOS Passbook pass.

 

  • Introduction of Passbook pass. Last June 2012 at the Worldwide Development conference, Apple made an announcement about e-wallet. According to the company, it is an app that can be used as a mobile wallet. The app is completely integrated to the latest operating from Apple, the iOS 6.

 

  • Passbook as a new marketing tool. Businesses can definitely benefit from this app. It is cost-efficient since businesses do not have to spend money on the printing of paper coupons. Distribution of these coupons can now be done through smartphones, specifically iPhones. Aside from this advantage, businesses can also optimize the app in advertising products or services. With the millions of users of iPhones nowadays, you surely have a huge target market. With this app, you are actually hitting two birds with one stone.

 

  • Passbook as the new credit card. Everything is changing and the same is true with credit cards. With Passbook that can work the way a credit card does, there will come a time that no plastic credit cards will be of use anymore. So, credit card companies such as MasterCard and Visa should be threatened. With Passbook as the credit card, users can accomplish tasks such as shopping of various items and purchasing of airline tickets without the use of an actual credit card. No swapping is needed as everything will be processed using the app.

 

  • Added features. What makes the Passbook a better app is its added features. These are Calendar Updates, Push Updates and Geolocation. The Geolocation in particular is a very smart feature. Why is that? Well, it allows iPhone users to automatically receive a pass whenever they are nearby or inside a particular establishment that uses the app for their transactions. The creator of the Pass, which is the establishment, is responsible in choosing which Pass will pop out on the Lock Scree of the user’s iPhone. Usually, the Pass is a loyalty card or a discount coupon. This feature is very beneficial for iPhone users as they can immediately redeem the promo if they want to.

 

Having said all these, businesses and smartphones users as well should not think twice about using the app. For one, there is an increasing trend on the number of users of smartphones and it is likely to stay that way for the coming years. This means that requirements for the Passbook pass app to run is there. Businesses can use this app in tandem with third-party services, such as a RingCentral small business phone subscription, or other existing virtual private network subscription, for even more secure transactions.

Steve Jobs announces the release of the iPAD, Apple’s new challenge

Whether you’re a fan of Apple or really hate them, you have to admit there’s been a lot of fuss surrounding the iPAD. Announced as a project for more than 20 years, it’s bound to either be a major hit or a major fail. Despite numerous speculations, Apple really kept their secrets, throwing a veil of expectation over the whole thing. Just minutes, ago, it all went official.

the ipad from apple

“It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone,” Jobs said Wednesday at the device’s highly anticipated debut in San Francisco.

Basic features include a 9.7-inch touch screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, 16 (or 32 or 64) gigabytes of flash memory; the whole thing weighs about 1.5 pounds. Steve Jobs took the iPAD for a “test drive”, demonstrating how you can surf the web (using Apple’s Safari browser, of course), flip pictures, etc. Jobs also claims the tablet is better for reading books, playing games and watching videos than a smartphone or even a laptop. However, Apple’s CEO didn’t announce a price tag or when it will become available.

Rather than an inovation, this is a major redesign, because computer tablets have existed for a whole lot of time now. The iPAD will have to convince and educate consumers, and in order to facilitate this, all iPHONE apps will work on the iPAD.

“In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks,” Jobs said. “Otherwise it has no reason for being.”

“We think it’s going to be a whole ‘nother gold rush for developers as they build applications for the iPad,” said Scott Forstall, an iPhone software executive.

I find the idea kind of interesting, especially if you travel a lot (which I do); the battery lasts quite a lot, it’s smaller and easier to carry. However, it will probably come at a spicy price tag. Apple didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they reinvented the computer tablet; it remains to be seen how this works out.