It looks like Apple is keeping a closer hold on the iPhone’s apron strings than anyone thought, if information uncovered by Jonathan Zdziarski is to be believed. Speaking on iPhone Atlas on Wednesday, Zdziarski – author of a book on iPhone application development – explained that he was performing “forensic examination of an iPhone 3G” when he discovered a suspicious configuration file in the CoreLocation section of the memory. Upon investigating, he discovered a link to a page on Apple’s website which appears to contain the skeleton for a future application blacklist. The page, called ‘unauthorizedApps’, seems to exist so the iPhone can occasionally download a copy and check the signatures of banned applications against installed applications – if a match is found, the app is disabled immediately. Zdziarski believes that this functionality exists “to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down.”
Clearly, there are legitimate reasons why such functionality should exist – although slightly fewer for why it’s undocumented and downright concealed – including the possibility that Apple can update iPhones with a sort of anti-malware by listing known ‘bricking’ programs in the blacklist. However, it demonstrates that even a ‘jailbroken’ iPhone might not escape Apple’s clutches for long – and how sure can you be that Installer.App or your favourite non-Apple approved software won’t hit the blacklist once it’s activated? Anyone here worried about the possibilities of a hidden remote app killer developed by Apple, or does the Cupertino company just have your best interests at heart?
Source: Bit-tech, Martin
The launch of Apple Inc.’s much-anticipated new iPhone turned into an information-technology meltdown on Friday, as customers were unable to get their phones working. “It’s such grief and aggravation,” said Frederick Smalls, an insurance broker in Whitman, Mass., after spending two hours on the phone with Apple and AT&T Inc., trying to get his new iPhone to work. In stores, people waited at counters to get the phones activated, as lines built behind them. Many of the customers had already camped out for several hours in line to become among the first with the new phone, which updates the one launched a year ago by speeding up Internet access and adding a navigation chip. A spokesman for AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S., said there was a global problem with Apple’s iTunes servers that prevented the phones from being fully activated in-store, as had been planned.
Instead, employees are telling buyers to go home and perform the last step by connecting their phones to their own computers, spokesman Michael Coe said. However, the iTunes servers were equally hard to reach from home, leaving the phones unusable except for emergency calls. The problem extended to owners of the previous iPhone model. A software update released for that phone on Friday morning required the phone to be reactivated through iTunes. When the first iPhone went on sale a year ago, customers performed the whole activation procedure at home, freeing store employees to focus on sales. But the new model is subsidized by carriers, and Apple and AT&T therefore planned to activate all phones in-store to get customers on a contract.
Souce: AP, Martin
According to a preliminary analysis by iSuppli Corp., the new Apple iPhone 3G materials and manufacturing cost is $173. The initial retail price of the phone announced by Steve Jobs will be $199. iSuppli has performed a breakdown of the costs using insights from its analysis staff to develop estimates of iPhone content, suppliers, and costs. “The new iPhone is significantly less expensive to produce than the first-generation product, despite major improvements in the product’s functionality and unique usability, due to the addition of 3G communications,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello, director and principal analyst for iSuppli.
“The original 8Gbyte iPhone carried a cost of $226 after component price reductions, giving the new product a 23 percent hardware cost reduction due to component price declines.” Tina Teng, wireless communications analyst at iSuppli, added that if the 3G iPhone design is unchanged, the cost should drop down to $126 in 2012. Although the base iPhone 3G will sell for just $199 at retail, Apple will receive far more than that with AT&T footing the bill as it does with most phones. Wireless carriers subsidize much of the cost of devices and make up the difference with revenue from new and existing subscribers.
Source: Betanews, PC World, Martin
Beatles music may soon be strumming a new tune via air guitar video games, according to a report in the Financial Times. Apple Corps and EMI, which respectively represent The Beatles’ business interests and ownership of its master recordings, have reportedly been in discussions with video game publishers Activision and MTV Games.Under a possible deal that could be worth several million dollars, users could put their air guitar to use while listening to The Beatles and playing Activision’s Guitar Hero or MTV’s Rock Band games, according to the report.
The move to push The Beatles’ music onto a new stage via video games could occur within the coming weeks, the Financial Times reported. Such a move would mark a change in embracing technology for The Beatles’ music, given that digital-use licenses for Beatles recordings are not yet available. The Beatles representatives, as well as the game publishers, declined to confirm whether a deal is on the horizon.
Source: Cnet, Martin
Security researchers reported last week that they’ve spotted a Mac Trojan horse in the wild that could compromise machines running Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5. SecureMac, a Mac-specific anti-virus vendor, posted an alert last Thursday that its researchers had found a Trojan horse, dubbed “AppleScript.THT,” being distributed from a hacker-operated site where discussions of spreading the malware via iChat, Apple’s instant messaging and video chat software, were also taking place. The company classified the threat posed by the Trojan as “critical.” The malware exploits a recently publicized vulnerability in the Apple Remote Desktop Agent (ARDAgent), part of Tiger’s and Leopard’s Remote Management component. Composed as a compiled AppleScript, or in another variant, script bundled into an application, the Trojan leverages the ARDAgent bug to gain full control of the victimized Mac.
“[It] allows a malicious user complete remote access to the system, can transmit system and user passwords, and can avoid detection by opening ports in the firewall and turning off system logging,” claimed SecureMac. “Additionally, the Trojan can log keystrokes, take pictures with the built-in Apple iSight camera, take screenshots, and turn on file sharing.” SecureMac’s warning came one day after an anonymous reader disclosed a few details of the ARDAgent vulnerability on Slashdot.org, and on the same day that rival security vendor Intego provided more information about the bug. Malicious AppleScript, said Intego, can call ARDAgent, which then gives that script full “root” access to the system. Like any Trojan horse, AppleScript.THT does not spread on its own but relies on user interaction, such as downloading and launching, to infect a machine. Trojans can also be silently introduced on a computer if it’s injected after a successful attack using another vulnerability, such as a browser bug.
Source: Computer World, Martin
Apple on Thursday said music sales on its iTunes store have topped 5 billion songs, and visitors are renting and purchasing more than 50,000 movies each day. Apple, which has surpassed Wal-Mart as the leading music retailer in the United States, put out a brief press release on the latest numbers, offering no further details. The company has a catalog of more than 8 million songs, 20,000 TV shows, and 2,000 films, including 350 in high-definition format. In announcing on April 3 that it had surpassed Wal-Mart, Apple said that it had sold more than 4 billion songs through iTunes. Given that announcement was 77 days ago, that would mean the company has sold nearly 13 million songs a day since then. Apple was not immediately available for comment.
Apple has gotten in trouble before for its iTunes math. In late April, the company said it offered 10 million songs on its 5-year-old store, but later ratcheted the number down to 6 million songs. In August 2007, the company said it had 5 million songs. Apple’s movie collection includes titles from 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures Television International, and Lionsgate. ITunes will rent and sell movies on the same day as their DVD release. Customers using Mac or Windows operating systems must have iTunes 7.6.2 or higher to buy or rent the movies.
Source: InfoWeek, Martin
Toshiba on Tuesday launched a new ultraportable laptop that it claims is the world’s lightest, putting it in contention with vendors including Apple and Lenovo. The company said the full-featured Portégé R500-S5007V weighs just 2.4 pounds (1.08 kilograms), compared to Apple’s MacBook Air, which weighs 3 pounds, and Lenovo’s Thinkpad X300, which weighs around 2.93 pounds. The laptop measures 0.77 inches at its thinnest point, according to Toshiba. The company also claimed that the new laptop was the first to include a 128G-byte solid-state drive (SSD) to replace the hard drive. Laptops to date have had 64G bytes of storage, though both Lenovo and Apple provide 128G bytes of storage through two 64G-byte modules.
Battery life is also preserved by the laptop’s transreflective 12.1-inch screen, which can shut down the LED (light-emitting diode) backlighting by reflecting the sun’s rays to illuminate the screen, according to Toshiba. For US$2,999, users can get a laptop powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 processor at 1.33GHz, with 2M bytes of cache and 2G bytes of RAM. It will come with Windows Vista Business OS, which is also downgradable to Windows XP Professional. The laptop includes a SuperMulti optical drive that can read and rewrite DVD and CD media, wired and wireless 802.11 a/g/n networking, Bluetooth 2.0 support and built-in safety features to protect laptop data during falls. The Portégé R500-S5007V is a standard configuration, however, Toshiba offers similar configurations with a hard drive option, a company spokesperson said.
Source: NY Times, Martin
In his keynote address to open Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) on Monday, Steve Jobs officially announced the iPhone 3G. Perhaps the most important revelation was the price, which at $199 for the entry level (8GB) model is half the original’s current $399 pricetag. He indicated that the price was based on research where consumers who have so far passed on the iPhone said cost was the biggest barrier. Not surprisingly he didn’t talk about his previous prediction of 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008. Why is that significant? Maybe because at the current (pre-iPhone 3G) prices it appears unlikely to happen.
In fact despite “selling out some number of weeks ago,” Jobs said only 6 million have been sold in the approximately 11 months since the initial launch on June 29 of last year. Jobs showed off the speed difference between the iPhone 3G’s “amazingly zippy” performance on newer 3G networks, compared with the EDGE connection available to owner’s of the original. The same web page that took nearly a minute to load using an EDGE connection took just over 20 seconds across 3G. He also compared it to a Nokia N95 and Treo 750, which reportedly took 33 and 34 seconds respectively to load the same page (using 3G) while delivering it in a less complete mobile format. He also pointed out that 3G speed is “actually approaching Wi-Fi.”
Other changes include the use of plastic instead of aluminum for the back (presumably to bring production costs down), as well as the addition of a 2 Megapixel camera and GPS. Near the end of his presentation a map showed 70 countries where the 3G iPhone will officially be available while ‘It’s a Small World’ played in the background. By contrast, the original iPhone is only offered in 6 countries. The iPhone 3G’s initial launch, on July 11, will actually only include 22 countries, with the other 48 planned by year’s end.
Source: Afterdawn, Martin
Samsung Electronics South Korea released on early Monday preview details on the company’s new smartphone, before the mania of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference begins in California. The Samsung Omnia (SGH-i900) is similar in looks and function to the Samsung Instinct (SPH-M800), but with a few more bells and whistles. For starters, it sounds like it has a very promising camera. With five megapixels and anti-shake technology, this may be the first camera on a phone that produces pictures you would actual think of printing, not just posting to Facebook. This is an improvement over the 2-megapixel cameras on both the first-generation iPhone and on the Samsung Instinct.
The touch-screen smartphone, which runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 and features Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Opera 9.5 as its Web browser, will also have Wi-Fi. That’s something the Instinct also lacks. Like the Instinct, the Omnia has visual voice mail, 3G capability, Bluetooth, an FM radio, and GPS functionality. The smartphone, of course, also doubles as a music player and, with 16GB, will be able to hold up to 4,000 songs or 100 minutes of video, according to Samsung. The Omnia (SGH-i900) will become available in Southeast Asia first and then be launched to other markets over the second half of 2008, according to Samsung.