Many smartphone apps have terms and conditions that allow them to collect location data from users—whether or not those apps actually use that information to improve their service. That data could soon be used in some surprising ways, by music or photo apps, for example.
Factual, a company that processes and sells data tied to the locations of 65 million businesses and other places worldwide (see “50 Disruptive Businesses, 2013”), is cooking up ways for a broader range of mobile device apps to make use of knowledge about where a person is located at any given time.
Factual CEO Gil Elbaz, who spoke this week at the MIT Technology Review Mobile Summit in San Francisco, says the company is working on a “personalization API” that it plans to launch in the coming months. It would make it easier for app developers that don’t typically make use of a person’s location—say a music service like Pandora or Spotify—to tap into a person’s situation in the moment. Using the API, for example, a music service might know if a person is in a library or in a stadium and automatically change the volume accordingly.
Such location information could clearly be useful in personalizing advertisements. You could imagine a photo app that recognizes when a person is standing at a particular tourist site. Google’s Motorola division is reportedly working on a phone that can guess when a person wants to take a photo.
RELATED STORIES View other articles provided by Symantec:
• Enterprise Mobility
• Secure Mobile Advisors
• Case Study: Quest Diagnostics Mobilizes their Clinicians and Sales Reps
Factual’s plan comes as major mobile technology companies look to assist app developers in using mobile sensor data to gauge a person’s current surroundings and intent.
Google, for example, recently launched a set of services that will help outside software developers track their users’ location and movements, at the same time reducing the battery power required to do this tracking (see “Google Wants to Help Apps Track You”). Similarly, the chipmaker Qualcomm is developing on a platform called Gimbal that taps a phone’s sensors to provide apps with “contextual awareness” and announced in April that it had formed a business partnership with Factual.
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?
Perovskites are promising, but real-world conditions have held them back.
The baby formula shortage has birthed a shady online marketplace
Desperate parents just want to feed their babies. They’re having to contend with misinformation, price gouging, and scams along the way.
I tried to buy an Olive Garden NFT. All I got was heartburn.
Our newest issue spells out what you need to know about the dizzying world of digital money.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.