Tag: iOS

UK MPs to get free iPads

new-ipadMembers of Parliament are to be given iPad Air 2s worth around £500 apiece after the general election in May.

The Times reports that parliament’s administrative body, the House of Commons Commission, thinks that the 650 members having an Apple device “will save money”.

The total bill of £1 million will be paid for by taxpayers.

MPs without ministerial jobs get paid £67,000 a year.

In addition to the iPads, MPs will also get spanking new laptops although it’s not clear which lucky vendor will get the order.

The iPad Air 2s come with 16GB of memory, wi-fi and Cellular iPad Air 2.

But an opposition cabinet officer, Chi Onwurah, said MPs should not use Apple iOS. Most of his constituents can’t afford the luxury of an Apple iPad, he said.


Devices fail in 2015

A not so mobile X86 PCThe outlook for PCs looks pretty grim in 2015, according to data released by Gartner.

The market research outfit said that PCs and ultra mobiles will deliver revenues of $226 billion this year, but that will be a 7.2 percent decline.

You have to take the current strength of the US dollar into account, Gartner warned, but even after that, the global market will show a 3.1 percent drop during the year.

Gartner forecasts that so called traditional PCs – that includes desktops and notebooks – will fall from 252,881,000 units this year, to 236,341,000 units in 2017.

The firm said that PC vendors are raising their prices to stay profitable but this is having a Catch 22 effect because it’s forcing customers to keep their purses tightly closed. Home users are also not expected to lash out on new devices.

Mobile phones will grow by 3.5 percent during this year and Gartner believes that rather than buy PCs, people will buy smartphones instead. Tablet sales will suffer because of that.

Roberta Cozza, a research director at Gartner, said: “Following rapid growth, the current mature consumer installed base for tablets is comparable to that of notebooks. Not only is the tablet segment nearing saturation in mature markets, but the influx of hybrids and fabulist will compete directly with tablets in emerging markets.”

She seems to think that despite Apple’s high prices, many users of high end Android devices will move to iOS.

Ericsson sues Apple

EricssonSwedish company Ericsson has taken Apple to court and also complained to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), it said today.

Ericsson claims that Apple refused its offer to have a court decide fair licensing terms that would be binding on both companies. And because of that, it has filed a complaint with the ITC seeking to exclude its products for infringing patents directly linked to 2G and 4G LTE standards.

It filed a second complaint with a Eastern district Court in Texas asking for damages and injunctions for “infringement of patents that are critical to many other aspects of Apple’s devices”.

This second instance related to 41 patents which Ericsson claims covers not only 2G and 4G/LTE standards, but other patents related to semiconductors, user interface software, location services and application and the iOS operating system.

Ericsson claims that by refusing its reasonable licensing offer used in both Apple smartphones and tablets, “Apple harms the entire market”.

Apple’s global licence agreement for Ericsson mobile technology apparently expired last month.

Windows 10 is delayed again

Microsoft campusPeople eager to throw off the shackles of Windows 8.x look like they’ll have some time to wait before they’re free at last.

According to PC Advisor, a “consumer preview2 will be released in January so you’ll be able to see what you’re missing for quite a long time.  Windows 10 isn’t now expected until the second half of next year.

Reuters, quoting Microsoft’s chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, said the launch was likely to be the early Autumn.

Reports suggest that Windows 10 may well be free of charge to existing Windows 8.x users.  Microsoft isn’t giving any details of prices yet and so no one is clear what the upgrade paths are likely to be.

The operating system is likely to look more like Windows 7 than Windows 8.x – the latter was Microsoft’s ill fated attempt to resemble other tablet operating systems like iOS and Android.

Even Microsoft insiders wondered what the company was doing with such a hybrid.

Microsoft’s decision to skip the number nine and jump straight to Windows 10 seems to be some kind of weird marketing move – as usual, it is describing the future OS as the “best OS yet”.

Masque attack hits Apple iOS devices

blue-appleA security firm warned that a vulnerability in Apple’s operating system means apps can be replaced by maleficent apps.

FireEye warned yesterday that all apps could be replaced except iOS pre-installed applications.

The company has verified the vulnerability in various recensions of iOS and told Apple the problem existed as long ago as July 26.  It dubbed the vulnerability Masque Attacks and warned that apps such as banking and email apps can be hacked.

Despite Apple was informed months ago, no action seems to have been taken, which led FireEye to issue an urgent advice notice.

Users can protect themselves by not installing apps from third parties, other than Apple’s App Store.  It also warns people not to install apps from pop up.

And if iOS alerts you with the phrase “untrusted app developer”, don’t trust the app.

There’s more information at the FireEye page, here.

Microsoft pushes Office for iPad

ipad3In either a sign of desperation or a sign of largesse, Microsoft said today it will let people using the Apple Pad make and edit documents for free instead of paying through the nose.

Microsoft wants its software to be pervasive across every gadget and gizmo as the world has opened up to applications that don’t need an expensive PC or a pricey Windows operating system to work.

Microsoft already started to offer Office for the iPad and is understood to have attracted some 10s of millions to the proposition.

And in a further move it wants Apple users on its side, it said it will release Powerpoint, Excel and Word apps not only for the iPhone but for the Android operating system later this year too.

Apps for mobile devices cost only pounds rather than hundreds of pounds but it’s not entirely clear what CEO Satya Nadella’s motives are in spreading the Word around.

Android faces smartwatch challenge

fobwatchNo one is entirely sure how succcessful smartwaches can be and the jury is still out on the matter.

But market research company ABI Research believes that after Apple releases its smartwatch in 2015, Android will face a real challenge.

ABI predicts that Android’s market share for smartwatches will drop below 50 percent, while iOS is likely to take 50 percent of the market.

The market for such devices is still quite small – Thomas McCourtie, an analyst at ABI said that by the end of this year there will be six million Android wearable devices shipped and that will rise to 15 million in 2015.

applepieHe said: “Judging by the previous sales performance of newly released Apple products, we anticipate a high number of sales of the Apple watch upon its initial release. The high number of loyal and affluent multiple Apple device owners alone will drive significant number of sales.”

This pie chart shows what he believes will be the market share in the wearable market next year.

Chinese snoop on iPhone protesters

apple fanboysThe Chinese government appears to be cracking down on Hong Kong protesters who use an iPhone or iPad.

Cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a computer virus that spies on Apple Inc’s iOS operating system for the iPhone and iPad, and they believe it is targeting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Dubbed Xsser, the software can steal text messages, photos, call logs, passwords and other data from Apple gear.

Researchers with Lacoon Mobile Security uncovered the spyware while investigating similar malware for Google Android operating system last week that also targeted Hong Kong protesters.

Lacoon Chief Executive Michael Shaulov said that Xsser is the most sophisticated malware used to date in any known cyberattack on iOS users.

It is not clear what the Chinese government hopes to learn from an Apple fanboy’s account, there is just so much you can learn from a complete Coldplay collection and an undeletable U2 album.

It is unclear how iOS devices get infected with Xsser, which is not disguised as an app particularly as Apple claims that its software is super secure.

The code used to control that server is written in Chinese. The high quality of the campaign and the fact it is being used to target protesters suggests that it is coming from a sophisticated attacker in China.

“It is the first time in history that you actually see an operationalized iOS Trojan that is attributed to some kind of Chinese entity,” Shaulov said.

Lacoon said on its blog that it is possible the attackers might have deployed the Trojan in other places, in addition to spying on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“It can cross borders easily, and is possibly being operated by a Chinese-speaking entity to spy on individuals, foreign companies, or even entire governments,” they said in their bog.


Apple faces the music on bendy, faulty iPhone 6

bendFruity cargo cult Apple has broken its silence on complaints about bending iPhones, hours after withdrawing a glitch-ridden software update.

Like most of Apple’s statements in the middle of a crisis, the outfit insisted that the problem of bending iPhones was extremely rare.

In the first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.

That might be true but “bendgate” is all over the Internet and online forums.  The phones do bend when placed in back pockets or while wearing skinny jeans.

Jobs’ Mob insists that its iPhones feature stainless steel and titanium inserts to reinforce high-stress locations and use the strongest glass in the smartphone industry. However structural engineers say that the phone is aluminium and thin so of course it has to bend.

But the bendy phone issue coincided with a faulty update to its latest operating system after some users of its new phones complained of call service disruptions. Users of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also complained about the inbility to use the fingerprint-reading Touch ID after updating to iOS 8.0.1.

Muller did at least admit that this problem was a cock up.

Apple said on its website it was working on an iOS update to fix the problem, and will release it in the next few days.

As we reported, Apple said on Monday it had shipped 10 million units of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. If they are all returned because they bend, then Apple could lose a fortune.

Meanwhile Apple is getting a ribbing from rivals. Samsung ran an advert which showcased a bending phone against its own product, while BlackBerry CEO John Chen said: “I would challenge you guys to bend our Passport.”

Even Nestle Kit-Kat chocolate wafer brand tweeted “We don’t bend, we break”,


Apple botches iOS8 update

CD153Not satisfied with releasing an expensive phone which bends if you stick it in your pocket, Apple has botched an update to its brand new iOS 8 operating system.

TheTame Apple Press praised Apple for releasing an “update” to the iOS 8 platform so early, but this was itself a cover to the fact that the iOS 8 was really broken, it was also packed with U2 which was too smug to be deleted.

However, the update itself was flawed within an hour-and-a-half of it going live, Apple is said to have pulled it. It turned out that the software geniuses at Apple created an update which inserted more problems.

How serious were the bugs, well Twitter is full of people who can’t get a signal following the update, with their iPhones stuck in searching for service mode, or getting the “No signal” message.

Others are seeing problems with the Touch ID fingerprint reader after applying the 8.0.1 update. The problem appears to be confined to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

An Apple spokesperson said “We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”

An unofficial fix for this problem involves rolling back to iOS 8.0.  Our fix is to flog your iPhone on eBay before it is widely condemned as a lemon and buy a phone which does not bend for half the price and then take yourself on holiday somewhere nice with the left over money.


BlackBerry buys a UK company

blackberry-juicerMobile manufacturer BlackBerry said it has bought a UK company Movitu. Financial details of the transaction weren’t revealed.

Movitu makes so called virtual identities for mobile operators that lets many numbers to be active on a single device.

BlackBerry said this help device management for bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate environments.

The Movitu Virtual SIM platform lets business numbers and personal numbers be used on the same device with separate billing for voice, for data and for messaging.

The advantage is that employees can use the same phone for both company business and their own personal use.

The Virtual SIM capabilities will be offered by BlackBerry through mobile operators for all main smartphone operating systems, including Android, iOS and Windows.

Microsoft intros MSN beta

Microsoft campusSoftware giant Microsoft said it has introduced a beta version of its new MSN.

The company said it’s designed for a world where the cloud and mobile are the name of the game.  It has content from major worldwide media and comes with productivity tools.

The software is available on the web right now and will soon be available for Windows, Apple iOS and Android too.

Microsoft claims MSN’s existing audience is 425 million people.

Steve Lynas, the MS suit in charge of MSN, waxed lyrical about the thing. “Microsoft’s DNA is about empowerment,” he said weirdly.  “The new MSN brings together content from over 1,000 publishers with experiences that help people live fuller lives.  We’ve completely reimagined the experience to embrace this opportunity.”

Media mates include the Guardian, the Independent, Sky News and the Telegraph.  It has struck similar deals in other countries across the world.

It’s got reviews of over 1.5 million bottles of wine, and 300,000 recipes.

You can have a dekko at Microsoft’s latest rock star by clicking here.

Gmail a doddle to hack

black holeA hole in Android, Windows, and iOS makes Gmail a doddle to hack to steal personal information.

Researchers at the California Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the University of Michigan have identified a weakness they believe to exist across Android, Windows, and iOS operating systems that could allow malicious apps to obtain personal information.

So far the attack has been tested only on an Android phone, but it is believed that the method could be used across all three operating systems because all three can access a mobile device’s shared memory.

Zhiyun Qian, an associate professor at UC Riverside aid that one app can in fact significantly impact another and result in harmful consequences for the user.”

First, a user must download an app that appears benign, such as a wallpaper, but actually contains malicious code. Once installed, the researchers can use it to access the shared memory statistics of any process, which does not require any special privileges.

The researchers monitored changes in this shared memory and can correlate see if someone is logging into Gmail, H&R Block, or taking a picture of a cheque to deposit it online via Chase Bank. They managed to hack with a success rate of 82 to 92 percent. Using a few other side channels, the team was able to accurately track what a user was doing in real-time.

It is not that easy. The attack needs to take place at the exact moment that the user is performing the action. Second, the attack needs to be conducted in such a way that the user is unaware of it.

Of the seven apps tested, Amazon was the hardest to crack, with a 48 percent success rate. This is because the app allows one activity to transition to another activity, making it harder to guess what the user will do next.

The team will present its paper, “Peeking into Your App without Actually Seeing It: UI State Inference and Novel Android Attacks” (PDF), at the USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego on August 23. You can watch some short videos of the attacks in action below.

Tab market booms in MEA

tablet-womanWhile Western Europe and the USA are showing signs of saturation for tablet sales, it looks like some regions are continuing to boom.

A report from IDC said that PC tablets grew 111 percent year on year in the last quarter of 2013 in the Middle East and African (MEA) markets.

Shipments amounted to 3.45 million units and both the home segment and the corporate segment showed steady growth. The educational market also saw growth.

Huawei won a deal to supply around 90,000 units in South Africa in the education sector.

Android wins the game – 2.8 million units shipped up 16 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012.  iOS fell and Windows OS lost share in Q4 2013.

Top vendor was Samsung, followed by Apple, Lenovo, Asus and Huawei.

The PC market will fall further in 2014, while tablets will grow significantly, IDC said.

Tablet growth slows

ipad3Despite phenomenal growth in sales during 2013, it seems that the tablet market will slow down during this year.

That’s according to market research company IDC that said the total tablet market – including stand alone units and 2-in-1 devices – will grow by 19.4 percent this year, down from 51.6 percent in 2013.

There is slowing growth at the consumer end of the market, and average selling prices (ASPs) have fallen rapidly in the tablet market.

Prices in 2013 dropped by 14.6 percent but IDC said price erosion “has started to slowly bottom out”, meaning ASPs will only fall by 3.6 percent this year.

Tom Mainelli, who runs devices and displays at IDC, said the white box tablet market will slow this year.  In mature markets, people are sticking with their current tablets and few feel the need to upgrade them, he said.

But there’s always a silver lining to every cloud. He said that commercial shipments are set to go up and while tablet growth has largely been confined to verticals like education, in the future tablets will penetrate SMEs globally.  And that will give a boost to Microsoft Windows.

Jitesh Ubrani, a research colleague of Mainelli, thinks that Android and iOS will stay as the dominant forces although Windows could grab more than a quarter of the market in the future.