Friday, February 01, 2013

A Proposed Tweak to The Location Services Arrow

FTC Announces App Guidance

The Verge's description of the guidance is fairly ridiculous, there is no way people would put up with constant notification that their location was being accessed. The OS already does so with the little arrow icon towards the end of the status bar.

Since the government, the FTC, can't think of any productive way to prevent the criminally minded from doing bad things, they want to punish users by giving them a string of mind numbing, experience ruining dialog boxes. Well, if it will satisfy their inner nanny, I propose that Apple add to the variations of the arrow, they already have one for background location services, how about one that developers can set when they get a location and send that location to a server? 

So if I am a weather app, and I need to send my location or a proxy of my location (for instance a region around my location) to a server, I set a property similar to UIApplication's networkActivityIndicatorVisible property, maybe, a geolocationNetworkActivityIndicatorVisible property.  Then the OS can do something like change the arrow icon to something distinct like (2 minutes of Photoshop Elements):
Do I think this is useful? No. All this notify the user stuff does not beat the "doing nothing is a high standard" bar, but it's less obnoxious than a modal alert dialog.

[Update: I guess I should point out that none of my personal apps send geo-location back to my servers, nor do they contain ads, so they don't leak geo data that way either. AM Towers USAFM Towers USATV Towers USA, and Signal GH all make calls to Map Kit, so either Google or Apple at least could know somebody is interested in broad geographical regions, while FM Towers USATV Towers USA, and Signal GH ask the FCC website for contour data when you tap on an antenna pin, so the FCC would know somebody was interested in a given broadcast station, which might be 1000 miles from the phone with the given IP address which made the query. I don't think either of these cases would merit notifying the user, but Apple would have to give guidance should they adopt something similar to my proposal.]