Apple files patent for iOS device “kill switch” technology

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Date: Monday, August 23rd, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

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An Apple patent application filed earlier this year could allow the company to more directly interact with jailbroken iOS-based devices such as iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

Per CNET, Apple’s patent ‘Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,’ includes a remote “kill switch” that could quickly restore an iPhone, iPod or iPad to its factory settings.

Along with the potential to restore factory settings, Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via email or text message when such activity as “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card.” is detected CNET adds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, magazine publishers reach accord on subscription pricing through iPad

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:58
Category: iPad, News

On Thursday, People became the first print magazine to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application Thursday, apparently paving the way for others to follow.

Per Fortune, Time Inc. broke the impasse that has existed for months between publishers and Apple. He said that Time’s other publications are expected to follow the same path as People in the next 30 days, including Fortune, Time, and Sports Illustrated.

“It’s not clear what took so long,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt wrote. “Publishers who were encouraged to build iPad apps by Steve Jobs himself say they were ready from the start to make them free to subscribers. Until now, however, Apple would neither give them the tools they needed, nor explain what was holding them up.”

He added: “The publishers still can’t sell subscriptions through the App Store, which is how they would prefer to do it.”

Last month, it was noted that Time and other magazine publishers were frustrated as they were blocked from allowing subscribing customers the ability to access a digital version of the magazine on the iPad. Publishers said that Apple had rejected the option without explaining its policy.

Users, instead, were left only to pay the US$4.99-per-issue newsstand price of publications like Sports Illustrated, which led to extremely negative reviews on the App Store.

Magazine officials were surprised by Apple’s rejection, as the company made a major effort to reach out to them and others. Officials were reportedly under the impression that subscription plans were acceptable to Apple.

Some iPad App Store software, such as Amazon’s Kindle, or The Wall Street Journal’s application, allow for customers to be charged directly instead of buying an application. But other content providers, like The New York Times, have yet to offer digital subscriptions.

Apple seeds seconds Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta to developers, no known issues reported

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:03
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Thursday seeded the latest beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5, its forthcoming security and maintenance update for the Snow Leopard operating system, with no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta, dubbed 10H529, said Apple has asked developers to focus on 3D graphics, Mail, printing, QuickTime, and the X Windows X11 subsystems. The Delta Update is reportedly a 558MB download.

The latest beta comes just 6 days after the previous build, 10H525, was seeded to developers. Apple was originally expected to begin seeding the first 10.6.5 builds to developers in July.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 was released in mid-June, packing fixes for trackpads on Apple’s notebook computers, and also addressing issues with Adobe’s Creative Suite 3. It also included Safari 5, Apple’s latest Web browser.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.3.4 versions, patches security holes

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Adobe released a long-awaited patch that addresses a number of vulnerabilities in versions of its Acrobat Pro and Reader offerings.

The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, address security vulnerabilities while providing additional stability.

Acrobat Reader 9.3.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Patent describes how future iPhones could recognize, adjust for individual users

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPhone, Patents

Since patents make life interesting, a recently published patent describes a technology that could rely on a user’s picture or the sound of their voice which future portable devices from Apple could recognize and use as login information.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week revealed a patent application from Apple entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device.” The security-centric invention describes methods to identify users through a picture, the sound of their voice, or even their unique heartbeat.

“The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match,” the application reads. “If they do not match, the current user can be detected as an unauthorized user.”

If an unauthorized user were to attempt to access an iPhone or another device, the owner of the handset could be notified in a variety of manners, including a phone call, text message or e-mail. The technology could also send the owner or the police a picture of the unauthorized user, or other information specific to the potential thief, such as the current location.

The handset could also recognize an unauthorized user if they do certain uncharacteristic activities with the phone. Specifically named are hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removing a SIM card.

But beyond security, such technology could also be used to identify individual users and allow users who share a product, like an iPad, to customize it to their liking. Apple has shown interest in such capabilities for some time.

Prior to the iPad’s release, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family. Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up.

One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Apple’s security-centric patent application was first filed on Feb. 19, 2009. It is credited to Taido Nakajima, Pareet Rahul and Gloria Lin.

The invention is also not the first time Apple has explored recognizing users by their heartbeat. One patent application revealed in May dealt specifically with that technology, describing a heart rate monitor seamlessly built in to the exterior of an iPhone. Reading a user’s unique biometric data, the iPhone could then recognize them.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to offer live FiOS TV streaming app over Wi-Fi for iPad

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, News

An upcoming iPad app from Verizon will enable subscribers of Verizon’s FiOS service to stream live TV over their home Wi-Fi networks.

Per NewTeeVee, Verizon released an announcement regarding several new video applications for its TV and video services. The upcoming iPad app, which is due out early next year, will utilize what Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir called “cloud TV.” Usage will initially be limited to within FiOS subscribers’ own homes.

According to Verizon, the technical aspects for the app already in place, and the last hurdle is the company’s ongoing talks with content partners to work out the legality of streaming to the device. Verizon claimed it should already have streaming rights, since the iPad is “just another screen in the home.”

Kheradpir showed the nearly finished app streaming a live CNN video. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, has been working together with Verizon to develop the app. While several other content providers are also working on their own iPad apps, Verizon’s efforts stand out because it hopes to offer streaming content rather than offer remote control features.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VLC 1.1.3 update released

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 05:10
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.3. The new version, a 39.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Taglib crash (CVE-2010-2937 / VideoLAN-SA-1004)

- Fixes for FTP relative paths and directories.

- Fixes for Podcast and DVD modules.

- Extensions and scripts updates.

- Miscellaneous fixes in interfaces.

- Updated translations.

- Many other crashes and errors fixed.

VLC 1.1.3 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback about it, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple testing NFC-enabled iPhones to use as mobile payment devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Following news that Apple recently hired an expert on near field communications, a new rumor suggests that the company is already testing a prototype iPhone that could be used for short-range wireless activities such as making in-store transactions.

Citing anonymous sources close to the store, web site TechCrunch reported Tuesdsay that Apple has already built NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor. The report alleged that Apple is already testing mobile payments for use in a future iPhone.

“The existence of prototypes would almost surely suggest that Apple will include NFC in iPhone 5, or whatever Apple decides to call its next iPhone,” author Steve Cheney wrote. The report also speculates that NFC could be used for high-speed wireless data transfers and proximity-based features between compatible Apple devices.

On Monday, it was revealed that Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, who has been working with NFC technology since 2004. His previous role was project manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry, a company that specializes in mobile payments.

Support for RFID or a number of other NFC technologies could allow a variety of “touchless” technologies, ranging from swipe payments where an iPhone could be used to pay for items at checkout, or sensing of information from kiosks and objects.

Apple’s interest in NFC is well established and has turned up in numerous patent applications filed by the company. A recent filing from July described a system that would allow users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.

Last year, reports suggested that Apple had tested Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, in prototype iPhones. The technology allows a device to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without making direct contact or without using visible light, like a barcode reader.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO announces iPad version of streaming video service

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:34
Category: iPad, News, Software

Premium cable network HBO has announced that the company will offer a new iPad application that will allow subscribers to stream the network’s content on the go.

Per Bloomberg, the HBO Go service will be extended to paying subscribers at no additional cost, co-president of HBO Eric Kellser told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The streaming service will be available on Apple’s iPad, as well as other mobile devices and through all major cable systems.

HBO’s decision to push its own streaming service comes as the cable network has refused a deal with video rental service Netflix, which has pushed hard to broker a deal. Kessler said he finds “value in exclusivity,” and believes consumers “are willing to pay a premium for high quality, exclusive content.”

HBO, owned by Time Warner, is home to such popular, original shows as “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” and “Sex and the City.”

The HBO Go service is currently a Web-based streaming offering. Kessler did not elaborate as to whether its extension to the iPad would be in the form of an HTML5-based website, or a unique application written specifically for the iPad.

A final launch date for the iPad version of the HBO Go service has yet to be announced.

Philadelphia school district avoids spying charges in 2009 MacBook case

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 05:05
Category: MacBook, News

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Per the Associated Press, a Philadelphia school district has avoided charges from federal prosecutors following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the MacBook spying case. US Attorney David Memeger claims investigators could not find any evidence of criminal intent by school employees.

Following up on a controversy from last year, the school district admitted to retaining thousands of screenshots from MacBook webcams provided to students. The images were reportedly used to help recover missing laptops, although several employees referred to the pictures as a “soap opera.” The tracking system was also said to have been activated on a number of occasions after the computers were recovered.

Although prosecutors declined to file charges, the school district was sued by a student and his family over invasion of privacy. The lawsuit has yet to be settled outside of court.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.