Apple posts two security-related job openings, looks to be closing holes where present

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Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News, security

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If you keep losing an incredibly valuable intellectual property, it might be time to give your security a once-over.

Per PCmag.com, Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of “New Product Security.” While it might be a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple’s troubles of late for losing test gadgets:

“The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property,” said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recently, an iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

San Francisco Police confirmed last Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn’t found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple’s problems went beyond iPhones. Apple is also apparently working to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. The customer said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store’s internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for effectively keeping its secrets and sticking close to its message.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 case pictures leaked, indicate larger design

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Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 08:35
Category: Accessory, iPhone, Pictures

If you ever wondered about the size and shape of Apple’s upcoming mobile devices, look to what the case makers are developing.

Per Electronista, Italian web site Macitynet.it and MIC Gadget have discovered new iPhone cases, all of them showing a design somewhat like the iPod touch but with the requisite camera, microphone, and speaker connectors. The Macitynet.it sighting compared it against both the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch and found it larger than both, strongly supporting beliefs that it has a larger screen.

A plethora of cases from multiple Chinese manufacturers shown at MIC Gadget bear this out annd suggest that they all got access to leaked blueprints rather than some of the more speculative designs seen a few months ago.

The more recent cases, if shaped around the real design, point to Apple finally taking on a wave of increasingly larger Android phones. It’s now common for even mid-tier phones like the Droid Incredible 2 to have four-inch screens, which are rumored for Apple’s model, and phones like the Galaxy S II regularly use 4.3-inch or even 4.5-inch screens. Apple might not increase the resolution but would still have one of the sharpest screens in the size class.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple loses iPhone 5 prototype, manages to locate it within days

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Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, this is odd.

Remember when an Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar last year and the company was, well, mildly upset regarding the aftermath?

It’s happened again.

In a bizarre repeat of a high-profile incident last year, an Apple employee once again appears to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar.

Per CNET, the errant iPhone, which went missing in San Francisco’s Mission district in late July, sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid US$5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for US$200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.

Apple declined to comment after being contacted this morning. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said the company did not file a police report based on the loss at the bar. Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco’s Cava 22, which describes itself as a “tequila lounge” that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source. When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

In an interview this afternoon, Jose Valle told CNET that neither the police nor Apple security ever contacted him. Valle, who owns the bar with his family, said however does he remember a man calling multiple times about a lost iPhone about a month ago. He told the man he would call him back if he ever found the phone.
“I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong,” Valle said.

After last year’s embarrassing loss, Apple reportedly has taken extraordinary steps to protect its prototype devices from leaks. Next-generation iPhones are sent to carriers for testing “inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs,” according to the Guardian.

Apple developers have been given new iPhones with an upgraded processor — the one that is used in the iPad 2 and is expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone. But the device “is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it’s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone’s exterior,” according to a report at 9to5Mac.com. Even last year’s prototype was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Alleged white fifth-generation iPod touch component photos surface

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Date: Monday, August 29th, 2011, 03:39
Category: iPod Touch, photos

It’s the leaked parts shots that make things interesting.

Per Technobuffalo, a parts supplier has acquired white-colored parts purportedly for a fifth-generation iPod touch, providing further evidence that Apple is moving forward with a white version of the media player.

iFixDirect claims to have obtained a white front cover for a next-generation iPod touch. Other than the color difference, the alleged part does not show any major changes to the device.

In July, Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPod touch would sport few, if any, distinguishable changes from the fourth-generation black models.

Kuo suggested that the iPod touch would not receive a “spec update” this year because Apple is prioritizing supplies of the A5 processor and other components for the iPhone and iPad. Supply and manufacturing constraints have left the Cupertino, Calif., company struggling to keep up with demand for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

Also complicating the matter is the fact that the company has pushed the release of the next-generation iPhone past the usual summer timeframe. As such, the arrival of the iPhone 5 this fall will likely overshadow any iPod touch release. Additionally, Apple is reportedly stockpiling supplies for its next handset in anticipation of pent up demand.

Apple last updated the iPod touch in September 2010, adding a Retina Display, front- and rear-facing cameras and the A4 processor.

Evidence in Apple’s own iOS betas also appears to suggest that an iPod touch update is not viewed internally as completely new generation. Recent beta releases of the software contain references to an “iPod 4,2,” implying that the new device will be based on the fourth-generation iPod touch architecture.

A white iPod touch would fall in-line with Apple’s recent strategy of adding a white version of its iOS devices to generate renewed interest. Last year, Apple announced a white version of the iPhone 4, but was forced to delay the product after encountering manufacturing issues. 10 months after the black iPhone 4 was released, Apple finally began selling the white model.

Apple also introduced a white version of the iPad when it launched the second generation of its tablet in March. The company appeared to have resolved any manufacturing or paint issues with, as, unlike the iPhone 4, the white model shipped alongside the black iPad 2 from day one.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple gives internship to 19-year-old jailbreak prodigy

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Date: Friday, August 26th, 2011, 04:46
Category: iPhone, News, security

If you’re a good enough hacker and sort of threaten Apple’s warranties to a certain degree, the company might just give you an internship.

According to his Twitter feed, 19-year old Nicholas Allegra, announced that he will start an internship with Apple “the week after next.” Allegra gained notoriety last year when, as a member of the iPhone Dev Team, he released a web-based JailbreakMe exploit for the iPhone 4.



Jailbreaking refers to the process of hacking iOS to allowed users to install custom software and tweaks without Apple’s permission. Performing a jailbreak can, however, void Apple’s warranty for the device.

Allegra made waves again last month when he released an updated version of JailbreakMe for iOS 4.3.3.

According to a profile on him by Forbes earlier this month, Allegra has been on leave from Brown University since last winter while looking for an internship.

The hacker expressed that he’s not sure why he has such a knack for circumventing Apple’s security measures. “It feels like editing an English paper,” Allegra said. “You just go through and look for errors. I don’t know why I seem to be so effective at it.”

Charlie Miller, a former National Security Agency analyst and one of the first people to hack the original iPhone in 2007, was impressed by Allegra’s hack. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to do what he’s done for years,” he said. “Now it’s been done by some kid we had never even heard of. He’s totally blown me away.”

Security researcher Dino Dai Zovi has compared Allegra’s hacking skills to those of government-sponsored “advanced-persistent threat” hackers. “He’s probably five years ahead of them,” he remarked.

Allegra taught himself to program when he was just 9 years old. “By the time I took a computer science class in high school, I already knew everything,” he said. As a self-professed Apple “fanboy,” he confessed that he hacks the iPhone because he likes the challenge.

“I didn’t come out of the same background as the rest of the security community,” he added. “So to them I seem to have come out of nowhere.”

Last year, the U.S. government approved an exemption that made it legal for iPhone owners to jailbreak and carrier unlock their devices.

Apple’s relationship with the jailbreak community has been likened to a game of cat and mouse. The iPhone Dev Team published a post, entitled “The coolest cat,” to their blog on Wednesday with an image of the iconic Tom and Jerry cat and mouse cartoon characters and the note “We loved the chase! Good luck, Steve.” The well-wishes were addressed to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who announced on Wednesday his resignation as CEO of the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

RadioShack offering discounted iPhone 3GS, 4 handsets until August 20th

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Date: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, 03:25
Category: iPhone, News, retail

This may not be the fire sale you’re hoping for, but it’s something.

Per CNET, from now through August 20, RadioShack is cutting US$30 off the price of Apple’s iPhone 4, as well as the iPhone 3GS. Deeper discounts can be had if buyers bring in their iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS and use the company’s Trade and Save program, which it’s had going since before the iPhone 4 went on sale.

RadioShack and Target unofficially lowered pricing on phones at the end of last month, with those prices going into effect on July 31. Today’s news puts an endmark on the deal, as well as adding the capability to stack those savings with the company’s trade-in service.

Apple is expected to bring out a next-generation iPhone between now and October, with recent rumors citing the company’s launch window for October, though a slew of reports from earlier this year said it would be sometime next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, hey, savings are never a bad thing.

Alleged iPhone 5 proximity sensor picture leaked, subtle differences noted

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 06:59
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you’re going to get excited about something today, it might as well be a purported proximity sensor.

The SW-Box.com web site claims to have obtained a genuine iPhone 5 proximity light sensor flex cable in advance of the device’s launch, which is expected this fall. The site boasts that its offices are “just a stone’s throw” from “the Apple factory,” presumably a reference to contract manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in Shenzhen, China.

“We spend a lot of resources on research and intel,” the company wrote on the part’s product page, asserting that the component is indeed the “real deal.” The part’s pricing starts at US$3.77 and goes as low as US$2.52 for volume orders of 50 or more.

According to the site, the flex cable is “evidence of solid engineering” and is “micro-architectured to stand the tests of time and heat.” The part also contains “dynamic light sensing diodes and high flow terminals” that balance functionality and cost.

The part contains minor differences in the orientation of the components as compared with a corresponding iPhone 4 part, possibly providing evidence of at least a partial redesign in the next-generation iPhone. One difference appears to be the fact that, as with the CDMA iPhone 4, the noise canceling microphone has been moved off of the proximity sensor part.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 03:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.5, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates fix a security vulnerability with certificate validation and arrive in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.5 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.10.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Apple posts $7.31 billion profit for third quarter

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 13:44
Category: Finance, News

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A combination of record iPhone and iPad sales combined with continued growth of its Mac business pushed Apple to reported sales of US$28.57 billion and net profit of US$7.31 billion for the three-month period ended June 25, 2011.

Per Macworld, the sales and profit figures—both quarterly records—increased last year’s third-quarter performance by 82 percent and 125 percent, respectively. Apple reported earnings of US$7.79 per share, which beat analyst estimates of $5.85. Analysts had also been looking for Apple to reach US$24.92 billion in sales for the quarter—a figure the company topped by nearly US$4 billion.

“We are extremely pleased with the momentum of our business,” chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts during a conference call to discuss the earnings report on Tuesday. Oppenheimer noted that during its 2011 fiscal year, Apple has recorded US$35 billion in year-over-year revenue growth and US$9.5 billion in year-over-year earnings growth—increases of 78 percent and 99 percent, respectively.

Apple says it sold 20.34 million iPhones during the just-completed quarter, a 142 percent increase from the phones it sold during the same period last year. That’s also the most phones Apple has ever sold during a quarter, topping the 18.65 million mark set just three months ago.

The iPhone racked up strong sales despite Apple skipping its customary summer introduction of a new model, after releasing the iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010 and the iPhone 3GS the summer before that. The last new iPhone released by Apple was a CDMA version of the smartphone compatible with Verizon’s wireless network; that model came out in February. The long-awaited white version of the iPhone also shipped in April.

Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the third quarter, the first full quarter of sales for the iPad 2, which arrived in March. Apple says its iPad sales topped last year’s figures by 183 percent. It also set a new record for quarterly iPad sales, besting the previous mark of 7.3 million during the 2010 holiday shopping season.

Mac sales rose 14 percent from last year, with Apple selling 3.95 million computers. That’s a record for the third quarter, Oppenheimer said. Growth of Mac sales also outpaced market-research firm IDC’s forecasted PC market growth by more than four times, Apple pointed out.

The quarter saw Apple introduce new iMacs with quad-core processors, improved graphics, and Thunderbolt connectivity. All told, Apple sold 1.15 million desktops, accounting for about 30 percent of the Macs sold during the quater. The company sold 2.79 million portable Macs during the quarter, with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air driving those sales, according to Oppenheimer.

iPod sales continued to decline from the heights of previous years. Apple says it sold 7.54 million iPods, a 20 percent drop from last year, though Oppenheimer said that was above the company’s expectations. The iPod touch accounts for about half of all iPods sold, according to Apple’s figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.4 update, addresses PDF security issues

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Date: Friday, July 15th, 2011, 10:54
Category: iOS, News, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.4, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates, which somewhat function as a response to the German government’s regarding PDF-related security vulnerabilities in MobileSafari fix the same three vulnerabilities, the patch arriving in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.4 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.9.

Per Macworld, the issues addressed in the updates include the aforementioned PDF problem within Apple’s CoreGraphics framework, which exploits FreeType’s TrueType and Type 1 fonts to execute malicious code, and a conversion problem within the IOMobileFrameBuffer framework, which could allow code to inadvertently gain system privileges by posing as the user.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.