"Your IPhone Is Tracking You." That was the headline of a quick post I wrote back in April when news started to spread that Apple's popular smartphones had, for years, been tracking the every move of their owners. This shocking revelation had come out earlier, but didn't catch the attention of the press until a team of security researchers presented some of their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco. And then it spread like wildfire.
There were a lot of heated attacks and nasty charges against Apple, but we took a more lighthearted approach. "I know I should be upset," wrote Alexis Madrigal in the introduction to a post he wrote later that afternoon. "Apple should explain itself and/or just stop this data collection. In the meantime, though, I've been playing with the software that the guys who discovered the logfile ... released." Using the information Apple had quietly collected, Alexis built a map of where his iPhone has been over the past year: the Milwaukee Airport, Denver, his old home in San Francisco.
Michael Kreil of Crowdflow took a similar approach. Kreil mapped the movements of 880 iPhones across Europe and built an animation called "iPhone fireflies," because it looks like the geolocation data is pulsing in the night. "The movements have a lovely firefly aesthetic as people, or I guess phones, move about the area," observed the website FlowingData. "City centers of course grow brighter, and areas pulsate as night time comes and then becomes bright again in the morning." See for yourself:
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