This guy noticed with the 10.4.7 update there were some interesting phone-home things going on. The comments dig into the new process called dashboardadvisoryd, which seems to snag two apple.com resources. The support note says “You can now verify whether or not a Dashboard widget you downloaded is the same version as a widget featured on (www.apple.com) before installing it.”
There is no doubt Apple collects statistics on their website traffic. No one is arguing that for Dashboard to work effectively, it needs to connect to the Internet. Is it ok for these two things to combine? As computer users, should we give up a little privacy to ensure security? I suppose the bigger picture is the boiled frog syndrome, where we continue to slowly give up our information until the web knows more about us than we know ourselves.
To date, Apple has a pretty good track record in this arena, and dashboardadvisoryd hasn’t shown it collects your ‘Me card’ from your address book and ships it off to Apple along with the last 50 websites visited. It does seem that Apple is on the look out for outdated widgets and creating an update mechanism for these miniapps. Perhaps this little process is capable of acting as a sort of antispyware mechanism as well.
Trust me on this, the days of spyware widgets are near. If you know that, and you’re on Apple’s Dashboard team, how do you prevent that day from ever occuring? By keeping one step ahead of the people who would make such a widget.
Apple has posted a response via CNET