Apple released iOS 4.3.5 today, purportedly to fix a potential security hole in the just released iOS 4.3.4. Called the man-in-the-middle bug by security site, threatpost, the exploit might have allowed attackers to intercept SSL information – that’s the system for encrypting users’ confidential and identifying information.
“Description: A certificate chain validation issue existed in the handling of X.509 certificates. An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS. Other attacks involving X.509 certificate validation may also be possible. This issue is addressed through improved validation of X.509 certificate chains.”
Notice the wording, “privileged network position.” This means that any potential hacker would need to already be in a position to interact with network traffic and data, further narrowing the potential for actual attack. Still, it’s nice to see Apple responding to such discoveries as they come to light, and that they take the security of our devices seriously, even this close to the planned release of iOS 5.
Recently, I was made aware of an app called AppSwitch, which would purportedly let you view advanced details like processes, memory and device information. Based on the people who were talking about it, my initial reaction was that this was an app only for jailbroken devices, and was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to check it out as my phone is currently not jailbroken. Then, I looked into it a bit more, and found out that this was actually an app released on the App Store. Intrigued by the premise and concerned that this might only be available while Apple doens’t realize what they have seemingly inaverdently approved, like the HandyLight app that secretly had tethering, I jumped on this right away. However, what I found was interesting: this may actually be a legitimate app consciously approved by Apple.
AppSwitch comes with several features accessible from the app’s tab bar at the bottom of the screen. Processes lets you view which processes are currently running on your device, as well as some basic information on them, including which apps are currently using multitasking on your device for those with iOS4 multitasking devices. From this menu, you cannot kill any of these processes, but you can switch to supported apps from this menu if they have a URL scheme registered with the device. As well, some apps that support advanced commands with their URL scheme and are recognized by AppSwitch can be used to switch to certain points in the app, like Twitter for iPhone allowing you to open up directly to mentions or to populate a tweet in the tweet field when you open up the app. The System tab lets you see your device model, OS, and UDID; view your IP and MAC addresses, including for your cellular connection; view your load averarge and uptime; and finally, view your device’s free storage space out of its current total. Developers and journalists will appreciate that you can easily send all this info in an email, or just copy their MAC address and UDID to the clipboard.
The Memory tab lets you view the portions of your RAM that are currently Wired, Active, Inactive, and Free, but without being able to alter these values in any way. Finally, the Console tab lets you see what processes are doing and changing on your system, and search the list for what specific processes are doing. This information is largely incomprehensible to end users, and is view-only. Finally, the Settings tab lets you view the app’s manual, change settings, and install app packs that will include icons and specific information for processes, including more commands for switching to specific elements of apps.
While this feels off the bat like this is a case of the App Store submission crew falling asleep on the job, there are reasons to believe that this app actually was consciously approved for release by Apple. Everything the app does is non-destructive; while you have the ability to view all kinds of processes and other information about running apps, and can do things like switch to apps with specific parameters, you can’t actually kill those apps or processes, or damage your device in anyway. The app switching only uses an app’s URL registration protocols to switch, much like how Boxcar works to open up other apps when you get a notification. Information like MAC addresses, IP addresses, and device UDIDs are all information that is easily viewable by the user in other methods, it’s just easily viewed on one screen or copied to the clipboard in this app.
Memory usage information has been seen in other apps currently on the App Store, and it too is non-destructive, it just lets you view the RAM information. The Console of process information, while supremely in-depth and allowing you to see what specifically your device is doing in a way few if any other apps have let you view, is also non-destructive; you can’t start or stop any new processes from here, you can just see what’s going on in specific detail. Other apps like the memory freeing apps were destructive in the way that they killed processes, and that is why they were rejected or eventually pulled by Apple.
Given that AppSwitch does not seem to violate any rules, and just provides an in-depth view at your device and what it’s doing, AppSwitch appears to be in the clear with Apple, and available on the App Store for $0.99…but perhaps only while it lasts.
If you find yourself running a Google search on your iPhone or iPad and you find the results popping up as you type, don’t be alarmed, just be excited you’re a part of the advancement of technology. Google has confirmed that they have begun rolling out Google Instant across mobile devices, and some iOS users are getting their first taste of truly instantaneous search results.
For those unfamiliar with Google Instant, it displays instant search results as you type based on popularity, current trends and other analytics, theoretically saving time as you try and find what you’re looking for. The service works extremely well if you’re searching for popular topics or hot news items, but can be a bit less helpful if you’re looking up more obscure information. Still, for folks who need info right now it will likely be a helpful addition.
The service, which is currently in beta, can be turned on simply by tapping the link underneath the search bar on the Google homepage. Google Instant should be available to anyone in the US running iOS 4, and the company is saying that if you don’t see the option to use it then a quick page refresh should do the trick. I just checked on my iPod Touch to confirm the service is up and working, and at least here on the East Coast things seem to be hunky dory.
Google Instant is a lovely little time-saver but there are definitely those out there annoyed by the service. After all, if you type in “Lady” expecting to find Macbeth but instead get Gaga it can be grounds for irritation. Instant also isn’t advised for those who get easily distracted, as the images that pop up in the above example may lead you to forget all about your literature paper and instead spend hours wondering how a human being fits into such dresses, let alone performs in them.
Apple strikes with a roundhouse kick the gut! But wait, Google fights right back with an eye gouge and a slap to the face! Apple is stunned but isn’t going to give up that easily. What a fight, what a battle; who is going to win, folks? This is the picture much of the media has painted for us, isn’t it? That Google and Apple have locked horns and are doomed to a winless war for all eternity. That’s not really the case though. Truth is, the war is fought mainly with the media and loyal fans who follow the gossip like it’s a WWE match. Yes, the two companies compete with each other on a couple of levels, but at the same time they work incredibly well and profitably together. Based on some recent news, I believe the two have secretly teamed up again in an effort to bring FaceTime to the mainstream for good.
Ok, here’s what we know:
1) Apple is hosting an event on Wednesday and at the very least they’re probably going to announce a new iPod touch with a front facing camera.
2) iOS 4.1 beta has been out for several weeks and contains an option to make FaceTime calls via e-mail address.
3) Apple from the start has said it plans to make FaceTime an open industry standard, potentially allowing communication with other devices.
4) Google just announced last week the ability to use their Gchat feature for video chats. Gchat, if you’re not familiar with it, runs directly through Gmail and uses other user’s Gmail address to authorize chats.
When you combine the first three together along with the timing of Google’s announcement, it seems just too convent to be just a coincidence. I certainly could be wrong but to me the picture is pretty clear, Apple and Google are going to walk us right into the future and by this time next year, iPhone users and Andriod users will be FaceTiming each other everywhere. Finally the world will be at peace and harmony.
If you’re looking to buy a new BMW or a Mini, take note. There’s an iOS 4 feature you’ve probably never heard of that you’re going to love.
Car manufacturer BMW has announced that it will be supporting iPod Out in iOS 4. What’s that? You say. Hidden among the many exciting features in Apple’s latest mobile operating system, the relatively obscure iPod Out is a way for iPhone and iPod models to show the iPod interface on a connected display, in this situation, the dashboard of a car.
While many docking stations and other accessories offer this facility already, this is an Apple-endorsed way of showing and controlling the classic iPod screen and album artwork on an external device and should translate very nicely to in-car entertainment. In the case of BMW, the in-built “infotainment” systems will allow control and playback of a connected device through the car’s existing controls and will even allow access to and creation of Genius and custom playlists.
BMW said of its iPod Out support “Future vehicles equipped with this technology will be able to adapt more quickly to the software lifecycles of iPod touch and iPhone”, basically taking the pressure off them to remain compatible with Apple’s mobile devices as they are updated.
BMW refers to “future” vehicles in its press release so existing owners may miss out on this upgrade, however iPod and iPhone owners in the market for a new car should certainly bear a BMW or Mini in mind when on the forecourt.
While Pandora got the top billing when Apple demoed iOS 4 multitasking, other music services are also updating their apps to support background play.
Multitasking in iOS 4 allows compatible apps to run in the background while another app runs in the foreground. Apps in the background can continue to perform tasks such as play music streams.
Slacker Inc has announced that its personal radio application, Slacker Radio, has been updated to support multitasking and is available now for free on the App Store. The currently Europe-only Spotify is also headed for background-centric adjustment with the company announcing on its blog that an update has been submitted to Apple. The blog post goes on to suggest that a “surprise” will also be included in the update to thank users for their patience.
As well as music streaming, GPS navigation apps and social networking clients are also popular background enabled apps. Expect to see many more updates of this type in the coming days.
Apple today released iOS 4.0, the latest version of the operating system for iPod Touches and iPhones. iOS 4 for iPads is expected later this year. Take a look below for the features of the new operating system and how to get it now.
Major New Features
iOS 4 is packed with over 100 new features — here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect after you install iOS 4.
Multitasking allows apps, in certain instances, to keep running in the background while you switch to other applications. Some of the biggest expected uses of multitasking include playing Pandora in the background while doing other things, uploading large images to web services, VOIP calls, and many things no one has even thought of yet. In addition, for all apps that allow it, quick-switching is supported allowing you to suspend an app right where you were and return to it nearly instantly, right where you left off.
While Apple resisted multitasking for a long time, we’ve seen on other platforms how it can really drain the battery and reduce overall system performance. Apple has created a simplified and restricted multitasking system that allows the most common tasks to be done in a way that impacts the overall device usage at a minimum.
In addition, Apple have created a few new forms of notifications that can be sent from local programs and not need the support of a server. Location notifications can pop-up a notification when you are near a certain location and local notifications allow organization apps to remind you of tasks and appointments anytime.
App Organization Folders allow you to group applications in any way that you wish. You create a folder by dragging one app onto another. From there you can drag other apps to the folder to include them. A folder is opened by tapping it’s icon to reveal the apps icons of the what is included. Folders will allow you to greatly increase the number of applications you can manage on your iPhone — up to 2160 from the current 180 under iOS 3.x.
Email changes include a unified inbox allowing you to combine all of your inboxes into a single inbox. You can still view the inboxes individually if you wish, a single inbox is an optional view of your email.
Digital Zoom has been added to the camera app. But caution, digitally zoomed images will not be as sharp as full range images.
Notes Syncing has been enhanced to allow you to sync your notes over the air.
Photos enhanced to include faces and places information from iPhoto.
Playlists can now be created on the device in the iPod application.
Wallpaper changes allow you to change your home screen wallpaper. We’ve always been able to change the wallpaper on the lock screen, but now you can choose the same of a different wallpaper for your home screen. A purely cosmetic new feature, but one that a lot of people seem to want.
For an amazingly detailed rundown of what you will find in iOS 4, check out the write up on TIPB by Rene Ritchie.
What about the iPad?
iOS4 isn’t currently available for the iPad. Apple has stated that it will be available later this year for the iPad but have made absolutely no indication of when we will see it or what features we will see. We’ll keep you posted.
How to Download
iOS4 is a free update for all iPod Touch and iPhones except the first generation iPod Touch and original iPhone. While some features, like multitasking, aren’t supported on older models, all versions will benefit from this upgrade. And did I mention it’s free?
To download and install the update for your device, connect it to your computer and fire up iTunes. The first thing you should do is complete a full sync to make sure that there is a good backup on your computer so that the restore process goes easy.
Once that is done, click the Check for Update button and follow the prompts. It will take a while to complete, so make sure you have time to let the process finish. You can not interrupt it and continue later.
Next, enjoy the amazing new features! Let us know in the comments what new features you think you will end up using the most.