Privacy concerns found in Pandora’s Android app

From ThreatPost:

That free service comes at a price, Veracode found. Researchers who took apart the application and studied its code found libraries for five different ad networks embedded in the Pandora application. Those libraries collected and trasmitted a variety of different data from the Android phone and its owner. The data included both the owner’s GPS location and tidbits the owners gender, birthday and postal code information. There was evidence that the app attempted to provide continuous location monitoring – which would tell advertisers not just where the user accessed the application from, but also allow them to track that user’s movement over time.

I tend to overreact when it comes to privacy concerns, but I think this represents a legitimate concern for everyone in the era of free mobile apps. While the developer might not give up personal data maliciously or even knowingly, advertisers who offer up software packages to developers for ad placement might be slightly more nefarious.  App developers should be cautious as to what info their apps are divulging, and consumers should realize that  “free” doesn’t always mean “free”.  You might be giving up a lot more personal info than you think.

Apple Opens App Store to Third-Party Development Tools

Via MacRumors:

Apple today announced that it is making several changes to its App Store developer policies and procedures, with one of the most significant changes being an easing of its earlier move to ban third-party compilers such as Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone compiler it had built into Flash Professional CS5. Under the new policies, such third-party tools will be permitted as long as the apps generated by them do not download any code.

This is a good move that potentially opens app store development to a much larger community and should help get regulators off of Apple’s back.  I’m excited to see some of the potential tools that could arise, but I am still skeptical as to how Apple will handle this loss in control of the app development process.

Notes

Ballmer rumored to present iPhone dev tools at WWDC [Updated]

Barrons.com is reporting (h/t MacRumors) that Apple have allotted seven minutes of presentation time during Steve Jobs’s upcoming Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) to Microsoft.  According to their sources, Microsoft will talk about native iPhone development using Visual Studio 2010.  This would be shocking enough in and of itself given Apple’s recent headline grabbing stance on controlling native iPhone development and limiting it to their own XCode application and developers suite.  To make it even more shocking is the idea that none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself will deliver the presentation.  This could prove to be one of the more interesting twists in the upcoming keynote on June 7.

On a side note, my unconfirmed, completely fictitious sources say that following Microsoft’s time, Adobe will be allotted 30 seconds during which CEO Shantanu Narayen, already fuming from the Microsoft announcement, will receive a swift kick in the crotch by Jobs.

Update:  Microsoft has apparently shot this rumor down via its Twitter feed:

Steve Ballmer not speaking at Apple Dev Conf. Nor appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Nor riding in the Belmont. Just FYI.

Steve Jobs’s Thoughts on Flash

Steve Jobs has published an open letter regarding his thoughts on Flash.  This well-written outline of Apple’s relationship with Adobe lays out why Flash is not on any iPhone OS device.  This sums it up pretty well:

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.  – Steve Jobs

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out how the detail of the letter gives Adobe “little wiggle room” to respond.  Michael Gartenburg (via Daring Fireball) makes the equally good point that Adobe’s only real play here is to respond with a version of Flash that runs favorably in a mobile touch environment.

A lot of talk from the blogs is about how this hinders developer’s choice when developing for the iPhone OS.  This type of commentary drives me crazy.  Developers can choose whether or not to developer for a given platform.  If they don’t like the ground-rules, they can go play somewhere else.  Logic dictates that if Apple drives away developers, fewer apps will be published, which makes the platform less attractive for consumers.  The power of choice is still there.

The “problem” for developers is that the iPhone OS and it’s associated devices are the most sexy from a consumer perspective.  So as a developer, here is your choice:  do you stand on your principles (or lack of ability to evolve as a developer) and miss the market, or do you challenge yourself to learn something new?  In the end, if lack of Flash is why you choose not to create an iPhone OS app or iPhone/iPod/iPad optimized experience in the browser, you probably weren’t committed enough the platform to make a great app in the first place.

Facebook: Introducing HipHop for PHP

Facebook has announced “Hip Hop”, a PHP to C++ compiler stack that they hope will overcome some of the scaling and speed issues associated with PHP apps.  The video above lays out the reasons they started the project and the types of things they want to accomplish with it.  As a PHP developer, this project is of great interest to me.  Most encouraging is the fact that someone other than Zend, the primary developers of PHP, is putting significant resources toward the popular language for Web apps.  The project is set to be released to the open source community in the near future.

Schedules: Maker’s vs. Manager’s

Here is a well-written piece by Paul Graham on why software developers (or generically, anyone who is a maker of something) hate meetings. As someone who lives between the worlds of those who make and those who manage, I deal with the struggle from both sides, but my mind is a maker’s mind. While this piece is written from the maker’s perspective, it gives other makers a fairly accurate view of how managers perceive time management and the scheduling of a day. Graham lays out the unique challenge of making things work despite the differences in time-management needs.

When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.

For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.

(h/t Bart Lewis)