Apple to include “kill switch” feature in iOS 7, require Apple ID and password to reenable stolen devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 07:44
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

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This shouldn’t be overlooked.

According to CNN, Apple will add an Activation Lock features as part of iOS 7. The feature, which functions as a “kill switch”, will require an Apple ID and password before an iOS device’s “Find My iPhone” feature can be turned off or any data can be erased.

At a keynote address opening its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the company said the same ID and password will be needed to reactivate a device after it’s been remotely erased. The same ID and password will still be required even after the SIM card has been removed from the stolen device.

As mobile devices become more popular, stealing them has become a unique sort of crime that has law enforcement and government officials taking notice.

In New York, a special police unit has been created to deal with stolen mobile devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security researchers to demo 30-pin dock connector hack/malware injection at Black Hat next month

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Date: Friday, June 7th, 2013, 07:57
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, security, Software

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You’re not going to like this.

Per Senor O’Grady over on the Apple Core, a group of researchers from Georgia Tech have discovered a way to hack into an iPhone or iPad in less than a minute using a “malicious charger.” The group plans to present its findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on July 27, 2013.

Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song are presenting a session is called “Mactans: Injecting Malware Into iOS Devices Via Malicious Chargers” at the popular security conference next month. The name “Mactans” comes from Latrodectus Mactans, the highly venomous (and deadly) black widow spider.

According to the synopsis on the Black Hat website, the Mactans session will describe how USB capabilities can be leveraged to bypass Apple’s defense mechanisms built into the iPhone.

Jason’s got the full details, so head on over, take a gander and get ready to never completely trust your iOS device’s 30-pin dock connector again…

Developer locates data speed-throttling code in iOS for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint devices

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Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013, 06:49
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

You might not like this.

Per Joseph Brown’s iTweakiOS and Cult of Mac, specialized code exists on iPhones and iPads operating on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, which limits the devices’ network settings to effectively caps data bandwidth.

Brown took snapshots of the iOS code managing the three carriers’ network settings as applied to an iPhone 5, all of which appear to hamstring the handset’s cellular data capabilities. For example, an AT&T iPhone 5 was limited to HSDPA “Category 10,” which tops out at 14.4Mbps. The second-largest U.S. carrier’s network is capable of supporting up to HSDPA+ speeds that reach 21.1Mbps.

As for Verizon, Brown found throttling code on the telecom’s versions of the iPhone and iPad relating to its 4G LTE network. Sprint, it seems, does not have such limitations enabled for its high-speed data offerings. Apple devices running on the 3G networks owned by both Verizon and Sprint, however, are also affected by similar limitations.

Because Apple is in complete control of the code running all of its devices, it can be posited that the company instituted the bandwidth caps at the behest of its partner carriers.

“[…] from previous statements released by AT&T and many tech orginizations [sic], iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS,” Brown writes. “The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to ‘even out’ the network, even if it means Galaxy users out perform Apple devices by such large scales.”

In his testing, Brown did not find evidence of throttling on devices operating on T-Mobile’s network.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple revises store policies, now offers iPhone 5 display repairs for $149

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Date: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, 06:29
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, retail

You’ll soon be able to have your iPhone 5 screen replaced at assorted Apple Store locations for US$149, with or without AppleCare+.

Per MacRumors, changes to Apple’s repair policies first surfaced last month, where a town hall session revealed that Apple would begin in-house repairs of displays in June in an effort to save approximately US$1 billion per year.

The site heard from a tipster this morning that the new repair policy had been implemented and the changes have since been confirmed in a forum post from iPhone repair site Quick iFix. The repairs are available for cracked displays as well as screens that experience multitouch issues.

Quick iFix notes that Apple’s US$149 repair cost is competitive, causing the site to change its own repair costs. Quick iFix charged US$174.99 for a display replacement in early May, but began offering repairs for US$139.99 a few days later.

Apple’s new display repairs are in line with AppleCare+ pricing, which costs US$99 up front and then US$49 for each replacement. The repair service is a more affordable alternative for iPhone users who opted not to purchase AppleCare+, as iPhone replacement previously retailed for US$229.

Apple is expected to roll out additional in-house repair options in July, offering repairs of the iPhone’s camera, sleep/wake buttons, and logic boards. Additional changes to AppleCare are also reportedly in the works, with Apple rumored to be switching to a subscription based plan tied to customers rather than individual devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

United States Treasury Department clears way for iPhones to be sold in Iran

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 07:34
Category: iPhone, News, retail

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At long last, the iPhone is finally coming to Iran.

Per the cool cats over at The Mac Observer, the United States Treasury Department has lifted some sanctions on selling communication devices mobile phones in Iran, which means Apple can finally begin selling its popular iPhone in the country. The decision will make it easier for people in Iran to legitimately buy iPhones, iPads, and other electronics, and is a move on the part of the U.S. to help push for political freedom in the country.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that Iranians deserve access to information and to communicate with each other without fear of government retribution.

The agency released the following statement:

“To help facilitate the free flow of information in Iran and with Iranians, The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, is issuing a General License today authorizing the exportation to Iran of certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications. This license allows U.S. persons to provide the Iranian people with safer, more sophisticated personal communications equipment to communicate with each other and with the outside world. This General License aims to empower the Iranian people as their government intensifies its efforts to stifle their access to information.”

While the policy change is good news for some people in Iran, it isn’t good news for everyone in the country. The U.S. isn’t allowing companies to export products to Iran’s government, or to people or organizations on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.

The policy change will hopefully help curb incidents where companies in the U.S. refuse to sell products to people they think are Iranian nationals. Apple came under fire in 2012 when the National Iranian American Council accused the company of racial profiling over retail store employees refusing to sell iPhones to customers that spoke Farsi or appeared to be of Iranian descent.

The incidents didn’t appeared to be widespread, but did underscore the confusion that comes with government-imposed sales sanctions.

The U.S. reversal on the Iranian sanctions comes a few weeks ahead of elections in the country. Apple may not be able to ramp up sales in Iran quickly enough to get iPhones and iPads into people’s hands, but the door is now open for the company to move forward into a new market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple gearing up supply chain for September launch of next-gen iPhone

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Date: Thursday, May 30th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

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When there are rumblings in the supply chain, it sometimes leads to cool new stuff.

Per AppleInsider, a key Apple supplier has revealed that its largest North American customer is gearing up for the launch of a next-generation smartphone, suggesting Apple could be in the midst of preparing for a September launch of its next iPhone.

The comments come from Avago Technologies, the maker of custom wireless chips featured in Apple’s iPhone lineup. Analyst Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities interpreted them on Thursday as “signs of life” in Apple’s supply chain, and an indication of a likely September launch for a so-called “iPhone 5S.”

“Avago noted it is already seeing an initial ramp of a new product transition (we believe iPhone 5S) and expects a greater ramp in the following quarter (October quarter),” Um wrote in a note to investors. “We anticipate more positive supply chain news from Apple suppliers through the summer and as we get closer to product launch.”

The details put Apple’s next iPhone on track to launch a year after the iPhone 5, as that device was officially unveiled on Sept. 12 of last year. While some optimistic market watchers had hoped that Apple would launch its “iPhone 5S” at a sooner date, company CEO Tim Cook softened those expectations with comments made last month, when he signaled that major new products would arrive this fall.

Wells Fargo has maintained its “outperform” rating for AAPL stock, with a share valuation range of US$485 to US$525.

As for Apple’s next-generation iPhone hardware, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has claimed that Apple plans to embed a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button on its next handset. This addition would allow users to bypass manual password entry, and could even open up the possibility of new functionality such as secure e-wallet transactions.

Apple first signaled its interest in fingerprint scanning technology when it acquired Florida-based AuthenTec last year. That company’s flagship product was a “Smart Sensor” component that reads fingerprints and can be embedded into devices such as smartphones.

Beyond that, numerous reports have claimed that Apple’s 2013 iPhone will come with more color options beyond the current black and white offerings, while still other reports have claimed the device will include an improved camera that could capture pictures up to 12 megapixels in size.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T expands 4G LTE network to 16 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 13:04
Category: iPhone, News

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AT&T may drive you nuts at times, but they DO work on having a decent network…

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has announced its continued expansion of its 4G LTE network for customers in Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. This latest rollout is part of a larger effort on the part of AT&T to expand its network to 79 new markets over the course of the summer.

AT&T’s 4G LTE network provides data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. In recent tests, PC World found AT&T’s network, which covers 288 million people across the United States, to be the fastest among all providers in terms of download speeds.

The markets now able to access 4G LTE connections are as follows:
– Asheville, N.C.

– Casa Grande, Ariz.

– Culpepper, Va.

– Dover, Del.

– Fredericksburg, Va.

– Goldsboro, N.C.

– Leonardtown, Md.

– Linglestown, Pa.

– Longview, Wash.

– Ocean City, Md.

– Port Townsend-North Whidbey Island-Camano Island, Wash.

– Prince Frederick and Calvert County, Md.

– Roanoke, Va.

– Salem, Ore.

– Schenectady, N.Y.

– Shelton, Wash.

If you’re in any one of these areas and have noticed AT&T 4G LTE access on your iPhone, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone screen to feature “doubled” pixel count

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, 07:01
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You know that pixel count you love on your iPhone 5?

It could double with the next generation of the iPhone.

Per Weiphone and Unwired View, Apple is planning to increase the resolution of a future iPhone model to 1.5 million pixels — double that of the pixel count on the current iPhone 5.

The details come from a report by Chinese-language Weiphone, which claims that the next-generation Retina display will be featured on Apple’s next-generation handset, whether it be known as the “iPhone 5S” or “iPhone 6.” The report claimed that the next iPhone will continue to have the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5.

In addition, the report claimed that the iPhone 5 will have an even thinner bezel than its current design, suggesting Apple will borrow design elements from its popular iPad mini. Finally, it was claimed that Apple’s next iPhone will begin shipping in September.

The current iPhone 5 has a pixel count of nearly 730,000 thanks to its screen resolution of 1,136 by 640 pixels. That works out to 326 pixels per inch on the 4-inch display.

Apple introduced the “Retina display” branding for its screens with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. That handset featured a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels, double that of its predecessors.

At the time, Apple’s Retina display was a market-leading feature for the iPhone. But since then, devices like the HTC One, with a 468-pixel-per-inch display, have provided intense competition.

The HTC One crams a 1080p-resolution screen, the equivalent of a full-fledged high-resolution television, into a 4.7-inch space. That’s more than 2 million pixels, putting it at a density substantially higher than Apple’s iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Best Buy to begin $50 discount off iPhone 5 beginning this Sunday

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 24th, 2013, 06:59
Category: iPhone, retail

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The shall be SAVINGS this holiday weekend!!!

Per AllThingsD, retailer Best Buy will be extending a US$50 discount on every current iPhone offering when purchased with a 2 year contract starting this Sunday. This promotion is said to make a 4 week run and will drop the price of an iPhone 5 down to just US$150.

Historically speaking, iPhones do not typically see many discounts until they near the end of their life cycle when retailers try to clear old stock. But the iPhone 5 has been on sale a couple times already, as low as US$127 from a Walmart in-store promotion. It’s believed that increased competition from low-cost smartphones and retailers attempting to drive traffic into stores are catalysts for these promotions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen any spiffy Mac discounts for the holiday weekend, please let us know in the comments.

Apple receives patents for push-to-talk, double-sided touch panel features

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, 11:30
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News, Patents

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If you’re hankering for new hardware features on a next-gen iPhone, the patent office is on your side.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently published 26 newly granted patents for Apple, and among them were the Cupertino company’s take on a push-to-talk feature and a double-sided touch-sensitive panel, both of which could possibly appear in future iPhones.

No current models of Apple’s bestselling iPhone support the Push-to-Talk (PTT) feature that many carriers have made available for years now. Users do have access to a number of apps in the iTunes App Store that can reproduce PTT, but U.S. Patent No. 8,447,341 indicates that Apple has at least considered integrating it into a model of its phone.

The patent notes that telecommunications networks exist that enable devices to directly access each other through a digital two-way radio feature.

Apple’s invention, though, describes “a method and system to provide push-to-talk from one user to another in a wireless packet data telecommunications network.” It includes a packet data network with at least one mobile station, a radio access network, a location server, registrar, database server, and PTT server that connects PTT users across the network.

Given the company’s secrecy about forthcoming products, it’s difficult to gauge how likely PTT is to show up in a future iPhone model. In 2010, the company was revealed to be exploring PTT capabilities, but such features haven’t emerged in any models to date.

The filing lists the patent as a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/028,086, filed on December 21, 2001. That patent application, entitled “Push-to-Talk Telecommunications System Utilizing a Voice-Over-IP Network,” was originally filed by Nortel Networks. The patent granted on Tuesday was likely a part of the portfolio Apple and other companies bought in 2011 for US$4.5 billion.

Included among the 26 patents granted on Tuesday is one for a “double-sided touch sensitive panel and flex circuit bonding.” The patent — U.S. Patent No. 8,446,386 — relates to the creation of a multi-touch sensor using a substrate with column and row traces on either side. The process bonds printed flex circuits to directly opposing attachment areas of a substrate.

The patent cites the desirability of keeping “the overall size of the sensor panel as small as possible” as a reason to “have two flex circuits connect to directly opposing sides of the sensor panel.” It’s therefore likely that this technology would go toward Apple’s continual push to make each of its devices thinner than the previous generation.

Other patents granted on Tuesday include ones for “gesture control of multimedia editing applications,” “methods and apparatus for decreasing power consumption and bus activity,” “techniques for versioning file systems,” “technique for visually compositing a group of graphical objects,” a “system for optimizing graphics operations,” and a “touch pad for handheld device.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.