Panic button app could save your life — or go terribly wrong


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WItness gets you help from your own emergency contacts when you need it most.
Photo: George Tinari/Cult of Mac

If you’re afraid of ever being in a dangerous situation without any witnesses or good samaritans nearby, you might want to consider downloading this new app appropriately named Witness. Calling itself the ‘panic button for the smartphone age,’ one tap broadcasts live video and your current location to a list of preset emergency contacts, who can then decide if it’s appropriate to take action.

Of course, if they do nothing, they could potentially have front-row seats to a very morbid and disturbing show.

Your location has been shared more than 5,000 times in the last two weeks


How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
How much is your smartphone spying on you? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Smartphone users know that sharing personal data with apps can be part of the price of free apps, but when it comes to how frequently those apps give that data to third parties, the numbers will shock you.

A new study by Carnegie Mellon found that some smartphone users’ data is shared more than 5,000 times with third parties in a two-week period. Most people are totally clueless this is happening, but the study found that when people learn how much frequently data is being shared, they act rapidly to shut down the spread of personal info.

iOS 8 privacy changes bring big layoffs to retail tracking startup



iOS 8 is cruising through the final stages of development ahead of its fall release, and while most users can’t wait for its arrival, one NY-based startup already had to cut a third of its staff, after privacy changes in iOS 8 have threatened to already make its retail tracking technology obsolete.

Nomi, a startup that creates solutions for retail stores to track shoppers and their spending habits, has laid off 20 of its 60 or so employees, thanks in part to some small changes in iOS 8 that make make it impossible to identify repeat visits from shoppers with an iPhone.