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Patent describes how future iPhones could recognize, adjust for individual users

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPhone, Patents

Since patents make life interesting, a recently published patent describes a technology that could rely on a user’s picture or the sound of their voice which future portable devices from Apple could recognize and use as login information.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week revealed a patent application from Apple entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device.” The security-centric invention describes methods to identify users through a picture, the sound of their voice, or even their unique heartbeat.

“The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match,” the application reads. “If they do not match, the current user can be detected as an unauthorized user.”

If an unauthorized user were to attempt to access an iPhone or another device, the owner of the handset could be notified in a variety of manners, including a phone call, text message or e-mail. The technology could also send the owner or the police a picture of the unauthorized user, or other information specific to the potential thief, such as the current location.

The handset could also recognize an unauthorized user if they do certain uncharacteristic activities with the phone. Specifically named are hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removing a SIM card.

But beyond security, such technology could also be used to identify individual users and allow users who share a product, like an iPad, to customize it to their liking. Apple has shown interest in such capabilities for some time.

Prior to the iPad’s release, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family. Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up.

One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Apple’s security-centric patent application was first filed on Feb. 19, 2009. It is credited to Taido Nakajima, Pareet Rahul and Gloria Lin.

The invention is also not the first time Apple has explored recognizing users by their heartbeat. One patent application revealed in May dealt specifically with that technology, describing a heart rate monitor seamlessly built in to the exterior of an iPhone. Reading a user’s unique biometric data, the iPhone could then recognize them.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon to offer live FiOS TV streaming app over Wi-Fi for iPad

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 05:27
Category: iPad, News

An upcoming iPad app from Verizon will enable subscribers of Verizon’s FiOS service to stream live TV over their home Wi-Fi networks.

Per NewTeeVee, Verizon released an announcement regarding several new video applications for its TV and video services. The upcoming iPad app, which is due out early next year, will utilize what Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir called “cloud TV.” Usage will initially be limited to within FiOS subscribers’ own homes.

According to Verizon, the technical aspects for the app already in place, and the last hurdle is the company’s ongoing talks with content partners to work out the legality of streaming to the device. Verizon claimed it should already have streaming rights, since the iPad is “just another screen in the home.”

Kheradpir showed the nearly finished app streaming a live CNN video. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, has been working together with Verizon to develop the app. While several other content providers are also working on their own iPad apps, Verizon’s efforts stand out because it hopes to offer streaming content rather than offer remote control features.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO announces iPad version of streaming video service

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:34
Category: iPad, News, Software

Premium cable network HBO has announced that the company will offer a new iPad application that will allow subscribers to stream the network’s content on the go.

Per Bloomberg, the HBO Go service will be extended to paying subscribers at no additional cost, co-president of HBO Eric Kellser told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The streaming service will be available on Apple’s iPad, as well as other mobile devices and through all major cable systems.

HBO’s decision to push its own streaming service comes as the cable network has refused a deal with video rental service Netflix, which has pushed hard to broker a deal. Kessler said he finds “value in exclusivity,” and believes consumers “are willing to pay a premium for high quality, exclusive content.”

HBO, owned by Time Warner, is home to such popular, original shows as “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” and “Sex and the City.”

The HBO Go service is currently a Web-based streaming offering. Kessler did not elaborate as to whether its extension to the iPad would be in the form of an HTML5-based website, or a unique application written specifically for the iPad.

A final launch date for the iPad version of the HBO Go service has yet to be announced.

Rumor: Apple planning CDMA iPhone, smaller iPad tablets, AMD-powered Apple TV devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 06:02
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, overseas component suppliers have started rumors of a number of new products coming from Apple in the next year, including a new Apple TV running iOS and powered by an AMD Fusion processor, a 7″ iPad, a CDMA iPhone, and a new 9.7″ iPad with a Cortex-A9 processor and 512MB of RAM in 2011.

DigiTimes went somewhat overboard on Monday, reporting a lengthy list of potential future hardware from Apple. The site made mention of a Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone expected to start production in December, piggybacking on rumors that resurfaced over the weekend, claiming the iPhone 4 will debut on the Verizon network in the U.S. in January 2011.

“Pegatron is expected to start mass production in December and will supply to both US-based Verizon Wireless and China-based China Telecom,” the report said. “The CDMA iPhone’s back plate will be forged from metal materials and will feature an integrated antenna.”

Sources also indicated to the publication that Apple will upgrade its 9.7″ iPad to an ARM Cortex-A9-based processor, and also add 512MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011. The current model has 256MB or RAM and a custom A4 processor based on the Cortex-A8 design.

The report also rekindled rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7″ screen. The report claimed that the hardware will also sport a Cortex-A9-based processor, and like the 9.7-inch model, will have an LCD panel with in-plane switching technology and a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.

Finally, the report also claimed that the Cupertino, Calif., company is working on a new Apple TV powered by AMD’s Fusion package, dubbed an “accelerated processing unit,” or APU. AMD’s yet-to-be-released hybrid processor combines the CPU and GPU functions into one package. The ARM-based chips found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad already accomplish similar functions with low power consumption.

AMD touts that its forthcoming Fusion product will offer strong HD, 3D and data-intensive performance on the single-die processor. “APUs combine high-performance serial and parallel processing cores with other special-purpose hardware accelerators, enabling breakthroughs in visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor,” the company said.

DigiTimes claimed that the new Apple TV will switch to “a user interface similar to the iPhone with support for social networking websites, network multimedia and the App Store. Mass production of the device will start in December.”

Aside from the inclusion of an AMD processor, the rumors largely reiterate what was stated in May by assorted web sites. That report indicated that Apple would release a new product that would offer 1080P cloud-based content streaming for just US$99. However, it indicated that the device would run on a custom-built A4 processor, just like the iPad and iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple promises fix for web-based jailbreak flaw in iOS-based devices, declines on specific date

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Date: Thursday, August 5th, 2010, 05:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

The tug-of-war between Apple and the iPhone hacker community continues as Apple has vowed to fix a flaw that allows its iOS-based device to be jailbroken via the Safari web browser.

Per CNET an Apple spokesperson said, “We’re aware of this reported issue, we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.”

Apple declined to say when the update would be available.

If you’ve jailbroken your iOS-based device recently and have any feedback about the experience, let us know what happened and how it went.

Recently unearthed iPad configuration policies provide additional evidence to forthcoming camera

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Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, 06:43
Category: iPad, News

You’re hankering for a camera on the iPad and it may be forthcoming.

Per AppleInsider, iPad management profile policies available to corporate users include the capability to disable use of its camera, providing evidence of future intent to include a camera on upcoming models.

Apple’s configuration profile tools for iOS devices include a variety of settings and restrictions that companies can impose to regulate how the devices are used and to configure services such as VPN and wireless networking access or email, calendar and directory services.

These policies can also force strong passwords and set security features such as the number of times a password attempt can fail before the device wipes its data. Similar to parental controls, the policy settings can also be used to block access to features such as the iTunes Store, Safari, YouTube, or the use of its camera.

While iPhones do have cameras to disable, the current iPad lacks this. However, among the profiles specifically included in its iPad documentation, Apple notes the ability to restrict camera use on the iPad.

Prior to launch, it was widely rumored that the iPad might include a camera. When it shipped, Apple only provided the ability to connect to external cameras through its Dock connector, either via USB or using an SD Card reader adapter.

API support for camera, flash, and zoom functions were discovered in developer builds of the iPad-only iOS 3.2 in February.

While those APIs may have been added as part of software development work performed to support iPhone 4, Apple also posted job listings for a “Performance QA Engineer, iPad Media” which stated, “Build on your QA experience and knowledge of digital camera technology (still and video) to develop and maintain testing frameworks for both capture and playback pipelines.”

Taken together, it appears likely that future versions of iPad will incorporate a camera, most likely a front-facing unit intended to support FaceTime. That video conferencing feature is currently limited to iPhone 4, but Apple plans to make it a widespread standard among mobile devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone Dev Team releases web-based hack for iPhone 4 handset

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Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010, 04:22
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

The iPhone Dev Team raised their hand on Sunday, releasing the first “jailbreak” for the iPhone 4, a browser-based exploit that allows users to run unauthorized code. However, some reported that the modification results in broken MMS and FaceTime functionality.

According to AppleInsider, “comex,” a member of the iPhone Dev Team, released the hack through a website, jailbreakme.com. Users can visit the site in their iPhone browser to begin the jailbreaking process.

The software modification is the first release for Apple’s latest handset hardware, the iPhone 4. Some users reported that the jailbreak managed to break FaceTime and MMS functionality on the device.

Comex announced via a Twitter post that he was able to reproduce the issues, and is working on a fix. The latest jailbreak does not work with iPads running iOS 3.2.1.

Unlike previous jailbreaks, which required users to run software on their Mac or PC and tether their iPhone to their computer, the latest hack is done entirely within the Safari browser. Users simply visit the URL to begin the process, which modifies the iOS mobile operating system found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The iPhone 4 jailbreak comes less than a week after the U.S. Library of Congress officially made it legal for users to jailbreak their iPhone to run unauthorized software. The government approved the measure as an exemption to a federal law which prevents the circumvention of technical measures that keep users from accessing and modifying copyrighted works.

The jailbreak process, which also voids Apple’s warranty of the handset allows users to run software not approved by Apple, which has no plans to allow users to install third-party applications downloaded from outside its sanctioned App Store. Hackers have created their own custom applications (many free, and some for purchase) from an alternative storefront known as Cydia.

Jailbreaking can also be used to unlock a phone, allowing it to be used on carriers that do not have access to the iPhone.

In addition to allowing access to legitimate third-party software, both free and paid, through services like Cydia, jailbreaking can also be used to pirate App Store software, one major reason why Apple has fought the practice.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you decide to jailbreak your iPhone 4, please let us know how it goes.

Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 2, focuses on proximity sensor fixes

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Date: Thursday, July 29th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released the second beta version of the pending iOS 4.1 firmware, although the company has not said when the firmware will be generally available for its iPhone and iPod touch products.

Per Cult of Mac, this beta release of the iOS 4.1 software development kit, available at Apple’s iPhone Dev Center, comes about two weeks after the first one and arrives with speculation that the 4.1 software will fix some glitches for the iPhone 4 proximity sensors and introduce Apple’s promised Game Center social service.

The initial report states that the proximity sensor issue seems to have been fixed. “Previously, the iPhone was plagued with proximity sensor issues,” writes Jose Gutierrez. “It would constantly hang up calls when I held the phone next to my cheek. But after installing the iOS 4.1 beta 2 update this afternoon, I couldn’t force the iPhone to hang up calls when lifting it up to my face, no matter how hard I tried.”

He also says the new beta release includes a baseband update, “which seems to fix HSUPA upload speed issues, which slowed video and photo uploads to a crawl.”

According to several online accounts, the newest beta still does not support the iPad touch tablet. The iPad is running an earlier version of iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Game Review: Pro Zombie Soccer

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 09:03
Category: App Store, Game, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

Pro Zombie Soccer is a game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (still a Pixel-doubled version, not native) distributed by Chillingo and developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team. I’ve never been caught up in the Zombie craze, although I did enjoy Zombieland and Shawn of the Dead, so I was not really excited about this game at first, but a friend assured me that it was a lot of fun and he was right.

Some of the things that made this such a fun game was the artwork and the storyline. While not complicated, the story added enough depth to propel you from scene to scene. The artwork has a punk attitude, similar to what is associated with Gorillaz, and is pretty lively and colorful.

In the game, you are playing the role of Jax, a young, talented soccer player who freezes up while trying out for the big team. While moping about town, the zombie outbreak occurs and Jax is bitten by a zombie who happens to be the star player of the soccer team. Jax soon finds out that his zombie infection has given him super-soccer powers which he decides to use to take down the zombie apocalypse….while he still can.

The controls are simple. You thumb aims the direction that Jax kicks the soccer ball and lifting your thumb fires it off. You have a regular kick, and a super-charged kick at your disposal, but eventually you acquire other “zombie powers” which you can choose from during certain parts of the game. Doing a “head-shot” to a zombie (beheading them) is worth extra points as is several head-shots in a row. Some zombies can only be killed with the super-charged kick, which takes more time to “charge up”. Eventually you run into zombies that can only be killed in a certain way, like ricocheting off a wall, as well as avoiding obstacles like fleeing scientists which, when hit, will end the game. If you finish the game too quickly in Normal mode, you can play through again in Hardcore mode which won’t be so easy. The game’s music is pretty good and in the Extras you’ll find the Music Player which allows you to play back the game’s soundtrack, a total of 16 tracks.

The sound effects and gameplay are great, and everything looks awesome on the iPhone 4’s screen. As of this writing, the game was iOS 4 compatible, but did not take advantage of background app switching. Leaving the game means starting again from the main menu, although it should remember your progress. I didn’t try it on the iPad, but it is compatible with iOS 3.0 and up. I look forward to an HD version, but I hope it’s an Universal app.

The game uses the Crystal gaming network, which I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of, but not because it is a bad system.

I highly recommend this game. It’s fun and relatively easy to play, and the stages make it easy to play a few minutes at a time, or kill 20 minutes or so. Pro Zombie Soccer is a pretty good deal at $2.99.

Apple accepts Library of Congress decision on jailbreaking, still warns of possible warranty violations

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Date: Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, 05:17
Category: iPhone, Legal, News, Software

After years of debate and posturing from both sides, the verdict is in. Per Electronista, the library of Congress has legally sanctioned jailbreaking iOS-based applications under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, thereby allowing non-Apple-approved applications to be run on devices such as the iPhone. While Apple didn’t contest the legality itself, the company stated that jailbreaking would still break the warranty by going beyond what Apple can support. It also stressed that it saw the experience as hurting the experience for some by taking away the speed and reliability they may have expected.

“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone,” commented an Apple spokeswoman. “And we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience.”

The representative wouldn’t directly confront the question of whether Apple would try to sue anyone who would sell jailbreaking tools, but she emphasized Apple’s history and that it hadn’t done so before.

Monday’s Library ruling doesn’t require that Apple or other companies must allow third-party apps in their code but also prevents these firms from legally challenging any jailbreak developed for the purposes of running an app or for unlocking access to other customers. It’s unclear whether the new exemptions would allow commercial development of jailbreaking apps; such software would be designed for a profit, but it it would still be used for individual purposes in most cases.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.