That awesome little data collector we all carry around in our pockets…

Lately, there’s been a lot of stuff in the news about Carrier IQ and how it’s software has been collecting all kinds of data from your mobile phone. A lot of people are freaked out about it, and rightfully so. It’s apparently done without consent, and it’s not really clear what the data is used for. It’s kind of sad, really, to see such a negative high-profile story about your phone’s ability to collect data about you.

As a fun counterpoint, here are some ways that awesome little data collector we all carry around with us can be used the right way, to make your life easier or help you learn awesome stuff about yourself.

Easy to use apps:

Glympse: Never have another drawn-out sms conversation with someone you’re traveling to meet with. Just send them a Glympse, and let your phone keep them updated on your progress.

Google Latitude: Automatically track and share your location. It gets pitched as more of a social application, but what I find the most interesting is the history dashboard. Another awesome trick is the ability to automatically check-in at places you frequent. For example, I keep a log of the number of times I go to the coffee shop down the street from my apartment. I keep a similar log of how often I go to the gym. The coffee shop wins. 🙂

Placeme: A new app that takes Latitude’s auto-checkins and expands on them. It tries to automatically capture, categorize, and quantify everywhere you spend your time. It’s pretty cool, but seemed like it was KILLING my phone’s battery so I stopped using it after a few days.

RescueTime: (shameless plug here, sorry) People are spending more and more time on their mobile devices. RescueTime for Android gives an understanding of which apps you are using the most. (I use the Reddit app on my phone about twice as much as I do on my computer, for instance)

Harder to use apps (but still awesome):

Here’s a couple that can be really powerful, but require some extra legwork to get something useful from the data.

MyTracks: Much more robust location tracking than Google Latitude. Every few seconds, it records your latitude, longitude, elevation and velocity. There are some visualizations you can see within the app itself, but you can also export the data. That’s the part I find interesting. I used it to do a month-long study of my transportation habits.

Cellbots Sensor Data LoggerOne of the most robust data collection applications of them all. Gather measurements from all available sensors on your phone, as well as recording video or taking time lapse images. I haven’t used it for anything, but it’s good enough for NASA, so that’s gotta count for something:

What did I miss? What’s your favorite data collector app?

2 Comments on “That awesome little data collector we all carry around in our pockets…”

  1. Dan says:

    Please please please bring rescue time out for iPhone. I’ll love you forever. Promise

    • Robby Macdonell says:

      Believe me, I’d love it, too. There are some technical challenges that make it something we have to approach differently than the Android app. We’re trying to figure out the best way to address them.