Apple cripples GPS in Egyptian iPhones

Apple cripples GPS in Egyptian iPhones

Summary: A report in The New York Times claims that Apple has disabled the GPS functionality of the iPhone 3G at the request of the Egyptian government due to concerns over possible anti-military/anti-Egyptian applications.What on earth in an "anti-Egyptian application" anyway?

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Iphone Pharo Vodafone Egypt

A report in The New York Times claims that Apple has disabled the GPS functionality of the iPhone 3G at the request of the Egyptian government due to concerns over possible anti-military/anti-Egyptian applications.

What on earth in an "anti-Egyptian application" anyway? Would Apple ever let such a thing through the iTunes approval process?

The real concern appears to be that the GPS feature in the iPhone 3G could be used by terrorists to acquire hyper-accurate latitude and longitude coordinates on specific targets, like the pyramids, "so that they could execute attacks."

The iPhone 3G went on sale in Egypt (sans GPS) on 22 August via Orange and Vodafone. The easiest way to get a GPS-capable iPhone in Egypt? Import it. The GPS chip in iPhones purchased elsewhere still work when in Egypt and there's not much that the Egyptian government can do about it.

The real question is that if Apple is willing to concede the GPS feature to Egypt, what will it do for China?

Tip: ArsTechnica

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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29 comments
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  • That you could...

    track a particular iPhone is probably the big concern. There
    is an app, I believe, that allows you to see where your iPhone
    contacts are in real time. If they are set up with the app too
    and allow it of course. It would be a cheap and easy way to
    track "packages"
    CowLauncher
  • Yeah, that makes sense, NOT!

    Gee, I can buy a hand held el-cheapo GPS for $50.

    All Apple did was screw their customers again.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • try it

      Try to bring your GPS into Egypt. Electronic items are restricted. You can bring one piece of luggage per person and it will be checked. Anything you bring in, will be checked on the way out.
      sgoodrow
      • An Egyptian friend of mine just returned from a trip

        to Dubai, then Egypt, with his iPhone (with GPS) and a $3000+ bill for 'roaming' charges... The service provider waived the charges with the condition that the customer is now locked in for the full term until the $3K charges has been paid. He can't cancel his service until then, or else! That providers is Rogers. Hmph!

        If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.
        ~ Winston Churchill
        JustDoIT
  • Of course a "terrorist" can't do this

    29? 58' 41" N 31? 7' 53" E Pyramids of Gaza. In fact you can get it off the net right down to within a few feet.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Not Gaza

      It's [i]Giza[/i] not Gaza
      dantronic
      • I'm Thinking Of Taking A Vacation

        Any ideas on places to stay on the Giza Strip?

        ;)
        itanalyst2@...
        • Gaza Strip (nt)

          nt
          tikigawd
      • Giza vs Gaza

        Gaza strip - area over which there is Israeli / Palestinian conflict

        Giza plateau - area near Cairo Egypt - location of the great pyramid (Cheops/Khufu)
        behaynes1965-100@...
    • Touche

      Actually, I was thinking the same... Aren't those pyramids somewhat static in coordinates? Who needs a GPS to figure out the exact location?

      Bureaucrats: They cut through red-tape, lengthwise!

      Off topic: Anybody heard of http://hackint0sh.org/ ? (Just google hackintosh, and see how to turn your PC into a Mac... Or is it vice-versa?)
      JustDoIT
  • RE: Apple cripples GPS in Egyptian iPhones

    Yet one more reason to stay away from Apple...once again, they are flexing their muscles and screwing their customer base...
    Ed
    web/gadget guru
    tech_ed@...
    • Interesting

      So Apple removes the GPS so they can sell the iPhone in Egypt per the Egyptian government's request. You say this is Apple "flexing their muscles", I would say this is more like caving in to a bully.

      You say Apple is screwing their Egyptian customer base by making the iPhone available sans GPS. Would the Egyptian customers base have been more or less screwed in your opinion if Apple had chosen instead not to offer the iPhone at all because they were unwilling to offer an iPhone without GPS?
      YaBaby
      • I think the point is that

        Apple caved to the will of the Egyptian government.

        It makes you wonder what other concessions they would make to earn a buck at the consumers' expense.
        tikigawd
      • The only interest Apple has

        is in selling as many products as possible, thus contributing to their bottom line profits. They will stop at nothing to sell more. More!

        That is just good business sense.

        However, the world wouldn't fall apart if Apple didn't exist either. No big deal.

        I purchased this month a Blackberry Bold 9000, and iPhone (for my son), but really wanted the HTC TyTN II running *YIKES* Windows 6 Mobile. Alas I couldn't source it locally, and wanted it NOW. Just because it was the time.

        My future smart-phone(s) will probably be based on Google's Android Initiative. By then, all mobile telephony VLSI chips will probably integrate GPS functionality...

        Alas, one of my (many) weaknesses is instant gratification. *Sigh*

        Use the force; Read the source.
        ~ OSS motto

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_software
        http://code.google.com/android/
        http://www.htc.com/www/product/tytnii/specification.html

        Instant gratification takes too long.
        ~ Carrie Fisher

        Yeah, now I have to wait another 18~24 months before I upgrade yet again.
        JustDoIT
  • RE: Apple cripples GPS in Egyptian iPhones

    Considering how employees of Apple, through their absolute hatred and contempt, have treated middle easterners and other minorities over and over in the past, I am amazed that these people (or any one else) buy this obsolete buggy garbage from apple...a marketing company with no engineers.

    Get a life people, I bought an HP iPaq for a couple of hundred dollars - it came with a phone, full featured GPS with voice directions, and oh yea a full Windows Mobile OS long before Crapple's iPhone ever existed.
    InsanelyLame
    • Dude... chill

      I've been in all aspects of IT since 1977 I'm very technically competent, and I've seen it all. All kinds of computers, all kinds of cell phones (over a dozen), and all kinds of mobile devices, smart and not-so-smart. I recently got an iPhone 16GB 3G, and I think it's the most expertly engineered device I have ever used. It's beautiful, super-easy to use, makes my not-so-old Blackberry look like a relic, and is frankly very addictive because it's just so... NICE! I also got a new MacBook Pro recently, after well over a decade of using over a dozen different laptops for everything from heavy development to multimedia, and I also see it as the most beautifully crafted machine I've ever used... it's gorgeous, simple to operate, and blazingly fast compared to any ThinkPad I've ever used, OS X beats Windows (or God Forbid... desktop Linux, which only a true geek could love) )hands down.

      Let me guess, you Apple-bashers on this forum probably hate MS and every other successful company just as much. It's sad to see these posts from people who are apparently jealous of anyone's else's success. This case was simple - either Apple "caved" to the Egyption government's request to disable the GPS for whatever their reasons were (remember Max Headroom, who said "asking is just polite demanding"), or they didn't sell iPhones in Egypt. Period. It doesn't appear that they were really given any other option.

      Apple is a commercial entity, not a sovereign nation, charged by their residual owners ("stockholders") to operate a successful, profit-making enterprise. They are not the U.S. Government, and they do not make foreign policy. They simply market their product across the globe, including in foreign countries that make their own policies regarding what will be allowed or not.

      Why is Apple such a bad guy to you people?
      AnotherVoice
      • Re: Dude U Chill Out

        Funny, I too have been into a vast array of IT since the Altair 8800 built from a kit that appeared in Popular Electronics, back in 1975... Worked my way up from punched tape, verbatim tapes, 8' SSSD floppy under UCSD Pascal, and been active with Mainframes (MVS), Minis (PDP8-11), all the way up to today's state-of-the-art Information Systems.

        What's up with all the Apple freaks? For sure they make nice products, but don't forget that OS-X the 10th version of Apple OS, invalidates all prior nine operating systems as JUNK.

        And Apple OS-X is based on FreeBSD, an open-source Unix look-alike, available for the PC back in 1992, with a artsy-fartsy GUI. Whoopy Doo..

        Anyway, don't let yourselves be duped by Apple's propaganda, nowadays, the MAC is a mere PC, using X86 CPU architecture, and a PC operating system.

        Just this month I acquired a BlackBerry Bold 9000 for myself, and an 8GB iPhone for my twelve year old son.

        Apple isn't a bad guy to anybody, except those cynics that have a chip on their shoulders.

        I view Apple as a good company, that builds excellent products, but that's it. No more, no less.

        And would categorize Apple as a company with genius in the marketing department, not the engineering department.

        Don't forget that a MAC is merely a computer with training wheels you can't remove...

        Perfect for the vulgar and computer shy people.

        BlackBerry for the pros. iPhones for the kids.

        Apple delivers style over substance. That's why they have to resort to comparing themselves to others in their commercials. LOL.

        Peace!

        PS: You want a REAL-time Operating System? Did you hear about QNX? FYI: QNX is the kernel of the CISCO IOS that controls the top level Internet...

        And I am a Linux / Unix / Microsoft aficionado, and proud of it. But also am happy with the iPhone as well. Actually my son loves it.

        Flexibility has its rewards.

        To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
        ~ Winston Churchill
        JustDoIT
      • Over a dozen hey ... OMG !!!

        Quote ... "all kinds of cell phones (over a dozen)" ...
        Hmmmm ... didn't realize there were only 12+ different kinds of cell phones out there ...

        You don't sound very competent to me, not technically or otherwise.
        RealPauper
  • What about other mobile phones with GPS?

    Are all other mobile phones with GPS similarly crippled or restricted from sale in Egypt?

    If so, what makes this a story? Is it just because *ohmighod* IT'S APPLE'S VAUNTED IPHONE that this is happening to, now?

    Of course, adding text to the story such as "Just like every other manufacturer of mobile phones with GPS functionality sold in Egypt, Apple is being required by the Egyptian government to cripple the iPhone's GPS functionality" wouldn't engender NEARLY the amount of linkbaiting and anti/pro Apple comments. No, all stories about issues between Apple and its partners, governments, or other organizations must be written in such a way as to at least leave the question of Apple's culpability ambiguous at best, and at worst target them explicitly (note that APPLE is specifically to blame in the title: "Apple cripples GPS in Egyptian iPhones"). One must be sure to stoke the anti/pro Apple comments as much as possible.
    Lun_Esex
  • who needs GPS to find the great pyramids? (nt)

    nt
    frylock