TIME apps

Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Your apps want to know where you are

Smartphone apps regularly collect large amounts of data on users’ locations, sometimes as often as every three minutes, new research suggests.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall Street Journal reports. The researchers found that many popular Android apps tracked their users an average 6,200 times per participant over a two-week period, or about every three minutes.

The WSJ writes:

Even apps that provided useful location-based services often requested the device’s location far more frequently than would be necessary to provide that service, the researchers said. The Weather Channel, for example, which provides local weather reports, requested device location an average 2,000 times, or every 10 minutes, during the study period. Groupon, which necessarily gathers location data to offer local deals, requested one participant’s coordinates 1,062 times in two weeks.

Some of the apps came pre-installed on the phone, and were not as easily deleted, the WSJ reports. The researchers were also looking at whether users would benefit or appreciate software “nudges” that would alert them when sensitive data was being collected by their apps. The researchers found that the participants often changed settings when they learned that their apps were collecting information about them or their location.

The research will be presented at the CHI 2015 conference.

[WSJ]

TIME France

See How a Rare ‘Supertide’ Turned a French Medieval Town Into an Island

France High Tide
AP An aerial view as a "supertide" submerges a narrow causeway leading to the Mont Saint-Michel, on France's northern coast, March 21, 2015.

Mont Saint-Michel is normally accessible by a slim causeway.

Visitors witnessed Mont Saint-Michel in northwestern France become an island on Saturday, thanks to a rare “supertide” that submerged a causeway that typically provides access to the medieval community. The waters rose some 42 feet (13 meters) and temporarily disconnected the area, which is about 2,000 feet (600 meters) from land.

TIME weather

First Day of Spring to Bring Snow to Millions in Northeast

Water vapor map of the eastern U.S. on March 19, 2015.
NASA/NOAA Water vapor map of the eastern U.S. on March 19, 2015.

Parts of the Northeast could see a half-inch of snow on the first day of spring

The calendar may say Friday is the first day of spring, but Old Man Winter isn’t going out that easy. Yet another round of snow is set to strike the Northeast on Friday, with 3 to 6 in. of snow expected to fall between West Virginia and Massachusetts.

Parts of Washington and Virginia can expect a mix of rain and snow, according to Accuweather. The storm is set to have the greatest impact in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, where residents could face up to 6 in. of the devil’s dandruff on Friday. The Weather Channel reports some parts of New England may also see 3 in. of snow on Friday.

Friday’s storm is the cherry on top of a blistery winter for the Northeastern swath of the U.S., particularly for residents of Boston, which has faced its snowiest winter on record in 2014–15 with over 108 in. of snow.

The rest of the world, however, has been feeling the heat. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, this winter was the world’s warmest.

 

 

TIME Environment

This Was the Warmest Winter on Record

But you wouldn't have guessed it if you lived on the East Coast

Global temperatures from December to February were the highest on record, U.S. climate officials said Wednesday.

If that comes as a surprise to many Americans after an agonizingly cold winter, it’s because the region encompassing the eastern United States and Canada was one of the only places on earth with lower-than-average temperatures.

NOAA

Globally, the average temperature from December to February was 1.42 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th-century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average temperature was the highest since tracking began in 1880, surpassing the previous high in 2007 by .05 degrees.

Last month marked the second coldest February on record, behind February 1998.

Read next: It’s Official: Boston Had Snowiest Winter Ever

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. There are no winners in a currency war, either. Here’s why the U.S. is carrying the burden of the global recovery.

By Mark Gilbert in Bloomberg News

2. Despite slow and censored Internet and the weakest mobile phone penetration in Latin America, Cuba is the land of opportunity for daring tech investors.

By Ramphis Castro in Re/code

3. Anyone with a smartphone can become a mobile environmental monitoring station.

By Brian Handwerk in Smithsonian Magazine

4. Permanent, easily accessible criminal records are holding back too many Americans. It’s time to “ban the box.”

By Ruth Graham in the Boston Globe

5. Autism Village is an app that helps families find autism-friendly businesses.

By Olga Khazan in The Atlantic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME weather

36 Runners Taken to the Hospital as Heat Wave Hits Los Angeles Marathon

30th LA Marathon held in USA
Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images The 2015 Los Angeles Marathon held in Los Angeles on March 15, 2015

One man suffered a heart attack as temperatures hit record-breaking levels

More than 30 runners in the Los Angeles marathon were hospitalized Sunday, as a sudden heat wave swept the California city.

The race even began half an hour before its scheduled start time so runners wouldn’t bear the brunt of the brutal heat, NBC News reported.

Temperatures in L.A. hit 88ºF at their highest point, 20 degrees above the average and 3 degrees above the city record for the day set in 1978.

A total of 36 people, including a 61-year-old man who suffered a heart attack just before the end of the race, were taken to the hospital, while another 150 were treated on the sidelines.

[NBC]

Read next: You Asked: Should I Do The Insanity Workout?

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME weather

Cyclone Bears Down on the South Pacific

Left to right: Tropical Cyclone Olwyn in the Indian Ocean heading south for landfall near Learmonth on the west coast of Australia, Tropical Cyclone Nathan meanders northeast of Cooktown, Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea, Tropical Cyclone Pam tracks due south heading for the islands of Vanuatu in the southern Pacific Ocean and Tropical Depression 3 heads west-northwest towards Guam in the northern Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2015.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration /EPA Left to right: Tropical Cyclone Olwyn in the Indian Ocean heading south for landfall near Learmonth on the west coast of Australia, Tropical Cyclone Nathan meanders northeast of Cooktown, Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea, Tropical Cyclone Pam tracks due south heading for the islands of Vanuatu in the southern Pacific Ocean and Tropical Depression 3 heads west-northwest towards Guam in the northern Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2015.

Wind speeds have reached 165 mph

A category 5 cyclone is pummeling the island nation of Vanuatu, a storm set to be one of the worst in that country’s history.

Wind speeds have reached 165 mph, fast enough to destroy homes according to the National Weather Service. Flooding and landslides may also occur. This is only the 10th category 5 cyclone to hit the region since 1970.

Vanuatu, population 224,000, is on red alert, and the center of the storm is expected to hit early Saturday morning local time.

[Weather Channel]

TIME weather

Mountain Climbers Discover Frozen Corpses on Mexican Peak

Aereal view of the Citlaltepetl volcano or Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America in Veracruz State, Mexico on June 1, 2014.
Alfredo Estrella—AFP/Getty Images Aereal view of the Citlaltepetl volcano or Pico de Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America in Veracruz State, Mexico on June 1, 2014.

The bodies could be the victims of a 1959 avalanche that killed three people

Mountain climbers in Mexico stumbled onto a scene from The Walking Dead this week after they found two corpses sticking out of a glacier on Mexico’s tallest peak.

Inclement weather prevented officials from digging out the remains of the bodies on the Pico de Orizaba volcano, the Weather Network reports, but a second attempt was made Friday.

Authorities believe the bodies could be the victims of a 1959 avalanche that killed three people and that a third corpse could be in the area. Many relatives of other missing climbers have contacted officials about identifying the bodies since the climbers’ shared their discovery. Clothing that may have been preserved in the ice could help forensic experts determine the identities of the deceased climbers.

[Weather Network]

TIME Environment

El Niño Arrival Too Late for California Drought

"Too little, too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California"

El Niño has finally arrived, but the precipitation brought by the weather event is unlikely to alleviate California’s severe drought, officials said Thursday.

“After many months of watching, El Niño has formed,” said Mike Halpert, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. “Unfortunately, this El Niño is likely too little, too late and too weak to provide much relief for drought-stricken California as California’s rainy season is winding down.”

El Niño, a cyclical phenomenon that lasts several years, begins with warming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and eventually affects weather around the world. In the United States, it can lead to storms along the West Coast and affect hurricanes and other tropical storms. Tropical storm activity could be reduced due to El Niño, but it’s too soon to know for certain, the NOAA said.

Forecasters have been waiting to declare the start of El Niño for nearly a year. The late arrival may make El Niño-related storms “weak in strength” with “fairly low influence on weather inclement,” Halpert said.

TIME weather

‘Last Hurrah’ Winter Storm Hitting Mid-Atlantic, Extending to East Coast

Plucky Bostonians are saying bring it on, we want the record!

Millions of people in 28 states faced winter weather on Thursday as a late-season storm swept across North America.

Drivers in Kentucky were left stranded on the road as snow piled around them on Interstate 65. A snowy runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport caused an airplane to skid off the road and the city of Washington was effectively a ghost town, thanks to piles of snow that shuttered federal government operations.

Temperatures were significantly colder than average — anywhere from 10 to 30°F — across the region.

The governors of Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Jersey all declared states of emergency on Thursday, the Associated Press reports. But at long last, one of the worst winters in recent memory may be relenting, according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

He told the Associated Press the storm “might be winter’s last hurrah.”

But in Boston, a city two inches away from breaking its all-time snow record, some residents said bring it on.

“I want the record. We earned the record,” said Erin O’Brien, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

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