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Apple working on fixes for posted iOS security holes

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 10:25
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, security

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This probably won’t make you feel safer about the security on your iOS device…

Per Macworld,

Apple said on Thursday that it is developing a fix for vulnerabilities that affect its iPhone, iPad and some iPod touch models, a problem that the German government warned could be used to steal confidential data.

The vulnerabilities became publicized with a new release on Wednesday of JailbreakMe 3.0, a framework that allows unauthorized applications to be installed in devices such as the iPhone.

Apple prohibits the installation of applications that have not been approved for distribution in its App Store. But hackers have used vulnerabilities in the iOS operating system that allow the phones to be “jailbroken,” allowing applications not vetted by Apple to be used that are obtained through alternative application markets such as Cydia.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, issued an alert on Wednesday about the vulnerabilities, which it said could be exploited if a user opened a specially crafted PDF document. The issue involves how the iOS parses fronts within the mobile version of the Safari browser.

There is also a second vulnerability that circumvents ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), a security feature which mixes up how programs are loaded into memory and makes it more difficult for an attacker.

BSI noted that it would be possible for an attacker using the flaws to steal passwords, banking data and e-mails as well as have access to built-in cameras, intercept telephone calls and obtain the GPS coordinates of a user.

Apple rarely comments on security issues. But on Thursday, Alan Hely senior director for corporate communications in London, said in a statement that “Apple takes security very seriously, we’re aware of this reported issue and developing a fix that will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

The BSI wrote that the devices affected are the iPhone 3G and devices running iOS versions up to 4.3.3. Also affected are both iPad models and iPod Touch models running iOS versions up to 4.3.3.

One of the hackers behind JailbreakMe, Comex, published a fix for the vulnerability called PDF Patcher 2, which is now in the Cydia app store. It will only work if people install JailbreakMe, which Apple discourages.

“Until Apple releases an update, jailbreaking will ironically be the best way to remain secure,” according to a note on the JailbreakMe website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to kill unlimited data calling plans on Thursday, offers alternatives

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News

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It was nifty while it lasted.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Verizon, will not allow customers, including those who buy an iPhone, to be able to purchase the carrier’s unlimited data plan.

This Thursday, July 7, is when Verizon will begin offering its “usage-based” billing for mobile customers, spokeswoman Debra Lewis said. The change will not affect current smartphone customers of Verizon.

In addition, current smartphone customers who are upgrade-eligible will be allowed to move to another smartphone and retain their plan. But new customers or current customers who do not have a smartphone plan will only be able to buy a “usage-based” plan, Lewis told AppleInsider on Tuesday.

“We have lots of different ways for customers who may not be accustomed to this kind of stuff to check their usage in terms of data alerts, online tools, data calculators, things like that to help people decide what is the right plan for them,” she said.

New smartphone customers will be able to choose from four different capped monthly data plans: US$10 for 75MB, US$30 for 2GB, US$50 for 5GB, and US$80 for 10GB. Users who go over their monthly allotment will be charged US$10 per gigabyte, or US$10 per 75MB on the entry-level plan.

Users will also be able to add the “Mobile Hotspot” tethering feature to an iPhone or other compatible smartphone for US$20 per month. That plan will also net them an additional 2GB of data.

Tuesday’s news confirms an earlier leak that Verizon would switch to a usage-based model starting on July 7. Current smartphone customers can buy an unlimited plan from Verizon for US$29.99 per month.

Verizon’s transition comes more than a year after AT&T implemented its own tiered data plans, which retails for US$25 per month for 2GB, or US$15 a month for 200MB. AT&T customers and iPhone users also have the option of a tethering plan that offers 4GB total for US$45 per month. AT&T charges an overage of US$10 per gigabyte.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to begin offering Asurion Mobile insurance plan for iPhone users on July 17th

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 08:49
Category: iPhone, News

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If you’ve got something that’s important to you, then no one can ever say you were a fool to insure it.

Per Engadget, iPhone owners will be able to sign up for an Asurion Mobile Insurance plan for US$5 per month starting July 17th. The insurance plan can be added to the handset within 30 days of purchase and may include a deductible.

The documentation on AT&T’s website has not been updated to include the iPhone, although similar handsets have a US$125 replacement charge. This is a welcome change in plans for new iPhone owners as the previous insurance offering retailed for US$12 per month and included a substantial US$199 deductible.

If you’ve found a killer insurance outfit for your electronics, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen iPhone in September, orders 15 million units from Pegatron

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:14
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The time to the iPhone 5′s release is apparently now two months and counting.

Per Digitimes, Apple is rumored to have ordered 15 million iPhone 5 units from Taiwanese notebook manufacturer Pegatron Technology has received orders for 15 million units from Apple. The company has declined to comment on the report.

Pegatron produced somewhere in the region of four million iPhone 4s for Apple in the first quarter of 2011, though due to a slump in iPhone 4 sales this figure was well down on the 10 million it had prepared to manufacture.

The shipping date won’t come as a surprise to industry-watchers: Apple traditionally holds a music-themed event in September and rumours that the next-generation iPhone would be announced then strengthened after no new iPhone was revealed during June’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

However, the reports do seem to contradict earlier information from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty that suggested iPhone 5 production would not begin until mid- to late August.

Digitimes reports that the iPhone 5 “does not seem to have any major update from iPhone 4″ and refers to it as the iPhone 4S at one stage in the article.

Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that production of touch sensors for the iPad 2 has reached five million a month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mophie releases updated juice pack air case for iPhone 4

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 07:06
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

Accessory maker Mophie recently announced the availability of a new design for their highly popular and useful juice pack air battery extender for iPhone 4. The Mophie juice pack air snap case (US$79.95) is available at Apple Stores and other retailers. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the Juice Pack Air still offers virtually double the battery capacity of the stock iPhone 4 with a new new design that makes it easier to access all of the switches and ports of the smartphone.

Where design changes are concerned, the previous model, splits near the top of the phone, meaning the case had to be remove to provide access to the Dock connector. The old design also had two openings on the left side of the phone for the ringer mute switch and the volume buttons, as well as a two openings on the top — one for the power switch and the other for the microphone and headphone jack.

The juice pack air snap is quite different. The bottom of the case snaps off, so you can leave the case on the iPhone if you need access to the Dock connector. The same four LEDs for determining charge status are still there, there’s still a micro-USB port on one side for charging the case, and the tiny slide switch for “charging” and “standby” is there as well.

The new case is available in two-tone black and silver; it was unclear from the press materials if the snap case will also come in the two-tone white/silver and red/silver models that were available for the previous model.

If you’ve had a chance to tinker around with the new juice pack air case, let us know.


Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to start assembling iPhone 5 in August

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 05:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Apple will begin production of fifth-generation iPhones in August ahead of a projected late third quarter launch, according to intelligence obtained by by one investment banker’s recent trip to Taiwan .

Per AppleInsider, after meetings with unnamed individuals in Taiwan last week where Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing facilities reside, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty issued a note to clients in which she confidently stated: “Apple’s next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively” into the calendar fourth quarter.

She added that, based on her intelligence, the new handset will launch and be available to consumers sometime near the end of the third calendar quarter of the year, which ends September.

As a result of the later than usual launch, Huberty shifted 2 million iPhone units from the firm’s third quarter estimates to its fourth quarter estimates, though the firm’s full year estimate of 72 million units remain unchanged. However, the analyst notes that if the next iPhone were to come out in early September, it would “drive upside” to Morgan Stanley’s lowered estimates.

Lower priced iPhones and an Apple-branded TV may also be in the works, Huberty noted. According to the analyst, Apple is forecasting a large iPhone unit increase in 2012 “on the back of new products and potentially lower price points.” Various major news outlets reported this spring that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone model, which analysts believe would help the company make gains in emerging and prepaid mobile markets.

“We also believe Apple is in the early design stages for a TV, which could add US$19 billion and US$4.50 of annual revenue and EPS longer-term,” Huberty continued. In March, the analyst reported that checks in Asia suggested Apple was working on a “Smart TV prototype.” Earlier this week, an unverified report claimed to leak Apple’s plans for iOS-powered connected TVs, citing a “former Apple executive” as the source.

In addition to Apple’s ramping up of iPhone production, Morgan Stanley sees upward pressure on iPad shipments as post-Japan earthquake product constraints have subsided. Huberty also echoed reports that improved component supply has led Apple to negotiate price cuts with some of its suppliers. Those cuts could boost margins “modestly in the June quarter and more in September,” the note read.

A recent report out of Asia said Apple has demanded 10 percent price cuts from iPad suppliers as orders increase. The report specifically cited companies supplying printed circuit boards, optical components, battery modules and touch panels as being pressured to lower prices.

Huberty sees the recent dip in Apple’s share price as a buying opportunity for investors in light of the prospect of improved shipments of the iPhone and iPad. Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating of Apple, with a price target of US$428. The company’s stock has slide more than 6 percent to US$326.35 since the beginning of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release fifth-generation iPhone in China this September

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 24th, 2011, 04:34
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Per Boy Genius Report, analyst Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said in a new note to investors on Thursday that China Mobile may receive the iPhone in September. The source is said to be an employee of China Mobile, who reportedly posted the information on “Weibo,” which is China’s version of Twitter.

The Weibo message was said to have been quickly deleted, but not before an image of the text was captured.

White noted that if the report is true, it would mean that the iPhone 5 would need to support China Mobile’s current 3G TD-SCDMA network, because the carrier’s 4G TD-LTE network is only in trials. Apple is said to have already agreed to support China Mobile’s 4G network at some point in the future.

“If this weibo message and story are true, this would represent a landmark agreement for Apple, providing the company with access to the largest wireless carrier in the world with 611 million wireless subscribers at the end of May or 68% of the total China wireless market,” White said. “Additionally, the timing would be much sooner than expected and provide another growth driver for the final months of (calendar year 2011).”

White has been on top of the Apple-China Mobile story, and earlier on Thursday offered his analysis that Apple would make great inroads in the nation, particularly by reaching an agreement with the largest carrier in the world. In addition, he believes Apple would do extremely well by releasing a smaller, cheaper iPhone that could be sold in China without a contract.

Rumors of an agreement between Apple and China Mobile picked up steam on Wednesday, when a report claimed that Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook was spotted at the carrier’s corporate headquarters. Cook was said to be in good spirits, and speculation began to swirl that the two parties are nearing a deal.

China Mobile currently uses home-grown 3G data technology that is incompatible with the existing GSM and CDMA iPhone models. Despite this fact, there are estimated to be 4 million iPhone users on the massive network, running their device at much slower 2G wireless data speeds.

The iPhone 4 launched in China on carrier China Unicom last September, drawing crowds of thousands at Apple’s retail stores. The handset debuted first in the U.S. in late June of last year.

Rumor: Apple to switch to dual-LED flash for iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 23rd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The new iPhone 5: It may just feature an even swankier flash system.

Per DigiTimes, “recent market rumors” indicate Apple’s iPhone 5 will likely come with a dual-LED flash. Taiwan-based LED packaging firms Everlight Electronics, Edison Opto and Lite-On Technology are named as potential suppliers. Although the publication has well-placed sources within the Asian supply chain, the accuracy of its Apple predictions varies significantly.

“Everlight and Lite-On have strengthened their deployments in the smartphone market for a while, with their products already being shipped to the supply chains of brand-name handset vendors,” the reported noted industry sources as saying. Meanwhile, sources said that Edison specializes in high-power LEDs and has reportedly started shipping LED flash products to branded handset vendors, giving it a “high chance” of attracting dual-LED flash orders from Apple.

It had been reported that Apple had “greatly reduced” orders for Philips LED flash components in recent months and may go with another company for the iPhone 5, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, the source indicated that “highly unconfirmed” rumors pointed to a Taiwan-based firm as the new LED flash supplier.

Apple first began using LED flash in last year’s iPhone 4.

Last month, photos of a few purported next-generation iPhone cases and parts components emerged, showing a shift in the location of the device’s camera flash. An alleged case leak showed up on a Chinese international trade site, followed by photos of a supposed fifth-generation iPhone rear camera part without attached flash. Finally, a photo of a back panel allegedly for the so-called iPhone surfaced in late May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 with 8MP camera due in September, Hi-Res iPad 3 en route

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

You may be wanting the iPhone 5 now, but you might have to wait until September while Apple tests the new handset and some other cool stuff.

Per Bloomberg, two sources familiar with Apple’s plans have stated that Apple is working on a higher resolution iPad and dropped details regarding Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 5 handset. Apple’s next iPhone “will include the A5 processor, the more powerful chip that Apple added to the iPad 2 earlier this year, along with an 8-megapixel camera, up from the 5-megapixel model in the iPhone 4,” said the publication’s sources.

As is to be expected, the new device would come with iOS 5, which is due out this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. Sources also said the new iPhone would closely resemble the iPhone 4.

The report’s insiders also rekindled a rumor that Apple is working on a cheaper version of the iPhone for emerging markets using “chips and displays of similar quality to today’s iPhone 4.” Rumors of a low-cost iPhone emerged this spring, though there is some disagreement regarding the details of the project.

“Apple is also testing a new version of the iPad that has a higher resolution screen, similar to the one now used in the iPhone 4,” the Bloomberg report cited sources as saying. The iPhone 4 currently features a Retina Display with a resolution of 960 x 640 and a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. The resolution of the next-generation iPad would be about “one-third higher” than the iPad 2′s display and will feature a more responsive touchscreen, people said.

Various reports have suggested the iPad could see a display upgrade that would double the tablet’s linear resolution to 2048 x 1536. Last week, double-resolution iPad images in the iOS 5 beta sparked renewed speculation that Apple is planning the improved display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.