iPhone Call Logs Easy Pickings on iCloud, Says Russian Security Firm

icloud-privacyRussian digital forensics firm ElcomSoft on Thursday reported that Apple automatically uploads iPhone call logs to iCloud remote servers, and that users have no official way to disable this feature other than to completely switch off the iCloud drive.

The data uploaded could include a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, as well as phone numbers, dates and times, and duration, the firm said.

Apple retains the cloud-based data for up to four months, according to ElcomSoft’s report. It includes calendars, wallet, books, notes and other data synced with iCloud. Even photos may be retained remotely longer than Apple has indicated.

Apple currently relies on a two-factor authentication system that requires an iCloud token along with an Apple ID and password, but ElcomSoft’s new Phone Breaker 6.20 software can allow law enforcement to bypass those checks.

For its part, Apple has defended the fact that the data is backed up on the cloud.

“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by company rep Ryan James.

“Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ data,” the spokesperson added. “That’s why we give our customers the ability to keep their data private. Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.”

Privacy or Security?

ElcomSoft made its announcement not so much to call attention to the potential weaknesses in Apple’s data storage practices, as to address how easily its own software can obtain the information. It is billed as a tool for law enforcement, but it’s not too hard to imagine that hackers could utilize similar tools for nefarious purposes.

“It is very concerning, as this can’t be something that is a surprise to Apple; it is baked into their design for the product and services,” said Jim Purtilo, associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland.

“Only Apple can speak to its motive for orchestrating this behavior, but this is a way to project an image of security to consumers,” he told TechNewsWorld.

These iPhone users may believe their data are encrypted and secure, “which is mostly true, even if only on their actual device, while [Apple] is still working accommodatingly with the feds, who get tremendous value from the traffic analysis made possible by these saved data,” Purtilo added.

Standard Practices

The fact that Apple is being called out this week is somewhat notable in its own right.

“Apple doesn’t seem to be walking its talk in the sense of actually doing what it publicly claims to be doing,” noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

The other part of this is in the lack of transparency customers have into the process, and the fact that there is no easy way to opt out, he told TechNewsWorld.

“If you use iCloud, you’re in whether you want to be or not,” King added.

However, “as several reports on Apple’s situation mention, the company isn’t alone in syncing or saving call data,” King explained, adding that it is standard practice for U.S. carriers to retain call data for up to 12 months.

“Where Apple could run into problems is in foreign markets that restrict retention of caller data,” he said. “The company also risks some egg on its face if ElcomSoft’s contention that more data is collected and that some is retained for longer than Apple says is the case.”

Who Guards the Guards?

The fact that this information is being uploaded to the iCloud is noteworthy, given the showdown that Apple had with the FBI over its ability to obtain information from an iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who carried out last December’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino.

Farook’s phone was protected cryptographically. Apple challenged more than 11 orders to assist in providing access to the phone, issued by the United States district courts under the All Writs Act of 1789.

The question is whether the FBI showdown was necessary, based on ElcomSoft’s findings. Much of the data may have been on the iCloud and hence accessible.

“If most users rely on iCloud services, then police largely don’t need the actual device in order to investigate someone; the data have already been disclosed for far more convenient access by whoever asks,” explained Purtilo.

“Consumers should be so lucky that only the police are accessing their data; in this news, we more or less need to presume other less upstanding groups have been accessing the data too,” he added.

For the vast majority of users, this may be a nonissue, noted Pund-IT’s King.

“Most criminals and ne’er-do-wells probably know enough not to use their personal phones for conducting illegal business,” he suggested.

“How threatening the practice may be is hard to say, but with Apple actively trying to pitch its products for enterprise applications and use cases, companies considering deploying iPhones and iPads may want to question how their employees’ call data is being collected and secured,” King added. “Personal communication is the lifeblood of many businesses, to the point that any threat of injury and hemorrhage should be avoided.

Apple iPhone to be manufactured in India? The company is reportedly in talks with Foxconn

If owning a brand new iPhone has always been your dream – and one that couldn’t be fulfilled thanks to its exorbitant price tag – this bit of information is bound to pique your interest. Once again, it is being reported that Apple is in talks with its primary manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to explore the idea of making iPhones in India.

Apple-iPhone-6s-design

Sources talking to The Economic Times said, “There’s definitely interest. When Tim Cook was here, the government raised the issue of making in India. It is after that that Apple started thinking of doing something in India which is long term.” During Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first visit to India in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked if Apple – which is launching the iPhone 7 today – has plans to make iPhones in India and Cook was reluctant to commit with an answer.

 

This move could indicate that the iPhone will be cheaper in India. However, don’t get your hopes too high just yet because even if the plan actually materialises, it could take Foxconn at least a couple of years to actually start making the phones in India. The first step in this process would actually be assembling the phones. Having said that, Apple hasn’t really discussed any timelines yet.

As is routine with such stories, The Economic Times contacted both Foxconn and Apple for a comment. And, as is common with tech companies, both were tight-lipped about this news and refused to divulge any information. In fact, a Foxconn spokesperson said, “Foxconn follows a strict company policy of not commenting on any matters related to current or potential customers, or any of their products.

To dive a little deeper into the matter, it should be noted that the Maharashtra government has been pro-active in persuading Foxconn to open up its phone manufacturing plants in India. In conjunction, Foxconn rented out a 2 lakh square feet space in Navi Mumbai in July this year. It was reported during that time that the manufacturer will start making phones from August.

Furthermore, actually making iPhones in India would mean that Apple would receive some tax benefits. “Tax benefit will remain one of the key drivers for setting up new base in India,” said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Apple will implement App Store improvements on Sept. 7

Apple on Thursday announced to its developer community some changes to make the App Store experience better for customers. Starting on September 7, Apple is instituting two suggestions made by its developer community.

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Quality apps

First, Apple will perform a bit of quality control of the apps already in the App Store. An app will be removed from the App Store if the company deems it “problematic” and “abandoned” after an evaluation process and contacting the developer, who has 30 days to update the app to keep it in the App Store.

Apple will remove apps that crash when launching, though the company’s documentationdoesn’t state what devices are being used to test this.

Users who have an app that has been removed from the App Store can still use the app and make in-app purchases. It just won’t be available for new users to buy.

Shorter app names

Starting on Sept. 7, app names will be limited to 50 characters. This is to stop the practice of creating long app names in order to influence search results. According to Apple, “These long names are not fully displayed on the App Store and provide no user value.” Apple actually recommends that app names be 23 characters so the name is seen properly on each iOS device.

Why this matters: Apple likes to boast that its App Store has over 2 million apps. At first, that sounds great; who doesn’t want a wide selection of products when you’re shopping? On the other hand, when is a wide selection too wide? Perhaps at 2 million? For customers browsing the App Store, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the selection, and with so many apps, it can be difficult to make a decision. Hopefully, these changes will make it easier to find the app you need.

iPhone 6c Tipped to Sport Metal Build, Launch in January

The 4-inch iPhone 6c smartphone that has been in rumours since March this year is now being said to launch in January next year and go on sale in February. The handset will supposedly ditch the plastic build sported by its predecessor iPhone 5c, and will shift to metal this time. However, it will still arrive in various colour options like the iPhone 5c.

According to some “Foxconn insiders”, the rumoured iPhone 6c will see the light of the day in January, which seems unlikely given the pattern of iPhone launches Apple has been following since years. This also contradicts few reports from last month claiming the iPhone 6c will be released to consumers in mid-2016. Tech Web, a Chinese website reported the news, via GforGames.

According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an accurate track record for Apple leaks, the iPhone 6c will feature a 4-inch display and is expected to enter mass production in the first half of 2016.

From the past leaks and rumours, the iPhone 6c will sport the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that was missing from iPhone 5c. Users can also expect an A9 SoC, improved FaceTime HD camera with f/2.2 aperture, and support for 802.11ac Wi-FI and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless standards. However, the new purported iPhone handset won’t come with 3D Touch display, the flagship feature in Apple’s latest generation of iPhone models – iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. It is supposed to fall under the company’s ‘budget’ smartphone range.

OnePlus Sandstone Case Launched for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has rather cheekily introduced a Sandstone smartphone cover case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s handsets.

The company in a blog post explained the reason for the launch, citing the “holiday season” where “sharing is caring”. OnePlus said with the new Sandstone case, even iPhone users can experience the “uniqueness of this texture”. The cover is available from the Oneplus.net website priced at $19.99 (roughly Rs. 1,300). It will be launched in India in the second half of December at Rs. 1,199, via Amazon India.

“It’s not just about a case. For us and for many of you, Sandstone represents something bigger. Maybe you know someone who just went out and bought the latest iPhone. Maybe you were this close to getting them to see your side of things. This is your chance to leave your exasperation at the door and just show them what they’re missing,” the post added.

The company said the Sandstone case for iPhone models is only available in limited quantities for the holiday season, and at the time of writing, it was already “out of stock”. The Sandstone case is made of the same rough Sandstone PET material found on the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 Sandstone Black variants. OnePlus said the polycarbonate construction offers protection and better grip for the slim and slippery iPhone models.

Notably, the OnePlus Sandstone completely covers the Apple company logo on the rear panel of the smartphone and instead sports an OnePlus logo, which most iPhone users may not like to flaunt. The case does not cover the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s from all sides. It leaves the bottom speaker grille and port, power button at right, volume+mute buttons on the left and the top bezel exposed. It has a rear camera cut-out that keeps the iPhone camera bump protected.

The OnePlus Sandstone Case measures 138.7×70.2×10.5mm and weighs 20 grams. It also comes with aOnePlus X invite in the package. However, it is not a regular invite. The company says, “It could be a limited edition Ceramic invite, or maybe even a free device.”

 

OnePlus on Tuesday made its first leather case for the OnePlus 2 smartphone available in India priced at Rs. 7,499. The Hard Graft Wild Phone Case for OnePlus 2 is designed by Hard Graft with Tuscan leather. It packs two pockets tucked inside where one could be used for storing up to four cards.

iPhone 7S Could Come With An OLED Display

iPhone 7S

We are not expecting next years iPhone 7 to come with a new OLED display although it looks like the 2017 iPhone 7S may feature one.

Apple are apparently in talks with a number of display makers about them producing an OLED display for a future iPhone model, which will probably be the iPhone 7S.

The news comes in a report from Digitimes which have said that Appleis currently in talks with LG Display and Japan Display about producing these new displays.

Apple has outlined its requirements in terms of expected specifications for the displays and supply needed to meet iPhone shipments, which are expected to continue surpassing the 200 million mark a year over the next few years, the report added.

Currently there are three main panel makers looking to compete for orders from Apple: LG Display, Japan Display (JDI) and JOLED. The report indicated that panel makers in Japan are highly concerned over Apple’s reported decision since they mainly focus on LCD production and development, with LCDs accounting for roughly 80% of JDI’s total business.

Apple’s iPad Pro Now Available From Sprint

Apple IPad Pro

US mobile carrier Sprint is now offering Apple’s iPad Pro on their range of contracts, the company is offering the 128GB LTE version of Apple’s new tablet.

The device is available on installment plans with Sprint, this costs $200 up front which is then followed by 24 monthly payments of $36.67 a month.

The new, larger iPad Pro features a stunning 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels, the most ever in an iOS device, and groundbreaking performance with the new 64-bit A9X chip, rivaling most portable PCs. It is thin, light and delivers all-day 10-hour battery life that users have come to expect from iPad. Ultra-fast wireless connectivity keeps you connected wherever you go with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO technology, support for a wide range of LTE bands and other fast cellular network technologies.

Sprint will also offer Apple’s new Smart Keyboard, which brings breakthrough levels utility toiPad Pro. Apple’s new Smart Keyboard further extends the utility of iPad Pro, offering a full-sizedkeyboard in a thin, durable design so you can take it anywhere. The Smart Keyboard, available for purchase separately, attaches to iPad Pro’s innovative Smart Connector port, eliminating the need for a separate battery, on/off switch or Bluetooth pairing.

Apple’s iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Gets Taken Apart

iPad Pro Smart Keyboard

We recently saw a tear down for the new Apple iPad Pro and also the new Apple Pencil and now the guys from iFixit have taken apart the new Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro.

The Apple Smart Keyboard is a 64 key QWERTY keyboard and it comes with a Smart Connector for data and power, it is designed bot be water and stain resistant.

Smart keyboard

Neither the iPad pro or the Apple Pencil scored very well on the previous tear downs and it looks like theSmart Keyboard is even worse.

The guys from iFixit score devices on their repair index from 1 to 10, 1 is the most difficult device to repair and 10 is the easiest. The Apple Smart Keyboard score 0 out of 10 on their repair index, this basically means that it can not be repaired.

Smart Keyboard

According to iFixit it is impossible to take the keyboard apart without damaging it, this means that it can not be put back together.The Apple Pencil scored 1 out of 10 in the previous tear down as a couple of parts could be replaced, no parts can be replaced on the Smart Keyboard. You can see lots more photos and find out more details over at iFixit at the link below.

Apple Buys Faceshift Motion Technology Used In Star Wars

Faceshift

Apple has made another acquisition this time it is a company called Faceshift who make motion capture technology that has been used in Star Wars.

The company is based in Zurich and its software is used to capture facial expressions and then translate these expressions onto animated avatars and characters in real time.

Apple has given TechCrunch the their standard response about the acquisition of Faceshift, which you can see below.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

As yet there are no detail on exactly what Apple has planned for the technology that has be acquired when Apple took over Faceshift. A number of the company’s employees are apparently now working for Apple in Europe.

As soon as we get some more details on exactly what Apple has planned for this facial expression capture technology, we will let you guys know, the video below shows how the company’s technology works.

Samsung OLED Display To Be Used In 2018 iPhones

OLED Display

We have heard rumors in the past that Apple will use an OLED display in some of their future iPhones, this is not expected to show up in next years iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

According to a recent report, Apple are in talks with Samsung about the company supplying its OLED display panels for their 2018 iPhone.

The news comes in a report from the Korea Times who have received some information from a Samsung executive about the talks between Apple and Samsung.

“Samsung Display has recently renewed talks with Apple to supply its small-sized OLED displays for the next iPhones to be released in a few years, which I believe is around 2018,” a high-ranking industry executive told The Korea Times last week.

So we presume this would be for the iPhone 8 which is expected to land in 2018, as the iPhone 7 will launch in 2016 and the iPhone 7S in 2017.