Lawsuit alleges Bose's headphone app exfiltrates your listening habits to creepy data-miners


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/19/listening-in-on-your-listening.html


#2

why would I want an app for headphones? seriously?


#3

because you no longer have a standard audiojack with an open standard. you are now obligated, if you wish to use headphones, to get ones wired into your device’s proprietary port OR listen through wireless bluetooth. Bluetooth not good enough? don’t like the delays? want your headphones do be able to do other things besides make sound? On earpiece pause or volume, or anything like that? You will probably need an app for that. One the company that made your headphones wrote.

The app will almost certainly be just as poorly written as most custom ‘scanning software’ or printing software that comes bundled with whatever dead tree peripheral you use. And hooked up to your phone, where people can less easily control (or even KNOW) what sort of access it has to the data on there…

yuck.

So, the answer is: YOU don’t want an app for your headphones. Most people won’t realize they don’t need one and will therefore be a marketers treasure trove.


#4

I just figure the OS should be capable of handing headphones of any sort and there should not be a need for an app.


#5

If there is anything that I truly hate about recent trends in hardware and software, it’s the “because fuck you, that’s why” mentality. Windows 10, disappearing headphone jacks, data mining, the Internet of Shit, cable boxes that suck, and cloud-connected crap that shouldn’t need to be cloud-connected in the first place.

I try to vote with my wallet, but sometimes the ballot is lacking choices.


#6

I found out my fav brand of TP was reporting what I ate the night before, imagine my surprise.


#7

Bose. Keepin’ it sleazy.


#8

I write software and my favorite keyboard is Das Keyboard. The Das Keyboard 5 Q comes with software that is connected to the cloud. I don’t want my keyboard connected to the cloud. Everything is collecting data and sending it an api. We really have to take ownership of the technology we use so it serves us not them.

Just got my second Das Keyboard 4 Profession with the Cherry MX brown key switches. It’s like butter.


#9

I have a set of the Bose QC35 headphones (just bought them last week in fact), and briefly poked at the app for it. The one big thing to use the app for is firmware updates (these are noise canceling and pretty advanced headphones). It also allows you to remove bluetooth pairings on the headphones themselves, keeping the set of parings clean. Not stuff I need to do often, so I only install the app when I need it, do the small set of things on it, then remove the app. I thought I may be able to tweak the settings for the noise cancelling but no dice there.

The analog audio over USB-C connectors is a fully-open standard. Doesn’t require money to implement, and I think there’s not even any needed actives to work with it. Lightning, yeah, that’s a closed standard but that hasn’t stopped people from making compatible accessories that are unlicensed. Not a great situation there, yeah, but it works.

Thing is, I dislike the 1/8" phono connector and would love to see it go for something else. From a product design perspective it’s a terrible, terrible connector. All of the breaking stresses of the connector are primarily on the jack and not the plug, so if put the wrong force on the connector (say a sideways leverage force) you’re going to not break the plug, you’re going to break the socket. Making more robust sockets takes up a lot of space in devices, and they still break. I’m not saying that Lightning and USB-C don’t break, but they are designed in such a way, like micro-USB-B, that puts the breaking stresses primarily on the cable and not the device, the much cheaper end to either replace or repair. But, I don’t see things focusing on USB-C or some other existing connector for such purposes.

Well, having a pair of these, I may want an app for my headphones. If it had easier-to-use controls for setting things that are difficult on the device itself, say if there was a set of options for noise cancelling or something like that, sure I’d want an app for that. It’s also useful as I said to have the firmware updates done through the app (these aren’t dumb headphones). It would pretty much never be something I’d want to use all the time, and my current way of using it suits me well, but with all sorts of devices gaining in all sorts of functionality, you can’t assume that no one would not want an easier-to-use interface for their devices. :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

you would think so, but nowadays, you would be sadly wrong.


#11

To enhance your listening experience. Are you even paying attention?

What kind of backward stoneage unenhanced experience are you having when you listen?

For God’s sake, get with the program.


#12

Bonus: when your fork and TP vendors hook up, they’ll be able to compute transit times! :slight_smile:


#13

I have a set of Bose wired (non-wireless) noise cancelling headphones that is several years old. No such thing as a firmware update for these, to the best of my knowledge.

So am I right in understanding that firmware updates would pretty much be for wireless capabilities? Or do firmware updates also improve the noise cancelling abilities?


#14

I am wondering if these have fancy things like media buttons on the headphones like I have seen on some new models.


#15

Since there haven’t been any official release notes, just reports of what it fixes and breaks, I think it’s mostly wireless issues that are taken care of in the updates but there’s nothing stopping them from making changes to the noise cancelling either. Although, for the most part, there’s not a lot new happening there.


#16

About the only thing the Bose app could learn from my listening habits is that I’m not spending $350 a pair of headphones.


#17

I’ve got a set of QC35s (which are awesome, by the way) and I can’t say as I’ve ever needed their app. I’m unlikely to want to install it now, or for that matter to ever buy a Bose product again.


#18

With helpful popups on your phone: “If you eat now, you’ll be pooping at 7:45am.”


#19

Wow, another reason to avoid Bose


#20

But then how would the headphone manufacturer be able to collect and sell your data?