Apple granted patent for unauthorized iPhone usage, detection and reporting technology

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:24
Category: News, Patents

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This could be useful.

Among a series of patents granted to Apple on Tuesday, an interesting invention regarding iPhone security was discovered, with the property describing various methods to protect sensitive data if an unauthorized user gets hold of the device.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent No. 8,289,130 for “Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device” offers a unique security solution to the ever-present problem of having one’s iPhone lost or stolen.

The patent’s begins by stating that “This is generally directed to identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device,” but goes far beyond any identification technology currently available in Apple’s handset. For example, one embodiment of the invention calls for heartbeat monitoring, which can be used to determine whether the person holding an iPhone is its owner.

From the patent abstract:
In some embodiments, an unauthorized user of the electronic device can be detected by identifying particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior. In some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identity of the owner of the electronic device. When an unauthorized user is detected, various safety measures can be taken.

The patent essentially covers three main operations: the detection of an unauthorized user; the gathering of information of an unauthorized user; and the transmission of an alert notification to the electronic device’s owner containing said information.

As mentioned above, a person’s heartbeat can be used to determined whether he or she is the owner of a device, though more conventional methods are also described, such as taking a photograph or matching voice recordings. Perhaps most effective are the patent’s other embodiments in which an unauthorized user is identified through a number of actions. For example, “entering an incorrect password a predetermined number of times in a row, hacking of the electronic device, jailbreaking of the electronic device, unlocking of the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, or moving a predetermined distance away from a synced device” can all be used as means of detection.

When a non-owner is identified, the device can enter an information gathering mode in which location, photographs, voice recordings, screenshots, keylogs, and internet usage are stored. Another option is to restrict the phone’s functions and erase sensitive information when an unauthorized user takes control of the device.

Finally, an alert is sent to a “responsible party,” such as the device owner or police, containing a predetermined message like “Warning, your electronic device may have been stolen.” In addition, the alert, sent via text, email, instant message, or over the internet, can contain the information the device gathered when in the hands of the unauthorized user.

In some embodiments, near field communications, or NFC, can be employed to pair the handset with a key fob or similar device. If the phone moves far enough away from the key fob, it will issue a warning which will turn into a formal alert if the device moves a substantial distance.

As with most Apple patents, it is unclear if the technology will be deployed in an upcoming product, however recent additions to iOS like Find My iPhone illustrate the company’s focus on device security.

Cool stuff and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.

Microsoft flatly denies Office for iOS rumor

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Date: Thursday, October 11th, 2012, 08:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Well, this was a bit far-fetched to begin with.

Following up on yesterday’s story regarding Microsoft Office arriving for iOS and Mac OS X in 2013, the rumor was crushed via a single tweet from Microsoft corporate communications lead, who stated that the comments made by the Czech team are “inaccurate.”

Still, it was a bit odd that a manager for the company’s Czech marketplace had this sort of information to leak or announce to the public at large.

The wait continues and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft Office to arrive for iOS, Android in March of 2013

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Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012, 08:33
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

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The plus side: This is cool and interesting and, if true, could be outstanding.

The negative side: Someone’s probably getting fired over this leak.

Per Czech web site IHNED (translated by The Verge), Petr Bobek, a Microsoft product manager in the Czech Republish, reportedly indicated that native versions of Office for iOS and Android will arrive next year [updated]

Bobek stated that his company’s market leading productivity suite will make its way to Apple’s devices, as well as those running Google Android, sometime after March of 2013. The details came from a press release issued by Microsoft’s Czech Republic Team.

“In addition to Windows, Office will also be available on other operating systems: Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian,” the company’s statement said.

The press release separately noted that a new version of Office Web Apps will also be available. In a statement, Microsoft’s U.S. arm noted that the company previously indicated Office Mobile will be available on iOS and Android, in addition to Windows Phone.

Rumors of a version of Microsoft Office for iPad have swirled for the past year, and tablet publication The Daily even showed a screenshot of the rumored application. One report from late May pegged a specific release date for Office for iPad: Nov. 10, 2012.

However, Wednesday’s statements from Microsoft’s Czech team would suggest that date will not be met, with a launch instead coming in early 2013.

It was also reported earlier this year that Microsoft was working on a new native iOS application for Outlook Web App, called “OWA Mobile Client for iOS,” that will offer compatibility with Exchange 2012 mailboxes. It, along with a new version of the Lync application for iOS, will reportedly feature Microsoft’s Metro interface, just like Office for iPad is expected to do.

Rumors have said that Office for iPad will allow users to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Dedicated Outlook functionality is not expected to be included in Office for iPad.

While earlier reports focused on Office support for the iPad, the mention of iOS in the overseas Microsoft press release suggests that the productivity suite could also be coming to Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s own iWork suite, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, offers universal support across portable iOS devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google launches Street View for Google Maps web app, begins location-based rollouts

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

If you loved the Street View feature in Google Maps, it’s here for web-based and assorted iOS users.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Thursday began to integrate Street View data into the web app version of Google Maps, bringing the feature back to iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users, however the rollout appears limited to certain locations.

The service brings back interactive 360-degree street-level photographs to iOS after Apple replaced the native Google Maps-powered Maps app with its own solution in iOS 6.

As of this writing, it seems Google hasn’t completely integrated the Street View dataset into its iOS-compatible web app, as some locations supported by the full-fledged version built for desktop browsers aren’t yet offered in the mobile variant.

To use the feature, an iOS 6 user can either navigate to maps.google.com and search from there, or use Safari’s search built-in search function to locate a specific address or building.

In the following example, the “Flatiron Building” was entered into Safari’s search bar, which yielded the address and simple line map for the Origins store located at the base of the iconic Manhattan building.

Selecting the map image brings up a satellite view of the area and the usual location marker, with barebones map controls located at the top and bottom of the window. New to this view, however, is the small stick figure at the bottom right of the screen which, when pressed, opens a new window with a stripped-down Street View interface.

While panning and scrolling operations are smooth, there is no option to zoom in on an object and the image has not been corrected for pincushion distortion. As expected, the experience is not as rich as using a desktop browser, however the image quality is high and the controls are intuitive.

At the moment, the service is not completely stable, as returning to the search window to query additional locations sometimes causes the map to go blank. A simple closing and reopening of the window is enough to reset the webpage.

The internet search giant looks to be implementing a staggered release, starting with major metropolitan cities like New York, and it is not yet known when the service will be fully functional.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

QuarkXPress 9.3.1.2 update released

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Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, software developer Quark released version 9.3.1.2 of its QuarkXPress design application. The 364 megabyte update, which can be downloaded here, adds the following change:

- This free update for App Studio users includes new versions of App Studio Factory and Issue Previewer for iOS Simulator. This release is not compatible with QPS 9.2.

QuarkXPress 9.3.1.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 later to install and retails for US$799.00 for the full version.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.4.1 update

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 06:45
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock the bug fixes.

Late Monday, Apple released its iPhoto 9.4.1 update. The update, a 794 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improves the reliability of syncing to iOS devices via iTunes.

- Fixes an issue that could cause iPhoto to quit unexpectedly when using the Export command.

- Addresses an issue that could cause iPhoto to quit unexpectedly when upgrading multiple books, cards, and calendars.

- Resolves an issue with downloading and viewing photos synced from Facebook albums.

- Adds support for Shared Photo Streams on OS X Mountain Lion.

- Comments can now be added to photos after publishing them to Facebook.

- New card and calendar themes have been added.

- A new File menu command can be used to open the current photo library in Aperture (if installed).

- Includes performance and stability improvements.

iPhoto 9.4.1 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.

App Store highlights third-party mapping applications in latest Apple response to iOS 6 Maps complaints

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 10:13
Category: News, Software

This couldn’t have been easy to fess up to and post.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has posted a new featured link on the iOS App Store that invites users to “Find maps for your iPhone,” and lists a number of paid and free alternatives to Apple’s own Maps application in iOS 6.

The new link appeared on the App Store on Friday, after Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook himself highlighted competing options in an apology to customers. Since the launch of iOS 6 with Apple’s all-new mapping solution, users have complained that the software is substandard.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app,” Cook wrote.

In addition to the public apology, the new “Find maps for your iPhone” is the first featured link on the iOS App Store curated by Apple. It offers a list of 13 alternative mapping applications available for download. They are:
- MotionX GPS Drive

- Waze social GPS traffic & gas

- MapQuest

- GPS by Telenav

- Garmin USA

- Gokivo GPS Navigator

- Navigon USA

- CoPilot Live Premium USA — offline GPS navigation

- CoPilot GPS — Plan & Explore with on-board maps & directions

- Bing

- Magellan RoadMate North America

- AT&T Navigator: GPS navigation subscription fee appears on AT&T bill

Most notably absent from the list is Google Maps, because a dedicated application from the search company is not yet available on the App Store. Google is said to be working on a standalone application, but in the meantime users can still visit the Google Maps website, as Cook suggested, to access the service. The popular Street View functionality is not available, but is expected to launch within the next two weeks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google begins adding CardDAV support for iOS calendar users

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Google has added support for the open CardDAV contact syncing protocol used by Apple in OS X and iOS, enabling Google Contacts users to directly sync just like Yahoo and iCloud.

Google’s Gmail product manager Jeff Ellingson noted the new support for CardDAV on the company’s blog today.

The new support requires iOS 5 or higher, and currently requires users to manually set up an “other” CardDAV account, as Apple’s automated setup for Google accounts on both OS X and iOS only configure Gmail & Notes (via IMAP), Calendar & Reminders (via CalDAV), and Messages (via XMPP).

In the future, Apple will likely add support for simply checking a box for Contacts sync to simplify CardDAV account configuration, just as it does for Yahoo and Facebook accounts that already support CardDAV.

Apple pioneered support for the CalDAV and CardDAV open specifications in its efforts to build open Calendar and Contact sharing services in OS X Server as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server, which uses proprietary protocols to sync such data between clients and servers.

The company first added CalDAV and CardDAV support to its mobile devices in iOS 4 two years ago.

Apple has aggressively pushed both open standards for calendar and contact sync, enabling users to seamlessly use Macs and iOS devices with not just its own OS X Server and iCloud offerings, but also third party services from AOL, Google, Yahoo and any other systems that support them.

CalDAV and CardDAV are based upon the WebDAV specification for building web servers capable of both reading and writing information, so implementing the protocols is relatively simple for third parties.

If you’ve tried the new Google CalDAV and CardDAV support features in iOS, please let us know how your experience went in the comments.

Apple releases second public apology regarding iOS 6 Maps app issues

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Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:45
Category: iOS, News, Software

Once again…this is awkward.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Friday published an open letter to customers on behalf of CEO Tim Cook, who formally apologized for Apple’s new Maps in iOS 6 and “the frustration this has caused our customers.”

Cook vowed that his company is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.” In the meantime, he said, users can download third-party mapping tools from the App Store such as Bing, MapQuest or Waze, or use Web-based options like Google Maps or Nokia’s product.

The comments from Cook also corroborate a recent report that indicated Apple’s switch to its own mapping solution in iOS 6 was driven primarily by the company’s interest in providing turn-by-turn directions. Under its previous agreement with Google Maps, voice-guided navigation was not available in the iOS Maps application.

“We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS,” Cook wrote. “As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

Upon its debut with iOS 6, Apple’s new Maps application was met with a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Apple’s new mapping solution is generally seen as inferior to the product it replaced, which was powered by Google Maps.

Friday’s letter by Cook is the second time Apple has commented publicly on the Maps controversy. The company first issued a statement soon after the release of iOS 6 to say it was “working hard” to fix the Maps application, and that the company appreciates customer feedback.

Apple’s mapping team was said to be “under lockdown,” attempting to quickly fix some of the larger issues with iOS 6 Maps. And the company was also reported to have been luring ex-Google Maps engineers to work on its new application. Apple also began advertising for new positions available for mapping developers on its website.

One of the most-cited features missed by users with iOS 6 Maps is Google’s Street View functionality. That feature is reportedly coming to the Web-based version of Google Maps within two weeks.

Cook’s full letter is included below:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Assorted iPhone 4S, third-gen iPad users reporting iOS 6 Wi-Fi issues

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Date: Thursday, September 27th, 2012, 07:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Well, this is why they invented bug fixes and software updates…

Per AppleInsider, a whopping 91-page thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage illustrates what appears to be a significant problem with upgrading iPhone 4S and third-generation iPads to the company’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 6.

Forum members report that after upgrading to iOS 6, both the legacy iPhone 4S and new iPad are experiencing disabled Wi-Fi connectivity that leaves the option to connect “grayed out.” The issue appears to be affecting Bluetooth capabilities as well, with some users claiming their units are unable to pair or even recognize other devices, and show the spinning “search wheel” indefinitely.

Another set of users have the ability to turn Wi-Fi on in Settings, but are unable to connect to their local network.

Both the nature and extent of the purported iOS 6 complications are unknown, including whether the two issues are related, though many affected users who have contacted Apple say the company is aware of the problems.

A number of fixes have been suggested, including a hard reset and reinstallation of iOS 6, but the most effective seems to be resetting Network Settings and changing the HTTP Proxy to “Auto.”

For those who are seeing a completely grayed out Wi-Fi toggle switch in Settings, a few users have had luck with downgrading to iOS 5.1, suggesting the issue is exclusive to iOS 6. Other members have successfully exchanged their affected iPhones for new hardware after demonstrating the grayed out Wi-Fi option to staff at the Apple Store Genius Bar, though it is unclear if handset replacement is the usual course of action.

When iOS 6 was released on Sept. 19, a number of early adopters suffered from Wi-Fi issues, however Apple was able to trace the problem back to a downed verification page which was quickly repaired.

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