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Review: Find My iPhone

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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.

Apple quietly installs specific anti-malware code into Mac OS X 10.6.4 update

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Date: Monday, June 21st, 2010, 04:18
Category: News, Software

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There’s something to be said for an operating system succeeding and gaining market share: people will make more of an effort to write viruses and malware for it.

Per CNET, Apple’s recent Mac OS X 10.6.4 update includes software to protect Macs from a Trojan horse that has been distributed by attackers disguised as iPhoto, but which opens a back door on the machine, security firm Sophos said on Friday.

When Apple released OS X 10.6.4 on Tuesday, the company said it addressed certain compatibility issues with VPN connections and other things, but failed to mention anything about adding an anti-malware update.
Buried in the code is an update to the XProtect.plist file, which contains signatures of malware written to target the Mac. The signatures now detect malware dubbed “HellRTS,” Graham Clulely of Sophos wrote in a blog post.

HellRTS, which Sophos detects as “OSX/Pinheard-B,” is a Trojan that has been around several months. It lets attackers use infected computers to send spam, take screenshots, access files, and pretty much take control of the computer, Sophos said.

“Unfortunately, many Mac users seem oblivious to security threats which can run on their computers. And that isn’t helped when Apple issues an anti-malware security update like this by stealth, rather than informing the public what it has done,” Clulely writes. “You have to wonder whether their keeping quiet about an anti-malware security update like this was for marketing reasons. “Shh! Don’t tell folks that we have to protect against malware on Mac OS X!”

Representatives from Apple have yet to return any requests for comment on the issue.

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.

Apple releases iTunes 9.2 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 13:26
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 9.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with iPhone 4 to enjoy your favorite music, movies, TV shows, books and more on-the-go.
- Sync and read books with iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 and iBooks 1.1.
- Organize and sync PDF documents as books. Read PDFs with iBooks 1.1 on iPad and any iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Organize your apps on your iOS 4 home screens into folders using iTunes.
- Faster back-ups while syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Album artwork improvements make artwork appear more quickly when exploring your library.

iTunes 9.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-04 for Mac OS X 10.5.x users

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:05
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released Security Update 2010-04 for Mac OS X 10.5.x (“Snow Leopard”). The update, a 218.6 megabyte download, adds a slew of security fixes and changes, as summarized here.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

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 releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:42
Category: News, Software

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After months of anticipation, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.6.4 update for its Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system on Tuesday.

The update, which ranges in size from a few to several hundred megabytes, includes the following fixes and changes:

General fixes and improvements:
- Improves compatibility with some Braille displays
- Resolves an issue that causes the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive
- Resolves an issue that may prevent some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
addresses issues copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB file servers
- Improves reliability of VPN connections
- Resolves a playback issue in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
- Resolves an issue editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture in full screen view
- Resolves an issue with Parental Controls Time Limits for Open Directory or Active Directory users
- Resolves a display sleep issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers
- Resolves an issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers in which the right speaker may sound louder than the left speaker
- Includes Safari 5.0; for more information about Safari 5.0, see this webpage

Fixes and improvements for Aperture 3:
- Adds tethered shooting support for additional digital camera models
- Addresses IPTC metadata compatibility issues

Fixes and improvements for external devices:
- RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras
- Resolves an issue with using third-party USB web cameras
- Resolves an issue with noise when using some third-party FireWire audio devices
- Resolves pairing issues with Apple remotes

Mac OS X 10.6.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run and can be downloaded via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Review: Apple Store app

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:37
Category: Review, Software

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By Steve Abrahamson

I just downloaded the new Apple Store app from Apple, and I must say, it’s quite nice.

Most of the comments seem to focus around crashing problems by people trying to pre-order their new iPhone 4. It didn’t crash for me at all, and I’m guessing that’s because I wasn’t interacting with AT&T’s servers, which are totally bogged down today (again). Overall, I think this a great app.

First off, it’s fantastic for Apple fans like me to have in my pocket, so that when a friend or colleague asks something about an Apple product, I can get specs right away, in seconds, in the palm of my hand. It’s great for that.

But I did find three problems, one frightening:

1.) It never asked for my account info, it just took it from the phone’s mobile me settings. That’s OK (it’s a first-party app, after all), but the app should say it did. So when I was idly poking around the app, I almost accidentally purchased several thousand dollars of stuff on my iTunes account! The app needs to make it more obvious at the start that it’s grabbing your credentials, and explicitly ask for permission to use them for purchases. I expect my iTunes account to never see purchases of over 10-20 bucks – I buy computers with a different credit card.

2.) Under Stores, it doesn’t offer the option to tell the store to set something aside for streamlined shopping. For instance, if you know you want to go in and buy a MacBook Pro and an LED display, and you know exactly what you want, there’s no way to specify that and have it waiting for you at the store to just pick up. If they want to get customers in the door and back out again in the most efficient way possible (and they do – they’ve done a lot to streamline and remove friction from shopping at the stores), they should offer this through the app. It’d be ground-breaking for computer retail, and be a great way to service the people who don’t need to spend time, just money.

You can set up an appointment with a Personal Shopper, who’s going to expect to answer questions and demo stuff… but the only way to say you want this stuff waiting for you is to put it in the “comments” section, and they might or might not even have a chance to read that – you have no way of telling.

3.) When I did look for Personal Shopper appointments, it told me there were none available at the store I wanted to go to. It did offer to look for nearby stores, which is nice, but I’d rather it was simply able to look further ahead. Do their servers only take appointments a few days out? Maybe they need to increase that.

Overall, this is a fantastic v1.0 app, and like most of Apple’s apps, it’s free. There’s plenty of time for refinements, but today, out of the gate, it’s an excellent app that every iPhone customer should have in their hip pocket.

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.