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Apple removes iOS jailbreak detection API

Apple has quietly removed or disabled an API meant to allow security software to detect jailbroken devices from afar, only months after adding it to iOS. NetworkWorld reports that the API, introduced in iOS 4.0, was part of a bundle of mobile device management APIs, but is not functional under iOS 4.2. In simple terms, the API allowed security software to remotely query the OS to see if it had been compromised, but according to one security engineer, the API was simple one piece of a larger set of checks used to determine jailbreak status. “We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Sybase, which offers Afaria device management software. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Owen added that the API itself might not have been 100 percent reliable, as certain jailbreak routines could have compromised its functionality. “It’s an interesting concept - asking the OS to tell you if it has been compromised,” he added. “Because a smart attacker might first change that very part of the OS. Jailbreaks often get better and better at disguising the fact that anything has been compromised.” Enterprises used the API, and still employ other jailbreak detection techniques, to block jailbroken devices from accessing potentially sensitive corporate data. Apple has yet to acknowledge the change in API status or give any reason for its apparent removal.

Apple searching for Verizon iPad engineer

A new Apple job posting reveals that the company is looking for a Verizon iPad engineer. The job carries the official title of Verizon iPad System Engineer, but surprisingly doesn’t involve work on any cellular radio or network technology. Instead, the iPad System Engineer will “work with the carrier business teams, business customers, and Apple sales resources to drive the adoption of iPad in enterprise accounts,” and will be responsible for “developing carrier relationships within the carrier technical teams.” The listing calls for someone with enterprise sales experience, knowledge of VPN, Wi-Fi, and enterprise security technologies, and, if possible, hands-on experience with Microsoft Exchange Active Sync and Exchange Server. While it appears as though the position could be aimed at helping to drive enterprise sales of the Wi-Fi-only iPad at Verizon, it also serves as further evidence of the expanding collaborative relationship between Apple and Verizon. [via Engadget | Electronista]

Toshiba building plant to make LCDs for Apple

  • December 13, 2010
  • Apple

Toshiba will spend roughly $1.2 billion to build a new factory for making small LCD panels, primarily for Apple, according to a new report. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reports that the factory will be built in the Ishikawa prefecture and will produce high-resolution, low-temperature polysilicon LCD panels. Work on the plant is expected to start by early next year with production expected to begin in the second half of 2011; Toshiba already makes such panels at a nearby factory, and its month production capacity of 8.55 million units is expected to more than double with the new factory. Notably, the report claims that Apple will invest a portion of the investment necessary to build the new factory; the report did not indicate in which product or products the panels may be used.

Judge dismisses patent complaint against Apple

  • December 13, 2010
  • Apple

A federal judge in Seattle has dismissed a patent infringement complaint filed against Apple and several other tech companies for being too vague. The lawsuit was filed by Interval Licensing, a company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and alleged that Apple, along with Google, YouTube, Facebook, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Staples, and OfficeMax, infringes on four patents owned by Interval. The Wall Street Journal reports that both Google and Apple filed motions to dismiss the suit, claiming that the complaint didn’t specify which of the various companies’ products were infringing. “The allegations in the complaint are spartan,” wrote U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in her decision. Interval has until December 28 to file an amended complaint, which a spokesperson for Allen indicated was in the company’s plans, calling the dismissal a “procedural issue.”

Apple adds iTun.es URLs, playlists to Ping

Apple has started using its iTun.es domain as a URL shortener, while adding playlist sharing to Ping, its new music-focused social network. The iTun.es domain, which Apple purchased in 2006, is now used for shortening URLs in Twitter updates sent from Ping. As 9 to 5 Mac notes, Apple previously used the t.co URL shortening service with Ping. In addition, Apple has added the ability for Ping users to create playlists which can be shared, added to by friends, rated, and reviewed. To create a playlist, users simply need to click on the “Create a Ping Playlist” link on the right side of Ping’s Recent Activity page, and then search for songs to add—unfortunately, users are currently unable to import previously made iTunes playlists into Ping.

Apple bidding on Nortel wireless patents

Apple is among several companies expected to bid on patents owned by telecom company Nortel Networks. Reuters reports that the patents, which pertain to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), are expected to draw bids Apple, Google, Motorola, and Research In Motion as the companies fight legal battles over patents related to mobile handsets. The patents are part of an auction of bankrupt Nortel Networks’ portfolio of intellectual property, which also includes patents relating to optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers. The auction is said to have been underway for about seven months. [via Mac Rumors]

Costco confirms break with Apple

As first reported by iLounge in October, membership club Costco has confirmed that it is phasing out all Apple products per a mutual agreement between the two companies. Speaking to The Seattle Times, Costco CFO Richard Galanti said that the company had sold iPods and iTunes Gift Cards for years, but Apple had never allowed the retailer to sell its products online, as it did other retailers. “In the past couple months, we agreed to wind down,” he added. Costco is the third-largest retailer in the U.S., with 425 stateside warehouses, more than a quarter of which are in Apple’s home state of California.

90 second song previews appear on iTunes Store

Apple has begun the process of rolling out 90 second song previews on the iTunes Store. According to a letter from Apple to its music distribution and label partners that leaked online last month, the company is increasing the length of music previews on the iTunes Store in the U.S. from 30 seconds to 90 seconds for all songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. The letter also stated that by continuing to offer their music on the iTunes Store, the labels are indicating acceptance of the new terms, meaning that any label not wishing to participate would need to pull their music from the store. Notably, it seems the lengthier new previews are appearing on top/featured songs and albums first, while many older, less popular titles have yet to see their preview times increased. [via BGR]

App Store promo codes now work internationally

Apple has removed its restrictions on where App Store promo codes can be used, allowing developers to send codes to journalists and other users worldwide. “Your promo code distribution is no longer limited to U.S. customers,” says the Apple alert, reposted by Mackinando (Translated Link). “Promo codes in iTunes Connect can now be redeemed by all App Store customers worldwide. Your Team Agent can request 50 codes per version of your app in iTunes Connect and your customers can redeem these codes in any App Store. To learn more about requesting promo codes in iTunes Connect, see the iTunes Connect Developer Guide.” [via Mac Rumors]

iPhone game specialist leaves Apple

Long time game designer and programmer Graeme Devine has left Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies division. According to Kotaku, Devine’s last day with the company was Friday. “My job there was basically to make gaming on the iOS devices fantastic,” Devine said. “Basically that meant looking at the technologies involved and making sure the software played well with the hardware, to look at upcoming hardware/API and say ‘Yup, that is a good thing’. Apple didn’t have an in-house game designer before me so I think it was pretty unique, game technologies touch everything from the graphics stack to touch latency to push notifications. No other app type covers so many technologies and having someone there to validate and help shape that was basically my day job.” Devine, who joined the company in November 2009, said that gamers shouldn’t worry about his departure from the company, saying, “I can’t comment on what’s next inside Apple, but I can tell you, they really do ‘get’ gaming.”

Apple lowers prices on refurb iPads, adds 3G models

Apple has lowered its prices on its refurbished iPad Wi-Fi units while adding 3G offerings. Compared to the prior discount of $50 off retail for Wi-Fi models, the 16GB model is now $429, or $70 lower than retail units, while the 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models have seen their prices slashed to $499 and $599, respectively, a discount of $100 off retail. The refurbished Wi-Fi + 3G models are discounted $50 off of retail bringing their pricing to $579-$779. Apple first started selling refurbished iPads in September; all refurbished units include a standard one-year limited warranty.

MarketWatch names Jobs ‘CEO of the Decade’

MarketWatch has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs the “CEO of the Decade.” In a lengthy profile accompanying the award, Jobs is praised for turning the company around in the late ‘90s, for the stream of successful product introductions—iTunes, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad—that have come since, and for driving the company’s stock price upward. “The resurrection of Apple is just the most astounding story that’s probably happened in business in at least a decade — you might be able to go further and say it’s a half-century,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a technology-industry think tank. “It’s on par with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in terms of its total impact.” The article also compares Jobs to Walt Disney; Jobs served as CEO of Pixar for much of the decade before selling the animation studio to The Walt Disney Company, in turn becoming its biggest individual shareholder and securing himself a seat on the board.

European telcos claim Apple, Google should pay for network improvements

A group of European carriers is arguing that companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook should help pay for the multi-billion dollar network investments needed to support their bandwidth-intensive services, according to a Bloomberg report. “Service providers are flooding networks with no incentive” to cut costs, said France Telecom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard last month. “It’s necessary to put in place a system of payments by service providers as a function of their use.” Richard addressed the issue at the “Le Web” conference in Paris this week, and has joined with Telecom Italia CEO Franco Bernabe and Telefonica SA CEO Cesar Alierta in arguing for a new business model. Bernabe said that the disparity between investments and revenue “is set to compromise the economic sustainability of the current business model for telecom companies,” adding that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Skype “increasingly look like integrated operators in the telecom network sector.”

The article sites IDC as estimating that the number of mobile data connections in western Europe will rise by an average of 15 percent a year to 270 million in 2014, while overall end-user revenue will fall about 1 percent a year. Canalys adds that carriers’ average spending on network infrastructure over the same period will jump 28 percent to roughly $3.8 billion. Companies like Google and Yahoo! “use Telefonica’s networks for free, which is good news for them and a tragedy for us,” Alierta said in February. “That can’t continue.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the service providers themselves don’t agree with the carriers’ position. “Currently about 40 percent of our expenses go to networks anyway—servers, peering, our content delivery network, and other resources,” said Giuseppe de Martino, legal and regulatory director for Paris-based online-video service Dailymotion SA. “If telecom operators want us to share in their expenses, perhaps we should talk about sharing subscription revenues as well.”

Apple releases VoiceOver Kit 1.4 for iPod nano, shuffle

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Apple has released version 1.4 of its VoiceOver Kit for the fifth-generation iPod nano and third- and fourth-generation iPod shuffle. VoiceOver enables the devices to announce the names of playlists, songs, and artists, as well as battery status and other messages. According to Apple’s release notes, the new version offers pronunciation improvements for many artist and song names, improved voices for Korean, German, and Russian, and fourth-generation iPod shuffle support for Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, and Thai languages. VoiceOver Kit 1.4 is a 32.5MB download and is available for download now via Apple’s Software Update utility.

Apple sending out free iTunes Movie Rental codes?

Apple has started sending out free iTunes Movie Rental codes to select iTunes users, according to a new report. Citing an email received by a reader, 9 to 5 Mac reports that the included code is good for one rental from iTunes’ library of over 8,500 movies, and that the distribution of the codes seems to be random. Most likely, Apple is attempting to use the promotion to raise awareness of Movie Rentals on the iTunes Store, perhaps hoping to boost sales of the second-generation Apple TV in the process.

Apple now selling iPad Gift Card packages

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Apple’s retail stores are now offering “iPad Gift Card” packages for the holidays. As seen in our photos, the iPad gift cards aren’t specially-printed cards with iPad imagery on them, but instead appear to be standard Apple Store gift cards that have been placed inside iPad-specific packaging. Interestingly, customers weren’t initially able to purchase iPads with Apple Store gift cards, as company policy required users to pay with a debit or credit card.

EA exec: Apple would have ‘good chance’ in console market

In an interview with CVG, Electronic Arts vice president Patrick Soderlund said he believes Apple would have a fighting chance in the video game console market should it choose to enter. When asked whether Apple would have a shot at challenging Sony and Microsoft in the console market, Soderlund said, “If it was anyone but Apple, I’d say that’s going to be very hard.” He continued, “I still think it’s going to be extremely hard for them but they’ve surprised many people before. Look at what they did with the iPhone, right? They are a truly brilliant company so I would give them a relatively good chance to succeed if they tried.” [via MDN]

Apple, publishers disagree on iTunes subscription terms

Apple is at a standstill in talks with magazine publishers over the terms of a potential iTunes subscription model, according to a new report. Citing anonymous publishing sources, AllThingsD reports that Apple is offering publishers the ability to sell app subscriptions through iTunes, 70 percent of revenue, and the ability to offer a simple opt-in form for gleaning name, address, and e-mail address. The publishers are apparently unhappy with the revenue split model, preferring to sell subscriptions themselves, but are more at odds over the lack of access to subscribers’ credit card data, which is valuable to them for marketing purposes and allows them to bundle the digital subscriptions with traditional print media. The report also notes that a News Corp. executive said the company’s upcoming iPad newspaper the Daily won’t launch until the first quarter of 2011, but expects it to showcase a new “push” feature from Apple that will allow new issues to be downloaded to an iPad automatically. Notably, News Corp. owns AllThingsD.

Apple makes changes to Universal Dock package

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Apple has made a number of small but notable changes to its Apple Universal Dock kit. The new set includes the Universal Dock, which looks similar to the company’s 2007 model, Apple’s new aluminum Remote, Dock Adapters to fit the iPhone 4, iPhone 3G/3GS, iPod touch 2G/3G, iPod touch 4G, and iPod nano 5G, a USB power adapter and USB cable. Perhaps due to the inclusion of the charger, the revised Universal Dock package now sells for $59, compared to $49 for the prior version. Apple’s new Universal Dock is available now. [via Mac Rumors]

Update: Apple has also made changes to its Component and Composite AV Cable packages, lowering the price on each by $10 to $39, while removing the USB Power Adapter. [Thanks, Tim]

Apple posts new 4.2.1-focused iPad TV spot

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Apple has posted its latest iPad television ad, focusing on the new features of iOS 4.2.1. Like its prior “iPad is…” commercials, the new spot—entitled “iPad is Amazing”—shows the iPad being used mostly in front of a white background, utilizing a variety of different apps and features. The spot starts with the words “iPad is” on the screen, and is followed by a different app or feature demonstration, along with a descriptor—including “creating,” “printing,” “vital,” “ideas,” “multi-tasking,” “facts,” “figures,” and “amazing,” the last showing a movie being streamed to an Apple TV using AirPlay. As with the prior “iPad is” ads, it features the song “Never Stop” by Gonzales in the background. Apple’s new “iPad is Amazing” ad is available for viewing on the company’s website.

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