O'Grady's PowerPage » iPhone

Review: Find My iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 21st, 2010, 11:28
Category: iPhone, Review, Software

By Steve Abrahamson

Friday, Apple released the Find My iPhone app (in truth it’ll find your iPad too). In this reviewer’s opinion, this is an app that should have been here a year ago, but I’m just glad it’s finally here.

Having this as an app is a terrific idea. A case study: early last year, before you could even get to Find My iPhone in Mobile Safari, my wife misplaced her phone, and we had to go home to find where she lost it. If we’d had this, I could have found it while we were still out – and it turns out, near where she’d left her iPhone. For families with more than one iDevice, this app makes a great functionality more accessible.



With tools this powerful, however, comes increased risk. Improper access to this functionality in the wrong hands could easily offer the potential for serious stalking, and Apple stands in the way by insisting on login credentials for the device you’re looking for, each time you launch the app.

Unfortunately, it “offers” you the same Login ID you last used to successfully log in – and there does not appear to be any way to clear it, even between sessions. I tried deleting the ID, but the app remembered the last successful login and “offered” it when I re-launched the app; so it doesn’t remember null values. I tried replacing the ID with a random word, but that wouldn’t stick either. Power cycling the iPhone didn’t even clear it.

Not only does the app offer whoever is launching it a user ID, it ignores non-valid ones: anyone launching the app can therefore be assured that any ID they find there is a real, valid ID.

I understand the desire to offer a helping hand to the end user, but this “offering” an email address – one of only two pieces of security info – blindly to whoever is holding the device is exactly the sort of thing AT&T got into mighty hot water for just two weeks ago, exposing millions of email addresses with iPads. This isn’t Facebook. This is an app that will silently give you the accurate location of a person (well, their iPhone, but that’s probably the same thing), or even let you lock them out or destroy their data.

For an app this powerful, with these kinds of security implications, “convenient” should lose to “secure.”

All Apple needs to do to fix this is rev the app to let it forget the login credentials between sessions. This otherwise wonderful little app would be so much the better for it.

Steve Abrahamson is a technologist and Certified FileMaker developer in Chicago. He has a small development firm, Ascending Technologies (http://www.asctech.com), and is really just a technofetishist writing software as a cover to buy more toys.

Customers receive shipment dates, expected arrival times for iPhone 4 handsets

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 21st, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPhone, News

Just a couple more days and you’ll have your mitts on it.

Per iLounge, Apple has started shipping iPhone 4 units to customers who pre-ordered the handset last week.

According to shipment details seen by one customer, the phones appear to be shipping directly out of Shenzhen, China. Based on reports from readers, some shipping estimates list June 23rd instead of June 24th; however, Apple has in the past halted shipments that would have arrived earlier in order to coincide with its pre-announced launch date.

Apple will officially launch the iPhone 4 in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Japan on June 24th.

If you’ve heard about the arrival date on yours, please let us know.

E3 2010: Gameloft demos assorted iPhone/iPad titles en route to market

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 16:19
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

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Over at E3, mobile publisher Gameloft introduced a slew of iPhone and iPad titles over the course of the week.

Per Macworld, Gameloft will release the following titles to the iPhone and iPad:

Hero of Sparta 2:
In the coming months, Gameloft will release Hero of Sparta 2, the sequel to the adventure title in which the player must follow avenge his homeland after finding everything he knows has been destroyed. Although no firm release date has been set, the title has been confirmed for both the iPhone and iPad.

Splinter Cell: Conviction for iPad:
The first Splinter Cell game for the iPad, Splinter Cell: Conviction places you in the middle of a plot where stealth means everything. A final release date has yet to be confirmed, though the game seems to be a better fit on the larger iPad than the iPhone.

Ultimate Spiderman: Total Mayhem:
Set in the comic book style of the hero’s roots, Ultimate Spiderman: Total Mayhem has you control Spiderman as he battles criminals and super villains while web swinging throughout the world of New York.

Expect to see this title within the App Store before too long and this proved promising.

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
In addition to providing applications in the stealth and brawler genres, Gameloft is producing some new titles in the platformer genre as well. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within was originally released on consoles in 2004 but is getting its own iPad version in July of this year.

Like the console version, expect to wall jump, backflip, dispose of several demonic guards, and then maybe slide down a banner for good measure. The current build looks on par with the 2004 release, which was still impressive and the title itself played pretty smoothly.

Let’s Golf 2:
Let’s Golf 2 will hit the iPhone this July and features eight characters with their own powers as well as over 108 holes of golf. Users will be able to travel to six exotic locations including Aztec ruins, African jungles, and Greenland.

Other new features Gameloft will add to Let’s Golf 2 include new leaderboards and ways to challenge your friends, a new career mode, and new achievements to unlock.



Rumor: Verizon/CDMA-compatible iPhone in production

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 06:20
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Maybe it’s a “Braveheart” thing; you can’t kill a legend. Or at least a rumor.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is allegedly manufacturing a CDMA iPhone compatible with the Verizon network, the report alleging that the handset will begin shipping to Apple in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes reported Thursday that Pegatron Technology has received orders from Apple for a CDMA iPhone 4, according to industry sources. Those orders are expected to help the company grow its revenues in 2011.

“Pegatron will also start shipping a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 to Apple in the fourth quarter and is currently using its plants in Shanghai, China to produce the products, the sources noted,” the report said. “The company is also working on gaining orders for MacBooks and iPads from Apple.”

Pegatron manufactures products in a number of markets, including notebook and desktop computers, TV set top boxes, cable modems, game consoles, LCD TVs, digital music players, handsets, tablet PCs and e-book readers.

The latest DigiTimes rumor stated that Apple was working on two new phones: the iPhone 4, to be launched next week, and a new Verizon-compatible CDMA phone that the newspaper said would go into mass production in September. The report also stated that Pegatron Technology would handle the manufacturing of the CDMA iPhone.

In May, DigiTimes reported that Pegatron had won the contract from Apple to produce a CDMA iPhone. Previous iPhones were built by Foxconn, which also assembles Apple’s Mac mini, iPods and the iPad, and is the company’s main supplier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 4 preorders rescheduled to arrive on July 2nd

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

Following yesterday’s interesting events in which Apple sold out of launch day preorders for the upcoming iPhone 4 handset, new orders from the company’s website are now said to ship by July 2, more than a week after the handset’s launch date.

Per AppleInsider, the delay for those who didn’t get in on the first round of preorders applies to both the 16GB and 32GB capacities of iPhone 4. Customers can only preorder the black model, as the white iPhone 4 is currently unavailable for any reservation.

As this is happening, the iPhone 3GS is still marked for delivery on the June 24th launch date.

Apple’s update follows news on Tuesday from AT&T, the exclusive wireless provider of the iPhone in the U.S., which also sold out of its launch day allotment. New orders placed directly through AT&T will not arrive until June 25th or later, “depending on when the order is placed,” the company said.

AT&T revealed that the first day of preorders for iPhone 4 was the busiest online sales day in the company’s history. The company’s systems had difficulty authorizing existing customers for upgrades, and Apple also began rejecting callers from its 800-MY-APPLE number.

Apple changes iOS SDK rules to accept Lua but restrict Flash

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Something about this reminds me of when the cool kids wanted to keep the nerds out of the clubhouse, if only on principle.

According to AppleOutsider, Apple has changed its iOS SDK rules for iPhone developers have relaxed the restriction of section 3.3.2 pertaining to interpreted code, enabling Apple to forbid Flash and other middleware platforms while still enabling popular game engines and libraries.

When the 3.3.2 rules were first published, the restriction stated that iOS apps must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript, and that “no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).”

Apple’s goal seemed to be limited to stopping third parties from shifting iPhone developers from using Apple’s own Xcode development tools and instead making them dependent upon their own middleware meta-platforms.

The most obvious example of this was Adobe’s efforts to turn its Flash Professional CS5 application into a product that could export iPhone apps, facilitating cross platform development centered on Flash as a platform rather than Apple’s own Cocoa Touch.

Apple’s 3.3.2 restriction made it clear the company would refuse to sell such apps in its iTunes Store.

Strangely enough, the wording of the restriction appeared to also target any iOS apps that might include any interpreted code, including a large number of games that make use of general purpose, reusable code engines or libraries to expedite development.

Adobe has argued that any iOS restrictions on development with its Flash tools would also halt the use of popular game engines or libraries such as Unity 3D and Lua. Such a situation would imperil many popular iPhone games that Apple has already approved (and often singled out for targeted promotion), including Tap Tap Revenge and Rolando.

The latest modifications to the 3.3.2 section indicate Apple won’t be forced to dump popular, existing titles just to block middleware meta-platforms as a threat to iOS development. The most recent wording of the iOS SDK, published by Matt Drance of Apple Outsider, articulates an additional option Apple can invoke when choosing to approve apps:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple’s prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.”

Drance notes, “these new terms seem to acknowledge that there’s a difference between an app that happens to have non-compiled code, and a meta-platform.”

AT&T reveals customer protection plan for recent iPhone 3GS buyers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 08:42
Category: iPhone, News

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For those of you who recently snagged an iPhone 3GS at the old price of US$199 for the 16GB model or US$299 for the 32GB model (the two models having been lowered to US$149 and US$199, respectively with a US$99 8GB model being the last to go), AT&T is said to be offering a “one-time Customer Price Protection” plan, giving credit for the difference.

Per modmyi.com, customers who purchased a 3GS between May 7th and the 14th are said to have until June 14th to visit their AT&T store and claim US$50 off the cost of a 16GB phone, or $100 off of a 32GB model. For those who made a purchase between May 15th and June 7th, a 30-day window should be in effect. Alternately, customers within either timeframe (including buyers of the iPhone 3G) can go without a discount and trade in towards an iPhone 4.

A new flyer reveals that AT&T plans to open its retail locations at 7AM on June 24th iPhone 4 launch. Some restrictions apply, namely that new AT&T customers will only be able to buy one phone and activate one line on that day. Existing subscribers will be able to buy one phone per active number.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T web site hacked, iPad 3G user emails leaked

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 04:23
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, News

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A good hack can be seen in one of two ways:

1. It keeps a company on its toes and aware of what might come at it.

2. It’s less-than-wonderful news that makes you wonder how your information was exploited and makes a lot of people slam their heads against their desks in frustration.

Per Gawker, a group of black hat hackers have exploited a security flaw on AT&T’s web servers which enabled them to obtain email addresses from the SIM card addresses of iPad 3G users.

The breach described the event as “another embarrassment” for Apple and outlined a variety of high profile individuals whose email addresses were obtained by automated script attacks on AT&T’s web server based on their iPad 3G SIM addresses (ICC ID).

The publication claimed that the identifying information meant that thousands of iPad 3G users “could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking,” while also pointing out that many users have actually already published their iPad ICC ID numbers in Flickr photos. Presumably, many of them also have public email addresses and therefore already receive spam like the rest of us.

The attack on AT&T’s web servers resulted in at least 114,000 iPad 3G users’ emails being leaked to the hackers, who were coy as to whether they were planning to enable others to access the data. The security leak, which returned a user’s email address when their ICC-ID was entered via a specially formatted HTTP request, has since been patched.

The group automated requests of the email address information for a wide swath of ICC-ID serial numbers using a script. No other information was discovered.

The report suggested that having known ICC IDs would leave iPad 3G users vulnerable to remote attacks, citing the attackers involved in the security breach as claiming that “recent holes discovered in the GSM cell phone standard mean that it might be possible to spoof a device on the network or even intercept traffic using the ICC ID.”

In its report, Gawker cited telephony security experts who disputed that the ICC ID email breach was a serious issue. “Vulnerabilities in GSM crypto discovered over the years, none of them involve the ICC ID […] as far as I know, there are no vulnerability or exploit methods involving the ICC ID, ” said Emmanuel Gadaix, a mobile security consultant.

The report also noted that Karsten Nohl, a “white hat GSM hacker and University of Virginia computer science PhD,” informed them “that while text-message and voice security in mobile phones is weak,” the “data connections are typically well encrypted […] the disclosure of the ICC-ID has no direct security consequences.”

At the same time, Nohl described AT&T’s lapse in publishing the email information as grossly incompetent, saying, “it’s horrendous how customer data, specifically e-mail addresses, are negligently leaked by a large telco provider.”

On Wednesday, AT&T issued the following statement regarding the breach:
“This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday. We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses… may have been obtained.”

Either way, be careful out there, beware the spam and the phishing efforts that never seem to let up and if an e-mail is offering something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Additional details surface about iPhone 4′s Retina display

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 8th, 2010, 07:35
Category: iPhone, News

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the iPhone 4, the Retina display, was introduced at yesterday’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday.

To answer the question of what a Retina display is, Chris Branderick of PC World offered the following tidbits:

“To put it simply, Apple’s figurative Retina display is an LCD that boasts a super high pixel density by squeezing a 960-by-640-pixel resolution into 3.5 inches—a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi).

The Retina display has four times the number of pixels as previous iPhones; its screen size is unchanged, resulting in double the pixel density. When compared to the now US$99 iPhone 3GS, which has a 163ppi screen with a 480-by-320 resolution, it’s easy to imagine just how this new screen will shine.

While talking about the new display, Steve Jobs went on to detail that after a certain point the human eye fails to distinguish individual pixels. According to the Apple CEO this “magic number,” when visible pixelation is no more, is around 300ppi. Therefore, with the iPhone 4’s screen coming in at more than 300 pixels per inch (326ppi), the display will supposedly always looks smooth and crisp, with no jaggies in sight.

Apple’s retina display also promises an improved contrast ratio. The company claims that the upcoming iPhone 4 will have a contrast ratio four times higher than that of previous models. Beyond the use of more compact pixels the screen, which is a backlit LED, will also adopt In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology to improve viewing angles and enhance color display.

Apple isn’t the first to put a super-high-resolution screen in a smartphone. Google’s Nexus One, for example, features an OLED screen with a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels, but its subpixel arrangement has some issues.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re attending the WWDC and can offer any hands-on feedback of the iPhone 4, please let us know in the comments.

Apple announces iPhone 4 at WWDC keynote

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 12:39
Category: iPhone, News

In his long-awaited Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the fourth-generation iPhone, termed the “iPhone 4″. Per Macworld, the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24$ thinner than the iPhone 3GS and includes new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

The iPhone 4 features a new screen technology called a “retina display” which operates at 326 pixels per inch, double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display measures the same 3.5″ inches diagonally, but at 960 x 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model with an 800:1 contrast ratio that’s also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

The new handset also sports the A4 chip, which boasts both a small footprint and good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that, coupled with the new chip, Apple says provides 40$ more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

The handset includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

The iPhone 4 also add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity and can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing which can be combined with new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information.

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. The company has also created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). Once the video has been recorded, users can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for US$5.

For Jobs’ “One More Thing” moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls via a feature called FaceTime between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only (at least through 2010). Users can also switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

The iPhone 4 will be available in both black and white, at US$199 for 16GB and US$299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24th, with pre-orders starting on June 15th. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a US$29 dock and a US$29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.