January 27, 2012

Weird iOS 5 Bug Lets Preying Eyes View Saved Photos On A Locked iPhone

Weird iOS 5 Bug Lets Preying Eyes View Saved Photos On A Locked iPhone

A Canadian technical consultant by the name of Ade Barkah has uncovered a particularly weird bug in iOS 5 that lets anyone see a locked iPhone’s Camera Roll from the device’s lock screen. The only catch is that viewable photos must have a time stamp that’s newer than the iPhone’s internal clock.

If an iPhone’s clock were to ever roll back or get manually set to a time in the past, any photo taken after that date can be easily seen by means of the Camera app shortcut on the iOS lock screen.

Barkah explains:

I was intrigued at how the Camera app’s album manager was able to segregate your “protected” images vs. the ones from the current session.  It’s like a “jail” for images.  I wondered if I could break out of this image jail.

Turns out Apple’s restriction is just a simple filter based on the timestamp when the Camera app was invoked.  You’re allowed to see all images with a timestamp greater than this invocation time.  Yet that leads to an immediate hole: if your iPhone’s clock ever rolls back, then all images with timestamps newer than your iPhone’s clock will be viewable from your locked phone.

But time always moves forward, right? Why would your phone’s clock ever roll backwards?

The tech consultant discovered this bug while traveling from Canada to Argentina. iOS 5 allows you to take a picture quickly from the lock screen by double tapping the Home button. A small camera icon then appears to the right of the ‘slide to unlock’ bar. If you have a password enabled on your iPhone, you can’t access the Camera Roll from this shortcut without first entering your 4-digit PIN.

It’s odd that a simple timestamp would unlock access to an iPhone’s entire photo collection. You can try this bug yourself by manually setting your iPhone’s clock back to a random time in the past (2010, etc.). Make sure your password is on and try to access your Camera Roll from your lock screen. You’ll see every photo that was taken after your iPhone’s internal date.

Barkah argues that, although this bug isn’t a huge security flaw, it’s something that Apple should address:

The point to all this is that Apple should not rely on a simple timestamp to restrict image access.  Changing the iPhone’s clock — forwards or backwards — should notaffect its security.  We can’t guarantee the clock will always monotonically more forward, and when it doesn’t, the system should fail-secure.

(via CNET)

Cult of Mac

GymPact for iPhone pays you to hit the gym

If you need motivation to get to the gym when you find your desire to stick to your resolutions waning, GymPact is offering a financial incentive to actually get you to go.

The free app works when you commit to go to the gym and then set a monetary amount for each day. You must go at least one day a week, and you have to set at least a $ 5 penalty for missing a day of exercise. If you meet your goal, GymPact will give you a cash reward, minus a 3 percent cut for GymPact, culled from that ever-growing pot of those who floundered and decided to watch “Man vs. Food Nation” rather than hit the gym.

Pacts are made on a weekly basis, so you’re not locked into them like you are into a gym contract. And don’t try sitting on your couch pretending you’re at the gym either. The app’s GPS integration will quickly confirm that you’re not there. GymPact only applies to valid fitness centers, so your corner of the living room or office gym won’t count.

GymPact is available now, though some people are reporting issues signing up through the recently released app. If you don’t want to put your money on the line but do want ideas on getting in shape for the new year, check out our suggested apps for sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

[via TechCrunch]



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office To Your iPad For Free

CloudOn Brings Microsoft Office To Your iPad For Free

It’s been rumored that Microsoft is planning an iPad version of its popular Office productivity suite, but until then, we’ve got a free alternative. CloudOn is an iPad app that brings Word, Powerpoint, and Excel to your favorite Apple tablet.

CloudOn integrates with Dropbox to let you edit and create documents on the go. Your work is then synced back to your desktop.

CloudOn lets you:

- Use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your iPad to create or edit documents.
- Rename, delete and manage documents with your Dropbox account
- Display, edit or create charts, change formatting, spell check, insert comments, into any Word, Excel or PowerPoint files
- Track changes while reviewing Word documents
- Use pivot tables and insert formulas in Excel workbooks
- Display and edit animation or transitions in PowerPoint presentations
- Present in full PowerPoint mode (not in PDF)
- Open files directly from your iPad email accounts or Dropbox account
- Automatically save documents to avoid losing changes

You’ll need a Dropbox account to sync your work across devices. Because the app is heavily server-based, the buttons and actions can tend to be a bit sluggish. All of the main Office features you would expect are included, so the app is worth a try for iPad-owning Office fanatics. Download CloudOn for free in the App Store and let us know what you think.

Coincidentally, Apple offers its iWork suite in the App Store. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers can all be download for $ 9.99 each. You’ll get all the tools that Microsoft offers in a more intuitive interface. It’s a small price to pay for not having to use that hideous menu ribbon.

Cult of Mac

How Apple iBooks needs to compete with Amazon: KDP Select

Amazon has trailblazed; Apple has followed. Apple’s iBooks program currently allows authors to self-publish ebooks. Authors create their own business built around iTunes Connect, just as they do for self-published apps.

So where does Apple have room to improve? What follows is the first of several posts about how iBooks can improve to better compete with Amazon. In this post, I discuss Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program and what Apple can do in response.

KDP Select

When Amazon launched its recent KDP Select program, the independent publish world reacted strongly and negatively. KDP Select is built around exclusive Amazon listings, requiring authors to withdraw their titles from competing vendors like Apple’s iBooks, Smashwords, and Lulu. If you want to participate in Select, you cannot sell your book in any form with any other vendor.

You must enroll books for a minimum of 90 days. During this time, Select allows authors to loan their books for, well, free — and promote their books by giving them away, again, for free.

Sounds bad, right?

As a lure, Amazon has promised a shared pot of $ 500K per month for December 2011 and monthly through 2012, with a total commitment of six million dollars. (The first month is over and Amazon has not yet announced per-borrow reward amounts; most involved are guessing in the range of cents-per-borrow.)

What’s more, it’s a zero sum game: the more authors who play in the arena, the fewer dollars there are for each. Sounds bad, but is it a losing proposition for authors?

Personal experience shows that for niche and underperforming titles, KDP Select is actually a great way to gain market traction.

Target Market

KDP Select with its unlimited free loans and exclusivity requirements is clearly not a game that any well-established book wants to play in. “Talking to Siri: Learning the Language of Apple’s Intelligent Assistant” is an ebook by TUAW editor Steve Sande and myself that has been selling quite well on both Amazon and iBooks. It will soon debut as a print book with Addison Wesley/Que.

We declined to enroll it in KDP Select. We could not see any advantage from withdrawing it from iBooks or offering it as a free loan book.

Instead, we focused on a couple of our highly geeky Kindle Fire-specific titles. These titles cover Email and Third Party Content. In response to Amazon, we withdrew these from iBooks, added them to the KDP Select program and have seen surprisingly good results.

That’s because KDP Select trades off promotion for free copies. I personally used one of my five KDP promotion free days on Christmas for my Kindle Fire Third Party Content ebook. Mind you, this is a small very narrowly-focused ebook that shows readers how to incorporate content outside of the Amazon system on your tablet. In other words, it’s never going to be a general best seller.

That day, my sales numbers jumped from modest into the high triple digits. I made no money of course, as each copy was given away for free, but the book’s momentum carried it forward to very gratifying sales for the week that followed. In exchange for cultivating a cadre of exclusive-to-Amazon titles, their program is helping authors promote for very low fixed costs on Amazon’s part.

Amazon’s Outlay

Amazon has commited to $ 500,000 per month to share among KDP Select authors. This money is apportioned by loan popularity. A hot fiction title climbing the Amazon charts will do a lot better than a niche geek nonfiction title. One loan is one vote. Authors must compete against each other to gain a portion of the half-million pot of dollars.

In addition to this basic fixed-outlay scheme, Amazon has some basic infrastructure costs with regard to loan management and title promotion.

Apple’s Response

To date, Apple has not focused highly on independent authors. This is a shame as more and more self-published works are emerging outside the bounds of traditional publishing.

As I’ll explain in my next post, to publish on iBooks, you’ll need a properly formatted and validated ePub file and a costly registered ISBN (International Standard Book Number). On Amazon, all you need is passion and a Microsoft Word doc file. Add KDP Select to the mix and many potential iBooks titles will never make it to the Apple bookshelf. They’ll be limited exclusively to Amazon.

Amazon’s pre-emptive raid into the independent publisher’s world is cutting off titles, both present and future, from iBooks, and other platforms. If Apple hopes to lure these authors to its store, it’s going to have to react, and react strongly. Something has to draw them away from Amazon and from KDP Select.

Apple needs to provide these authors with a reason to stay away from exclusive Amazon listings, and potentially to list exclusively with Apple.

Right now, it does so by offering better terms than Amazon. With Apple, authors receive a full 70% of list price with no delivery fees, the bane of Amazon sales. On Amazon, delivery fees that are linked to file size can cut a chunk of profit out of any book listed for $ 2.99 or higher. (Items listed at 30% royalty rates, or sold for under $ 2.99 are exempted from delivery fees.)

The problem is that, at least in our experience, Amazon sells better than iBooks, particularly for smaller titles. Items are more discoverable on Amazon and Apple does little to promote independents. If Apple were to provide some way for smaller authors to market more discoverably on the iBooks store, they could grow that indie community.

Apple also needs to provide more and better author peer support. Authors, who regularly congregate on Amazon’s forums, find little equivalent on Apple’s sites.

Apple could also hire iBooks evangelists, in parallel to their World Wide Developer Relations, to teach potential authors about iBook authoring tools, how to use iTunes Connect, and provide book publishing road shows — but more about that in my next post.

Will Apple offer its own exclusive agreements in response to KDP Select, as recent unsourced rumors seem to suggest? TUAW doesn’t find these rumors credible, but if Apple does, it better make sure to provide the marketing push that’s the true draw of the Select program.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

How Apple iBooks needs to compete with Amazon: KDP Select

Amazon has trailblazed; Apple has followed. Apple’s iBooks program currently allows authors to self-publish ebooks. Authors create their own business built around iTunes Connect, just as they do for self-published apps.

So where does Apple have room to improve? What follows is the first of several posts about how iBooks can improve to better compete with Amazon. In this post, I discuss Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program and what Apple can do in response.

KDP Select

When Amazon launched its recent KDP Select program, the independent publish world reacted strongly and negatively. KDP Select is built around exclusive Amazon listings, requiring authors to withdraw their titles from competing vendors like Apple’s iBooks, Smashwords, and Lulu. If you want to participate in Select, you cannot sell your book in any form with any other vendor.

You must enroll books for a minimum of 90 days. During this time, Select allows authors to loan their books for, well, free — and promote their books by giving them away, again, for free.

Sounds bad, right?

As a lure, Amazon has promised a shared pot of $ 500K per month for December 2011 and monthly through 2012, with a total commitment of six million dollars. (The first month is over and Amazon has not yet announced per-borrow reward amounts; most involved are guessing in the range of cents-per-borrow.)

What’s more, it’s a zero sum game: the more authors who play in the arena, the fewer dollars there are for each. Sounds bad, but is it a losing proposition for authors?

Personal experience shows that for niche and underperforming titles, KDP Select is actually a great way to gain market traction.

Target Market

KDP Select with its unlimited free loans and exclusivity requirements is clearly not a game that any well-established book wants to play in. “Talking to Siri: Learning the Language of Apple’s Intelligent Assistant” is an ebook by TUAW editor Steve Sande and myself that has been selling quite well on both Amazon and iBooks. It will soon debut as a print book with Addison Wesley/Que.

We declined to enroll it in KDP Select. We could not see any advantage from withdrawing it from iBooks or offering it as a free loan book.

Instead, we focused on a couple of our highly geeky Kindle Fire-specific titles. These titles cover Email and Third Party Content. In response to Amazon, we withdrew these from iBooks, added them to the KDP Select program and have seen surprisingly good results.

That’s because KDP Select trades off promotion for free copies. I personally used one of my five KDP promotion free days on Christmas for my Kindle Fire Third Party Content ebook. Mind you, this is a small very narrowly-focused ebook that shows readers how to incorporate content outside of the Amazon system on your tablet. In other words, it’s never going to be a general best seller.

That day, my sales numbers jumped from modest into the high triple digits. I made no money of course, as each copy was given away for free, but the book’s momentum carried it forward to very gratifying sales for the week that followed. In exchange for cultivating a cadre of exclusive-to-Amazon titles, their program is helping authors promote for very low fixed costs on Amazon’s part.

Amazon’s Outlay

Amazon has commited to $ 500,000 per month to share among KDP Select authors. This money is apportioned by loan popularity. A hot fiction title climbing the Amazon charts will do a lot better than a niche geek nonfiction title. One loan is one vote. Authors must compete against each other to gain a portion of the half-million pot of dollars.

In addition to this basic fixed-outlay scheme, Amazon has some basic infrastructure costs with regard to loan management and title promotion.

Apple’s Response

To date, Apple has not focused highly on independent authors. This is a shame as more and more self-published works are emerging outside the bounds of traditional publishing.

As I’ll explain in my next post, to publish on iBooks, you’ll need a properly formatted and validated ePub file and a costly registered ISBN (International Standard Book Number). On Amazon, all you need is passion and a Microsoft Word doc file. Add KDP Select to the mix and many potential iBooks titles will never make it to the Apple bookshelf. They’ll be limited exclusively to Amazon.

Amazon’s pre-emptive raid into the independent publisher’s world is cutting off titles, both present and future, from iBooks, and other platforms. If Apple hopes to lure these authors to its store, it’s going to have to react, and react strongly. Something has to draw them away from Amazon and from KDP Select.

Apple needs to provide these authors with a reason to stay away from exclusive Amazon listings, and potentially to list exclusively with Apple.

Right now, it does so by offering better terms than Amazon. With Apple, authors receive a full 70% of list price with no delivery fees, the bane of Amazon sales. On Amazon, delivery fees that are linked to file size can cut a chunk of profit out of any book listed for $ 2.99 or higher. (Items listed at 30% royalty rates, or sold for under $ 2.99 are exempted from delivery fees.)

The problem is that, at least in our experience, Amazon sells better than iBooks, particularly for smaller titles. Items are more discoverable on Amazon and Apple does little to promote independents. If Apple were to provide some way for smaller authors to market more discoverably on the iBooks store, they could grow that indie community.

Apple also needs to provide more and better author peer support. Authors, who regularly congregate on Amazon’s forums, find little equivalent on Apple’s sites.

Apple could also hire iBooks evangelists, in parallel to their World Wide Developer Relations, to teach potential authors about iBook authoring tools, how to use iTunes Connect, and provide book publishing road shows — but more about that in my next post.

Will Apple offer its own exclusive agreements in response to KDP Select, as recent unsourced rumors seem to suggest? TUAW doesn’t find these rumors credible, but if Apple does, it better make sure to provide the marketing push that’s the true draw of the Select program.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

iPhone 4S call audio issues to remain with new iOS 5.1 build

By AppleInsider Staff

Published: 05:25 PM EST (02:25 PM PST)
Some iPhone 4S owners have been experiencing a sporadic yet persistent issue that mutes all audio when a user places a call, and new reports claim that Apple’s upcoming iOS 5 build will leave the problem unsolved.

According to a 109-page thread on the Apple Support Communites forum, the problem cropped up when the iPhone 4S was launched in November 2011 only to remain unfixed when iOS 5.1 was released a month later to deal with battery life complaints, and a look at the new build of an update seeded to developers shows that the audio issues will likely remain unresolved, reports GigaOM.

The issue was first identified when a number of Apple Community forum members began to complain that the audio on their iPhone 4S was intermittently failing when placing calls, forcing them to hang up and dial again. Interestingly, recipients on the other end were unaffected and could reportedly hear the iPhone user who originated the call.

The reports are fairly widespread as the Apple forum thread alone is still very active and now has well over 1,600 replies. Some are reporting a 1 in 10 audio failure rate, while others are seeing multiple back-to-back calls experiencing the problem.

It is unclear what is to blame for the audio failure, and although most calls go through without a problem, some users have reported the issue becoming bad enough that they needed to reboot their device.

Some forum members posit that the iOS software is to blame as the problem is not exclusive to the 4S and has been seen on previous generation iPhone 4 models running iOS 5. Others suggest the issue arises from new hardware in the 4S and its inability to communicate with carriers’ networks.

Affected users were hoping that the issue would be resolved when iOS 5.1 was released, though it seems that the problem remains. The newest build of the iOS, now in the hands of developers, also reportedly doesn’t address the situation.

Although no conclusive solution has been found for “Audiogate,” as some forum members have taken to calling it, workarounds have been found and include using a bluetooth headset, placing the call through Siri and completing a full restore of handset software.

Apple has yet to make any official statement regarding the matter.

AppleInsider

Apple Now Taking Legal Action Against App Store Piracy

Apple Now Taking Legal Action Against App Store Piracy

Apple has begun an attack on App Store piracy. The popular resource for cracked iOS apps known as Apptrackr recently said that Apple has begun sending large amounts of takedown notices, thereby forcing Apptrackr to relocate many of its servers and implement more steps for its users to avoid legal ramifications.

In a note to users of Installous, a Cydia app for downloading and installing pirated apps from the App Store, Apptrackr frontman “dissident” explains Apple’s attempts at crippling the piracy service and how Apptrackr supporters can help keep the resource running.

Captcha checks had to be added when downloading cracked apps so that Apptrackr can avoid the legal implications of hosting direct links to pirated software. The site’s servers have also been moved to different countries. Other piracy hosts have attempted to avoid the courtroom by also moving servers to regions outside of the United States.

The cost of international server hosting has forced Apptrackr to introduce mobile advertisements. The site noted that it can no longer survive on donations alone.  New hosts will also be added soon to help distribute cracked apps to the masses.

It’s unclear as to how intently Apple will continue to legally pursue Apptrackr.

Cult of Mac

Boston schools producing iPhone apps

Readers who went to college in the pre-App Store days will likely remember what it was like to receive a college brochure when they were shopping for schools. It was so exciting to thumb through the pages of a bright and colorful brochure which was printed on thick, glossy paper. In the next several years, these brochures will become obsolete. Gradually, schools will use an iOS app or other digital media to both compete for prospective students and engage current students.

BostInno, an online blog covering the city of Boston, took a look at iOS apps for several Bean Town colleges and universities including MIT, Babson, Berklee College of Music, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern. We won’t spoil the fun and tell you which one BostInno likes best, but we will share their conclusion that many schools have a long way to go with their apps.

Apps offer many features over a static brochure, but many of the schools didn’t leverage this advantage. The schools released apps that didn’t engage users and were described as “boring.” Some even had features, like a bus schedule, which just didn’t work. Hopefully, these apps are early first efforts and will evolve as students begin to use them and offer suggestions for improvement.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Apple Will Event Their Plans To Revolutionize University Classrooms Later This Month [Rumor]

Apple Will Event Their Plans To Revolutionize University Classrooms Later This Month [Rumor]

You know that media event Apple plans on throwing later this month in New York City, featuring Senior VP Eddy Cue? Well, more details have leaked out, and it appears like we were right: Apple’s preparing to revolutionize textbooks.

Over at his blog, Clayton Morris reports:

Here is what I know from sources involved:

• This event will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education
• I learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed.
• The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbook and publishing.
• This initiative has been in the making for years.
• The announcement will be small in size but large in scope: a big announcement in a demure space.
• I expect at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education.
• Steve Jobs was intinimately involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography.
This will not be a hardware-related announcement.

The hat tip Isaacson gave in his biography was that Steve Jobs wants to hire great textbook writers to create original digital textbooks, and make them an exclusive feature of the iPad. If this is indeed what Apple has planned, it looks like they plan on making a major push to make the iPad ubiquitous in higher education classrooms. Very exciting.

[via Macrumors]

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is news editor here at Cult of Mac, and has also written about a lot of things for a lot of different places, including Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker, AMC, Geek and the Consumerist. He lives in Cambridge with his charming inamorata and a tiny budgerigar punningly christened after Nabokov’s most famous pervert. You can follow him here on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , , , , |

Cult of Mac

Daily Update for January 3, 2012

It’s the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You’ll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what’s happening in the Apple world.

You can listen to today’s Apple stories by clicking the inline player (requires Flash) or the non-Flash link below. To subscribe to the podcast for daily listening through iTunes, click here.

No Flash? Click here to listen.



TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog