A decade ago, Steve Jobs admitted in an interview that Apple had the means to remotely kill core functionalities and apps on iOS devices. Apple purportedly made this possible to ensure that their hardware could not be taken over with malicious apps. I remember being very not OK with this, at the time. But over the years, I completely forgot about it.
Until this week.
From The Verge:
Yesterday a mix of people who own Google Pixel phones and other devices running Android 9 Pie noticed that the software’s Battery Saver feature had been switched on — seemingly all by itself. And oddly, this was happening when the phones were near a full charge, not when the battery was low. As reported by Android Police, initially it was assumed that this was some kind of minor bug in the latest version of Android, which was only released a few weeks ago. Some users thought they might’ve just enabled Battery Saver without realizing.
But it was actually Google at fault.
The company posted a message on Reddit last night acknowledging “an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended.” So Google had remotely — and accidentally — changed a phone setting for a bunch of real-world customers.
Sure, you can argue that it was an honest mistake made by Google's OS development team: they hadn't meant to screw with Android Pie users' handsets. Hell, as soon as it happened, Google hit the interwebz to admit to the mistake. But this oopsie-daisy speaks to a larger issue. No matter how much you paid for your handset, no matter whether you purchased it outright or subsidized it through your monthly phone bill, you don't truly own your phone. Or your tablet. Earlier this week, a lot of noise was made about an iTunes user discovering that the movies they thought they owned were no longer available.
We live in an age where many of the things that we assume we own were never truly ours. Act and shop accordingly.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Rob Bulmahn