Rumor: AT&T may be capping iPhone upload speeds

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Date: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

Over on the MacRumors forums, they’re comparing their recent iPhone upload speeds and they’re not happy. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, users are experiencing uploads that appear to be capped at 100 kbps rather than the 1.6mbps that was a previous norm. Users have been comparing rates captured with tools like Speedtest.net’s Speed Test to put concrete numbers on perceived performance drops and it looks like that drop is huge, compared to the way things were just a week or two ago.

According to the thread, affected cities include: New York City, Central Jersey, Boston, Orlando, Seattle, South Jersey/Philly, Columbus, Cleveland, West Houston, Phoenix, Northern Colorado, St. Paul/Minnesota, Suffolk County/Long Island, Quad Cities, South Jersey, Denver, Detroit Metro, and Cincinnati.

TUAW ran a test in Denver, using SpeedTest.net’s application as well as FCC Mobile Broadband Test and iNetQCheck and experienced similar numbers as the ones reported in the MacRumors forum, with several stray data points in iNetQCheck runs — but even those remained below 200 kbps. This stands as a huge difference from the upload speeds reported just a week or two ago where a user test demonstrated upload speeds up to 3.5 mbps.

Wireless carrier AT&T has yet to offer an official comment due to the holiday and a recent guess has stated that the hypothetical upload caps may be a consequence of holiday weekend infrastructure work, and that speeds may return to normal tomorrow.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this on your end, please let us know.

Apple cites iPhone 4 reception problems as software bug, promises fix within a few weeks

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Date: Friday, July 2nd, 2010, 04:30
Category: iPhone, News

First, as you may have noticed, there are issues with the iPhone 4′s reception. Still, Apple says this might not be what you think according to a recent press release from the company:

“Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.

To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.

We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

The full press release can be found here and it seems a bit strange that Apple is once again blaming the formula.

Still, this is what it is and stay tuned for the software fix as well as additional details as they become available.

Additional Verizon/iPhone rumors flare, January release date mentioned

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Date: Wednesday, June 30th, 2010, 04:00
Category: iPhone, News

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A good rumor never dies. Per a recent Bloomberg report, two anonymous sources have stated that Verizon will be getting its own version of the iPhone come January. The addition of the iPhone would provide a boost to Verizon, as the device has shown itself to be both a hit with the critics and with the general public. The iPhone 4, which first launched last week, has already sold 1.7 million units in the span of three days.

Rumours of Verizon snagging its own version of the iPhone have been around for years now, as no one has been quite sure of when AT&T’s exclusivity agreement with Apple was slated to end. Despite the fact that Apple and AT&T’s relationship on the iPhone has been hugely profitable for both companies, Apple could expand its share of the smartphone market even further by offering its device to Verizon’s 93 million wireless subscribers. The fact that Verizon and AT&T will both be supporting the GSM-based LTE by the start of 2012 also makes offering the iPhone on multiple carriers more enticing, since Apple won’t need to build two different models that work on CDMA and GSM networks.

A Verizon version of the iPhone would still initially have to operate on a different wireless standard than the current version of the iPhone, which is designed to run on AT&T’s GSM-based HSPA network. Verizon’s 3G services employ the CDMA-based EV-DO Rev. A standard and would likely still be used as the company’s predominant wireless data network early next year despite the fact that it plans to launch its LTE network commercially later this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad hacker faces multiple drug charges, spotty past following FBI arrest

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Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 05:16
Category: iPad, News

Some hackers just have no luck.

Per CNET, one of the hackers in the group that snatched more than 100,000 iPad owner email addresses from AT&T’s servers was arrested Tuesday on felony drug charges after the FBI searched his Arkansas, US home.

Andrew “Escher” Auernheimer was arrested by Fayetteville, Ark., police and was booked into the Washington County Detention Center Tuesday afternoon, where he is being held on bonds totaling US$3,160.

Auernheimer, 24, faces four felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor drug charge. During the raid, police reportedly found drugs that included cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and Schedule 2 and 3 pharmaceuticals when they searched his home.

Auernheimer, who also goes by the hacker nickname “weev,” is one of 10 members of Goatse Security, a hacking group that used an automated script to collect 114,000 iPad email addresses from AT&T through a public feature of the carrier’s Web site.

Goatse revealed its e-mail harvesting after AT&T closed the hole, then defended its actions as “responsible disclosure” (the term given to security revelations made public only after a vendor has patched a bug). In a letter to customers apologizing for the email address disclosure, however, AT&T said the group “maliciously exploited” its Web site and promised it would “prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law.”

In recent interview, Auernheimer argued that Goatse’s attack was “ethical” and denied that they did anything illegal . “We love America and did this in the public interest,” Auernheimer said at the time.

Wednesday, the Fayetteville Police Department declined to comment on the charges against Auernheimer, instead referring all questions to the FBI.

Special Agent Bryan Travers of the FBI’s Newark, N.J., division confirmed that the agency had served a search warrant at Auernheimer’s home, but declined to answer any other questions, including whether agents removed computers from Auernheimer’s residence. “This remains an open investigation,” Travers said in an email.

The FBI launched an investigation into the Goatse attack last week, saying then that it was trying to determine if the group broke any laws.

Auernheimer is no stranger to drugs, according to Brian Krebs, a former reporter for the Washington Post and now the author of the Krebs on Security blog. In 2006, said Krebs, Auernheimer started a talk at a security conference by telling the audience that he was tripping on acid.

He has also regularly posted anti-Semitic statements on his LiveJournal blog, where he has claimed that the FCC is “Jewish-run” and that Jews “have long made a sham of the nobel [sic] prize.”

Auernheimer was arrested last March, according to a report by Fayetteville television station KHBS-TV , which noted that city police said he had given them a false name when they responded to a parking complaint.

A court hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in Washington County Circuit Court.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

E3 2010: OnLive launch titles, June 17th release date revealed (updated 2x)

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Date: Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 03:18
Category: News

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You’re going to like this.

Even though it sounded like a bit of a pipe dream when it was described last year, the OnLive gaming service will launch on June 17th and allow Macs to play bestselling console titles such as Arkham Asylum or Assassin’s Creed II. Per Macworld, OnLive uses a cloud computing technology to process games and allow any Intel-based Mac to function as a high-end gaming machine.

Where the bottom line is concerned, the service gets a cut of every game downloaded, but also has secured funding through partnerships. The most pivotal of those is AT&T, which has teamed up to become an official partner of OnLive’s Founding Member Program. The program (available to qualified users for a limited time), includes a one-year free membership to the OnLive Game Service. Registration has begun at www.onlive.com/att today at 3:00 pm Eastern and ends on July 15. Members of the program can also sign up for an additional year for US$5 per month.

OnLive is currently offering a free trial in which users can download a 1MB client and can try out all the demos for free. You can “rent” a game for a small fee to try it out, or purchase the game directly from the service. The games range from casual to hardcore, and prices range from US$5 to US$59 for full purchases.

Launch titles will include Ubisoft titles Assassin’s Creed II, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction, and Price of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. From Square-Enix, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Just Cause 2. From Electronic Arts, Dragon Age: Origins. Finally, from Take Two Interactive Entertainment, Borderlands. That’s quite a lineup of games that are not only hugely popular, but fairly recent.

While the potential to play high-end games on any Intel Mac is enticing, there are also lots of less-graphically intensive, casual games as well. Perlman cited Mad Balls, Defense Grid, Brain Challenge, and World of Goo as casual games that will appear on the service for download.

Additional games coming down the pipeline with unannounced release dates include: Sega’s Aliens vs. Predator and Alpha Protocol; Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Driver San Francisco, and Shaun White Skateboarding; THQ’s Darksiders, Homefront, and Red Faction: Armageddon; Square-Enix’s Deus Ex 3, Kain and Lynch 2: Dog Days; Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s F.E.A.R. 3 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4; and finally, 2K Sports MLB 2k10. The vast majority of these games have either come out in the last year or will be coming out in the next— and nearly all of them have never before appeared on the Mac.

Perlman is emphatic that his service will work on the Mac. “Every Intel Mac runs OnLive. We’ve tried them all,” he admits. That includes Mac minis, MacBooks, iMacs, and Mac Pros. Unfortunately, PowerPC Macs will not be supported by the service.


What You've Been Waiting For...


The only problem his team has encountered, Perlman concedes, is that the original release MacBook Air has a tendency to overheat but “you’ll encounter those same problems running a Flash video.”

The OnLive service will be launching for the Mac and Windows PC platforms on June 17 and after that you can “expect all games going forward to be Mac and PC.” Simultaneously launches on the service should be music to all Mac gamers’ ears.

For those who can’t wait that long, there’s a chance to sign up for the beta on the OnLive website. Oh, and for those who enjoy using game controllers, like the XBox 360 controller, you can with OnLive’s service. “They’re normally not compatible,” Perlman explains, “But we bridge the gap.”

Perlman claims that OnLive has had successful demos with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. One demo included the high-end sci-fi first person shooter Borderlands running on the iPad. “It works beautifully,” said Perlman.

Update:
Dropping by the OnLive booth, I was able to learn the following tidbits as well:

- The booth itself featured OnLive running well on current generation MacBook notebooks that had been closed but attached to power, Ethernet cables and USB controller peripherals. Titles like Red Faction: Guerilla ran without any latency.

- The company is doing a staggered launch and bringing more and more players online. Representatives said that the service had been in beta for months with thousands of users online and no significant delays were expected.

- OnLive is currently recommending a five megabit per second Internet connection. A utility available on the company’s web site allows this to be tested. In cases where the connection is too slow, users might want to look into a better connection through their Internet service provider.

- The company is currently running three data centers throughout the country via the Bay area (west coast), Dallas (midwest region) and Washington, D.C. Representatives said they’d like their data centers to be within 1,000 miles of their users.

- The client requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

- Players can purchase a Full Playpass to buy a game and then have unlimited use for the game, the game itself staying on OnLive’s cloud service and not downloading directly to the hard drive.

- Users can look in on other players’ games to observe gameplay, tactics, etc.

iPhone 4 preorders rescheduled to arrive on July 2nd

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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.

FBI to investigate AT&T/iPad security breach

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Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 09:33
Category: iPad, News

When embarrassingly hacked, call the FBI.

Per Reuters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that it has begun a probe into an AT&T security breach that exposed the email address of over 100,000 registered iPad owners.

“The FBI is aware of these possible computer intrusions and has opened an investigation to address the potential cyber threat,” FBI spokesman Jason Pack said.

The move comes one day after AT&T acknowledged that a security flaw on its website made it possible for hackers to query its database and uncover the email addresses of customers who had registered to use its mobile broadband service on their iPhone 3G.

“This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday,” the carrier said. “We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses may have been obtained.”

The attack on AT&T’s web servers resulted in at least 114,000 iPad 3G users’ emails being leaked to Goatse Security hackers when batches of iPad ICC-IDs were entered via specially formatted HTTP requests.

The group automated requests of the email address information for a wide swath of ICC-ID serial numbers using a script. Although the exploit revealed the addresses of several prominent government and corporate officials, no other information was revealed as part of the breach.

A representative for Goatse Security stated that it ‘hasn’t heard from law enforcement and that it didn’t do anything illegal, so doesn’t see why it would.’

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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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

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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.

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.