stalkR: R functions for exploring iPhone and iPad (OS X only)

April 21, 2011

(This article was first published on Zero Intelligence Agents » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Yesterday Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden shocked the world by revealing that iPhones and iPads have been keeping track of our every move, and saving the data in obfuscated back up files. As my friend Vince Buffalo mentioned on Twitter, part of me was disgusted by the secret stalking Steve Jobs was doing, but my data nerd side was floored by my sudden access to vast data!

Along with their expose, Alasdair and Pete also created a great app for exploring your location data. And while this app was fun, I wanted a direct line to my data.

Enter stalkR, a set of convenience functions in R I created for exploring iPhone and iPad location data. I tried to make it as easy to use as possible, having most of the magic happen behind the scenes. To use the package you need only two bits of information: an OS X user name (the directory in /Users/), and the names of your mobile device exactly as it appears in iTunes.

For example, if I want to see what my location data looks like for the state of Maryland I execute the following simple commands:

> library(stalkR)
> drews.locs<-get.mylocations("agconway", "Drew Conway's iPhone")
> viz.locations(drews.locs, "state", "maryland")

One big limitation is that these functions only work on Mac OS X. Hopefully, someone will fork the git repository and modify it to work on other UNIX-alikes.

Finally, I threw this together very quickly, so I a sure it will break. Please let me know of any bugs you encounter.

Update: It has been pointed out to me that some functions used in stalkR require R version 2.13.

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