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iTunes URLs Could Soon be Shortened with iTun.es

With the announcement of Ping integration with Twitter, Apple seems to be stepping more and more into the web arena with their products. So, it’s no wonder that they would purchase the iTun.es domain name. But, what could it be used for? We hope an iTunes URL shortening service.

If you have used the Ping-Twitter integration, you probably know about the horribly-long URLs that can get tweeted. After doing some digging around in the WHOIS database, MacRumors found that the iTun.es domain is, in fact, owned by Apple (if the redirect to Apple.com doesn’t solidify it enough).

The domain name was purchased by Apple in December of 2006, but Apple has yet to utilize it. Perhaps the new Twitter integration will finally give them a chance to use the domain to shorten iTunes URLs.

This Could Be The Best Apple Lawsuit Ever!

Did you really think we could go for more than a few weeks without the mentioning a new Apple-centric lawsuit? Of course not.

This time around, a Taiwan-based monitor manufacturer called Proview is swearing up and down that they registered the name I-Pad back in 2000 to be used as a brand for a line of tablet computers that the company launched and subsequently watched fail. The name was, according to Proview, trademarked in Mexico, South Korea, the European Union, Thailand, China and Vietnam. By 2006, Proview felt that the trademarked I-Pad name was worth more than any product line that they could hope to launch. Consequentially, they sold off their trademark rights to the name for every country they’d established it in, with the exception of China. The purchase, made by an unknown American company called IP Application Development, was made for the meager sum of ,100. IP Application Development registered the I-Pad name in the United States this past January. So, who are these IP Application Development guys? Well, they’ve been connected to a shell company called Slate Computing, who in turn have been connected to–you guessed it–Apple.

What did Apple do with it? Have you heard of the iPad? It’s kind of a big deal.

So, where’s the lawsuit in all of this? It seems that Proview is miffed that they sold their intellectual property to Apple without knowing that they were dealing with Apple. It seems that they’re bitter over having been paid so little money for the rights to a name that has in essence, allowed Apple to basically print their own money. In an interview with the Financial Times, Proview’s chairman Yang Rongshan admitted that his company was “…in big financial trouble and the trademarks are a valuable asset that could help us sort out part of that trouble.”

Sigh.

Have no doubt that as soon as further information surrounding this sordid tale becomes available, we’ll let you know.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter


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The Little Emulator That Could: The Rise and Fall of iDOS

iDOS emulator app
(Image courtesy of touchArcade)

It’s a sadly familiar tale: A cool app gets approved into Apple’s App Store and less than 24 hours, it’s gone — the victim of a mysterious approval that probably should never have been. Such is the case with iDOS, an emulator app that plenty of folks were having fun with, right up until Apple yanked the rug out from under the rest of us.

touchArcade is reporting on iDOS, a nifty little 99-cent open source DOS emulator that hit the App Store on Monday night, only to be yanked from sale Tuesday afternoon. Based on DOSbox, the emulator was a universal app with PC keyboard support, mouse support and multiple screen modes — and an awful lot of folks were having fun with it before Apple decided to rain on the parade.

iDOS wasn’t the first emulator to make it into the App Store — a licensed Commodore 64 actually managed to survive Apple’s approval process and has remained for sale for quite some time. iDOS was unique because of its capability to emulate not only old DOS games but even Windows 3.0 and old Sierra adventure games such as Freddy Farkas: Frontier Pharmacist.

Sadly, the fun is over as of Tuesday afternoon, but a free version of the same emulator is now available via Cydia for jailbroken device users. It’s called DOSPad and touchArcade has posted a link with instructions on how to get and use it.

Here’s hoping that perhaps Apple will see the error of their ways and get iDOS back in the App Store — after all, they’ve been on quite a streak lately with previously forbidden apps such as GV Mobile and media players such as VLC which allow playback of just about anything you can throw into it.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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iOS Apps That Transmit Data Could Put User Privacy At Risk

Click image to embiggen

You might not think much about the small applications you might download for your iOS devices that ask to “phone home” (i.e. send information from your device to some known or unknown source). But, new research done at Bucknell University by Eric Smith shows that sometimes applications would transmit data over the network in plain text, allowing network eavesdroppers to potentially steal critical information.

Studying over 57 different applications from the App Store, Smith discovered that besides the UDID (the unique identifier assigned to every iOS device), some applications would also send transmit personally identifiable information over the network, and in some of the instances, the information was transmitted without any encryption at all.

“For example, Amazon’s application communicates the logged-in user’s real name in plain text, along with the UDID, permitting both Amazon.com and network eavesdroppers to easily match a phone’s UDID with the name of the phone’s owner. The CBS News application transmits both the UDID and the iPhone device’s user-assigned name, which frequently contains the owner’s real name,” says Eric Smith in his report.

With some technical, but widely available software like Wireshark, a network eavesdropper could easily access the data being transmitted from your device to the application’s home server. This is where the potential security risk exists. Because only a few applications use SSL encryption for the transmission, the personal data is sent over the network in plain, readable text.

Hopefully Apple will be able to address this issue in the future by potentially requiring app developers to give full disclosure about the type of data they are collecting and transmitting, or by creating a way for developers to collect this data and transmit it in a more secure manner.

You can read the full report by Eric Smith by clicking here [PDF link].

via Ars Technica

 

Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.

 

 

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Safari 5.0 AutoFill Feature Could Leave Your Information Vulnerable

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Security researcher Jeremiah Grossman discovered a security vulnerability that could give any website the ability to steal user information from Safari’s AutoFill feature that grabs user information from Address Book on the Mac. Apple countered Grossman by releasing Safari 5.0.1 that supposedly corrected the issue, but Grossman has found another potentially dangerous way to grab user information from Apple’s flagship web browser.

To get the user information, Grossman setup a “game” whereby the user needed to type a “U” to jump. When the user typed the U, the text was placed in the country field, telling Safari to go ahead and automatically fill out the entire form with personal user information, including first name, last name, city, state, email, phone, street, country, and the zip (or postal) code.

“To perform our attack requires tiny bit of end-user trickery. Two button presses to be precise. A malicious website detects (ie: IP address) the country the victim is from. For our purposes here we’ll assume the “US.” The attacker invisibly (CSS transparency) sets up the aforementioned form and forces the keystroke focus into the country element. Notice how this is done in the video on the right side of the screen, which only visible for demonstration purposes. Next the attacker entices the victim to type “U” (first character of “US”) and then press “TAB.” And BAM! That’s it! Data stolen,” says Grossman on his blog.

Grossman also posted a video showing the exploit in progress, which you can find on his post.

Apple has yet to address this potential exploit, but with any vulnerability like this, you can always combat the problem by turning off the affected feature. By disabling the AutoFill feature in Safari, you are essentially killing this hack. You can disable AutoFill by navigating to Safari > Preferences > AutoFill and unchecking the box labeled “Using info from my Address Book card.”

via MacRumors

 

Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.

 

 

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Why the Verizon App Store Could Save Android Without Hurting iTunes

I’ve been a Verizon customer for ten years now, since before you could purchase a monthly texting plan and unlimited minutes. I was with the company when they switched from black-and-green cell phone displays to color ones, and when Motorola was still considered one of the top tier mobile handset manufacturers. I remember my first phone with a color display–the Motorola T720i–and marveling at the phone’s texting and mobile web capabilities (back then, it only cost a month to get on Mobile Web). But then, as the phones became more colorful, and might I add “smarter”, Verizon introduced its own app store of sorts, called Get It Now. 

This “app store” was chock full of downloadable ringtones and instant messaging software, and games from well-known publishers like EA. It also introduced the idea of paying for specific software for your mobile phone that could enable your little device to do more than you thought it was capable of. At the time, it was a great idea to put this kind of expandability on a phone–the kind of handsets that we would refer to now as “dumb” phones. But as the cell phone market grew–and when Apple stormed the market with its very own app-enabled phone, the iPhone–Verizon had to up the ante a bit. When it introduced Android phones into its handset family late last year, those of us holding out were pleased to hear that our loyalty was honored with an operating system that was open source and an app store that wasn’t as closed as Apple’s.

But we were soon disappointed when we realized that Verizon hasn’t changed its ways. If you’re an avid listener of our weekly podcast, you might already know that I’m an Android user myself, and am smitten with the hardware performance of my HTC Incredible, call quality included. But while the cell service hasn’t let me down, the news that Verizon is planning on force feeding its own app store on its smartphone users rubbed me the wrong way at first. Why does there need to be two app stores on my phone? I’m fine with the Android marketplace and I know how to navigate it so that I stay out of trouble. Why do I have to have this extra icon in my app list when I’m not even going to use this thing? 

What didn’t occur to me is that I’m not really the typical Verizon customer. It’s my job to know these app stores from left to right, but there are a ton of Verizon users out there who are just entering the smart phone market. The minute they step into the Android Market, things get pretty shady. It’s like picking up furniture from off the street–you never know if you’re bringing home bed bugs or some other sort of nasty critters. And then if you place that nasty couch in your home, the bed bugs spread everywhere, and pretty soon you’re writhing on the floor, desperately trying to scratch the itch. In Android’s case, you never know if you’re downloading an app that’s hiding something malicious, and you might even come across something that could actually do some everlasting damage to your phone. 

Let me tell you from firsthand experience, the idea that you may have “bricked” your phone because of software will bring you to tears. I’ve always appreciated the fact that Apple requires you to sync your iPhone with iTunes because if things go bad, you always have a backup waiting for you on your hard drive. But in my case, if my phone goes kaput, all I’ve got are my contacts and recent calls saved in Google’s cloud–my apps are all gone. To add insult to injury, there is no Android Marketplace account that keeps track of the apps you purchase because developers use Google Checkout. So without the iTunes backbone, I am virtually alone in this ever expanding marketplace, and I can’t even tether the thing for free. 

So this is where the Verizon app store could actually save Android because it can offer a regulated marketplace where the transactions are actually accounted for. No longer will Verizon Android users purchase apps from unknown developers. Instead, Verizon will make sure that these apps are fit for the phones they’re selling, and account for the cash passed between developer and consumer. The Verizon app store would only work on handsets stocked with Android 2.2, but it would be a great entry point for new smartphone users who are terribly afraid of contracting a virus on their pricey handsets. I wouldn’t put it past Verizon to overcharge for these applications, anyway, but at least they could be trusted. And like Apple’s App Store, that means that someone would be looking to make sure that the apps in the store aren’t completely a waste of time–if you thought Apple had a problem with Fart apps, you haven’t seen the myriad of lame soundboards and “skins” that are infiltrating the Android Marketplace. By comparison, the Apple apps that are approved are better because there is someone on the other side saying, “We have enough of these silly apps. Let’s try some other kind of silly app from now on.” There’s no one to do that for Android, and I am not at all amused with the variety of Peter Griffin soundboard apps available right now. 

There is one major problem I foresee from a Verizon app store, however. Currently, there’s a Verizon apps section in the Android Market, called Vcast Apps. The page includes suggestions from Verizon of Android apps that you might want to download–like Skype, the official Twitter app, and Layar–and a few of Verizon’s own proprietary applications that were annoyingly installed on my Incredible when I updated to Froyo. One of these apps includes Verizon’s own navigation app, which I’m too afraid to even start up lest I incur an extra charge on my already expensive monthly bill. On the older Verizon phones, navigation was also available, which makes sense if you’re stuck with a sort of “regular” phone (as I like to call it these days) and want to opt in for that feature. But for a platform like Android that already comes with a very powerful navigation system (with turn-by-turn directions, even), why bothering offering another?

Well, I’d wager that it’s because Verizon wants to make money off of consumers that don’t know any better. It’s an extra for Verizon’s navigation application to work; Google Maps is free with any data plan. I think Verizon is afraid of losing its monopoly in this open Android market and not being able to profit from it. It’s not necessarily that the app doesn’t work as well or that it is any better than what’s offered for free, it’s that Verizon wants you to pay them so that they can have a little more control over your phone. 

Android is an open platform and I doubt Google will ever bother to fight with carriers because of its open nature. They probably just care about getting their software on as many devices as possible. Great for them, but bad for the average consumer, who may not be aware that based on their carrier they may not be getting a very “open” market place after all. This is why I prefer Apple’s infrastructure. They’ve got a piece of software in iTunes that, even with its flaws, keeps your phone tied to your computer so that your data is never lost. And, their regulated App Store means that I don’t have to sift through pages of crap apps looking for what I want. Apple is smart enough to offer up the right kind of competition by allowing in more than one type of app, so even if there are a variety of flashlight apps to choose from, they all offer something a bit different. With Android, it’s the carriers that have control–essentially, The Man–and with the iPhone, your App Store is run by Jolly Ol’ Father Apple (Um, Steve?). 

Verizon obviously wants the iPhone to steal AT&T customers away, and they know that this is only slightly possible because they, purportedly, have better service (this is all depending on your coverage area, but roll with us here). You can bet that Apple won’t be lenient about letting Verizon tromp over its App S
tore the way it has with Google’s Android Marketplace. Just like with AT&T, Apple will play hardball. But, this is a good thing. It’s not that we can’t expect Verizon will have these exact same apps in the App Store if Apple does release a CDMA iPhone (all of which will undergo their own arduous App Store approval process), but it means that Verizon will have to figure out a way to move away from their old habits and become accustomed to the new reality of app marketplaces.

If Verizon moves away from this model, then it will be easier for the carrier to compete in the smartphone war. After all, who would consider switching to Verizon if it meant that their iPhone was going to be filled with proprietary apps? All they care for are the ones that Apple gives them. If the CDMA iPhone stays the same as its predecessor, then Apple fans will have more of a reason to head to another carrier because it will be just the same as AT&T’s. And Verizon loyalists will jump for joy because finally, their carrier isn’t offering a phone that’s bloated with proprietary apps.

So tell us, readers. How would you feel if Verizon put in their own proprietary apps on your iPhone? Would you still be inclined to switch carriers? Do you still think a CDMA iPhone is even in the cards at this point?

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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IPA God Source Code Available For Sale, Could Enable App Store Piracy

iOS App Store piracy could be right around the corner for non-jailbroken devices if the source code of a new iPhone app falls into the wrong hands. IPA God recently made the news as an application that allows someone with a non-jailbroken iOS device to pirate (download for free) paid applications from the iTunes App Store. Now that the source code for this application is for sale, allowing anyone to purchase and distribute this application to the masses.

App Store piracy has been around for a while, but it is not widely available to people as the device is required to be jailbroken. IPA God works around this by using an exploit the developers found in iOS 4.1 and 4.2.

According to a forum post on iModZone, the developers will be selling their Twitter account, source code, and instructions for using the application. The auction will go until Tuesday at 12PM EST.

According to one of the developers, “our server is located in China…we host a lot of cracked ipas and cracked Cydia apps for years, so we have no problem about copyright since it’s not existing in China!”

This application could be detrimental for many developers that make a living from the iTunes App Store. If the application makes its rounds, this could steal valuable sales from developers. But there is good news in knowing that the application may not work as described as no one has seen the source code. But that isn’t stopping aspiring purchasers as the current auction price is at £20,000 (,242 USD).

The developers did post a video to YouTube showing the application, but we have to question the validity of the app.

You can read more about this application on Read Write Web.

 

Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.


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Apple's Policy Changes Could Have Been Result of FTC Investigation [Updated]

Since Apple’s big policy changes in app development yesterday, software developers have been jumping for joy at the freedom to build their own applications with whatever tool they well choose. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s change in policy on its third party app development may have a little something to do with being under fire from the FTC.

WSJ says that this could have all taken place around June, when the FTC launched an investigation to figure out whether or not Apple had violated antitrust laws with its earlier, more restrictive, policy. It’s not clear if Apple’s statements yesterday had anything to do with this alleged investigate.

Still, the revised policy has its fair share of restrictions as well. iOS device users are still not be able to use Flash on their mobile devices. The only major change in policy is that developers are now allowed to use Flash-based software to piece together their apps and can use other types of programming languages.

There is also some speculation that Apple’s relaxed position could also have to do with pressure to compete with Google’s Android Market, since the Android mobile operating system is now making its way to tablets. Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with technology firm Forrester Research, said in the WSJ article that some developers are beginning to develop apps with Android Market first so that they can actually reel in some cash while they’re waiting to get in through the final stages of Apple’s approval process. 

Regardless of what the real reason is for Apple’s new policy, it’s undoubtedly welcome by developers, especially the ones that have had to cut down on features in their app because they’ve been denied time and time again.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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Tablet Optimized Android OS Could Be In The Cards

One of the great things about Google’s Android OS is that with its open platform, hardware manufacturers can slap it on any device they darn well please. They can modify it to suit their needs and skin it to their heart’s content.

But this is also one of the rotten things about Android. If pushed too far, the OS might still boast top-level functionality, but can often lose much of the stability and flexibility it had when Google let it out of the gate. If you cram Android into a device it’s not meant for–a tablet computer, for example–plenty of important features, such as the ability to use third-party applications available in Android Market, will simply refuse to work.

We’re sure you’ll agree that this sort of thing simply won’t do. Fortunately, our sister site TechRadar has some good news for those of you eagerly waiting to tap and swipe your life away on something other than an iPad. Google has indicated that a tablet optimized version of Android is in the works.

While Google hasn’t been caught speaking directly about the fact that an Android solution for tablets will be available soon, TechRadar has managed to connect a few dots for us. Google has indicated that they’re looking to produce a new version of Android for tablets that will provuide users with the “right experience” when shopping at the Android Market. The search engine giant figures that the best way to sort the problem out is to provide manufactuers with an OS solution geared towards use on a tablet computing device, rather than simply “blowing up” the mobile version.

There is no word on when an official announcment might be made by Google, but we’ll defintely keep you posted, at least to poke some fun at it.

 

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Apple's Policy Changes Could Have Been Result of FCC Investigation

Since Apple’s big policy changes in app development yesterday, software developers have been jumping for joy at the freedom to build their own applications with whatever tool they well choose. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s change in policy on its third party app development may have a little something to do with being under fire from the FCC.

WSJ says that this could have all taken place around June, when the FCC launched an investigation to figure out whether or not Apple had violated antitrust laws with its earlier, more restrictive, policy. It’s not clear if Apple’s statements yesterday had anything to do with this alleged investigate.

Still, the revised policy has its fair share of restrictions as well. iOS device users are still not be able to use Flash on their mobile devices. The only major change in policy is that developers are now allowed to use Flash-based software to piece together their apps and can use other types of programming languages.

There is also some speculation that Apple’s relaxed position could also have to do with pressure to compete with Google’s Android Market, since the Android mobile operating system is now making its way to tablets. Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with technology firm Forrester Research, said in the WSJ article that some developers are beginning to develop apps with Android Market first so that they can actually reel in some cash while they’re waiting to get in through the final stages of Apple’s approval process. 

Regardless of what the real reason is for Apple’s new policy, it’s undoubtedly welcome by developers, especially the ones that have had to cut down on features in their app because they’ve been denied time and time again.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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