Today I talked to my mom for 1 minute and 53 seconds and played Angry Birds for four hours. Here's a filtered picture of an omelette I ate.
In an apparent move to bring the imaginary, all-seeing world of The Truman Show one step closer to reality, Samsung has filed a patent for what Engadget is aptly calling a "life diary": The patent essentially describes an app that would allow your smartphone to automatically record a journal of your day, every day, based on your location and whatever you do with your phone. You would then be able to look back at a calendar and see what you did with your life, according to your smartphone activity.
Here's part of the description from the patent application (keep in mind that this is written in patent-ese):
With the development of wired/wireless technologies, it made possible to continuously collect information related to a user's daily life. For example, due to the development of mobile communication technologies, a user always carries a mobile device. According to this, the mobile device can collect a variety of information of user's call record, photograph, music file play, position information and the like.
However, a current mobile device does not provide a service considering a user's convenience on the basis of the user's daily life information. According to this, there is a need for a technology for summarizing user's life information into a story on the basis of user's daily life information and providing the story to a user in a mobile device.
Later in the patent, Samsung proposes using -- in addition to your photographs, the music you listen to, your call records, and your locations throughout the day -- social media activity, the weather, your text messages, and information from your address book to fill out the diary entry, to give a true portrait of your day. Each entry, naturally, would be a multimedia affair, with any photos and videos you took included, and perhaps a song or two you've been enjoying lately.
There are already apps, of course, that approach this level of user oversight. Google Now, the Siri competitor on Android smartphones, constantly runs in the background and learns about you as you go about your day, eventually delivering a daily traffic report, and scores from your favorite sports teams, and restaurant recommendations without any input. A new app for the iPhone called Saga (invitation only) also tracks your location and attempts to learn the restaurants and stores you like and the establishments you haunt in order to recommend nearby spots you might also like.
Neither "ambient companion" app, however, details your life to the extent that Samsung's proposed life diary does. Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether Samsung turns this patent into reality, and if so, whether it comes pre-installed on its phones and tablets. Here's hoping it at least comes with an opt-out, if it does.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Girls Around Me
Despite its name, the controversial <a href="http://girlsaround.me/" target="_hplink">Girls Around Me iPhone app</a> let the user find girls or guys near his or her location. The app used publicly available photos from Facebook and location check-ins from Foursquare, letting the app-user check out the faces of nearby strangers, who didn't now their data was being used in this way. <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/03/31/tracking-women-now-theres-not-an-app-for-that/" target="_hplink">According to the Wall Street Journal</a>, after stalking concerns were raised by sites like <a href="http://www.cultofmac.com/157641/this-creepy-app-isnt-just-stalking-women-without-their-knowledge-its-a-wake-up-call-about-facebook-privacy/" target="_hplink">Cult of Mac</a>, Foursquare cut off access to the app so locations would no longer be available to be paired with Facebook photos. The app's creators then <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-na-nn-girls-around-me-20120404,0,5284353.story" target="_hplink">pulled Girls Around Me from the App Store</a>.
Available for both the <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/catch-your-cheating-spouse!/id433654335?ls=1&mt=8" target="_hplink">iPhone</a> and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bustedbooks.spyapp" target="_hplink">Android phones</a> for just $1.99,<a href="http://www.bustedbooks.com/cs/index.html" target="_hplink"> Bustedbooks.com's</a> <a href="http://" target="_hplink">Spy Guide app</a> gives users step-by-step directions on how to spy on text messages, email accounts, computers, cell phone records and more. It's more of an instruction manual than anything, but it's the perfect app to use if you suspect your lover is cheating. Way easier than talking it out, eh? (Yikes.)
Stealth SMS Parental Control
Sure, there are parents out there who are genuinely concerned about their child's well-being, but those who invest $4.02 in this app might possibly be crossing a line. According to the Google Play description of <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.mobilemonkeys.shadow.stealthsms&feature=more_from_developer#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEwMiwibmV0Lm1vYmlsZW1vbmtleXMuc2hhZG93LnN0ZWFsdGhzbXMiXQ.." target="_hplink">Stealth SMS Parental Control</a>, developed by Mobile Monkeys, this app will send all of a child's incoming and outgoing text messages directly to his or her parent's phone. All a parent has to do is sneakily install the app on the phone of his or her child. To be fair, the developers <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.mobilemonkeys.shadow.stealthsms&feature=more_from_developer#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEwMiwibmV0Lm1vYmlsZW1vbmtleXMuc2hhZG93LnN0ZWFsdGhzbXMiXQ.." target="_hplink">advise parents</a> thus: "Before you take any drastic measures and have your children grounded, spend a little time investigating in what is really going on."
At first glance, this Security Cam app, <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/security-cam/id300220373?mt=8" target="_hplink">developed by <a href="http://www.crowdedroad.com/" target="_hplink">Crowded Road</a> and <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/security-cam/id300220373?mt=8" target="_hplink">available for $9.99</a> through the App Store, seems like it could be a useful tool for security-conscious iPhone users. However, if you read what the app allows an iPhone to do, you'll realize the creepy implications. First off, the app enables your iPhone to take pictures at a specific frequency and have it start snapping when motion or a certain audio level is detected; the pictures can be exported later. Furthermore, the iPhone can be put in "Stealth Mode" so its display turns off even when the app is active. If you ever see a random iPhone lying around, be wary: It could be spying on you.
<a href="http://www.beenverified.com/iphone" target="_hplink">Available for both iPhone and Android</a> for free, Background Check was developed by public record search service <a href="http://www.beenverified.com/" target="_hplink">BeenVerified</a>. The app lets users perform one free background check every month (if you want to run more than one in a month, you'll have to pay) and allows them to access criminal records, social networking information, property records, and more of whomever they want. [via <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/296196/the-creepiest-apps-and-sites/4" target="_hplink">PCMag</a>]
Yes, you read that right. The Butt Analyzer app is <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=stu.app.ba&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsInN0dS5hcHAuYmEiXQ.." target="_hplink">available for free</a> on Google Play, and, let's you calculate the attractiveness of whichever derriere you choose -- including your own! -- on a scale of 1 to 10. All you have to do is snap a picture of said derriere. The developer, <a href="http://www.yausoft.com/" target="_hplink">YauSoft</a>, adds in: "It supports both men's and women's butts." Good to know. [via <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/rqpsf/worstcreepiest_app_youve_ever_seen/" target="_hplink">Reddit</a>]
While this isn't a mobile phone app, the desktop app <a href="http://ilektrojohn.github.com/creepy/" target="_hplink">Creepy</a> just couldn't be skipped. Developed by <a href="https://github.com/ilektrojohn" target="_hplink">Ioannis Kakavas</a>, Creepy is a chilling take on location-based social discovery apps like Highlight. But while those who sign up for Highlight select certain information to broadcast, Creepy pulls together all public information about one person that is available online and plots it on a map when possible. <a href="http://diveintoinfosec.wordpress.com/" target="_hplink">According to Kakavas</a>, one of his goals in creating the app was to raise awareness about one's privacy. "References in mainstream media (TV, newspapers, radio) and of course blogs/twitter gave the project enough exposure to send the message across," <a href="http://diveintoinfosec.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/creepy-0-2-or-your-set-was-cool-but-now-its-creepy-too/" target="_hplink">Kakavas wrote in a March 29 blog post</a>. "I have no metrics, but I think it was a good scare for social network fanatics and a wake up call for people to take their locational privacy a little more seriously. Or at least just a good step towards it. Or at least that's what I want to believe."