Users all over the world are having their say about the relatively recent revelations of spying and stealth information capture that seems to be standard practice within certain departments. That heightened sense of awareness hasn’t been helped by the fact that a keen eyed programmer came across a block of code in Apple’s new OS for the Mac – OS X Mavericks – that suggests that the Californian giants are watching us. As we expected, it turns out that jumping to an initial conclusion without all of the evidence generally ends up with the wrong assumption being reached.
The block of code in question suggests that OS X Mavericks has been developed in such a way that it internally resets a Mac’s idle time counter whenever the system detects real-world movement. Does Apple use Mavericks to permanently watch what is going on in our rooms through the embedded iSight camera on the Mac? The short answer is that they don’t watch us with the camera, but they are using other sensors in an intelligent way.
A further series of tests has shown that a Mac running Mavericks will actually fend off its natural instinct to go idle when a user is present and moving around in front of the display. In an attempt to get to the bottom of the feature a number of Twitter uses conducted their own tests to confirm that Apple is actually using the default light sensor in a very intelligent way to detect whether or not to put the system to sleep. It seems Apple has extended the use of the ambient light sensor to enable them to detect changes in the environment lighting and link that to motion or a user being present.
We all love to get our teeth into a good story about large corporations stepping beyond the limits and tracking our whereabouts. If Apple was using the iSight camera for evil then it’s likely they would fall prey to the same levels of criticism that Microsoft’s new Kinect sensor has had thrust upon on. Fortunately, for them and us, they are tracking our presence, but only through the change in environment lighting.
You may also like to check out: