VS iPhone: July 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Today an underground hacker team "web-Hack" from Russia released a whitepaper with results of iPhone firmware research. They reverse- engineered some functions and published this information. Results of a research shocked community. Russian hackers found a built-in function which sends all data from an iPhone to a specified web-server. Contacts from a phonebook, SMS, recent calls, history of Safari browser - all your personal information can be stolen.
At present there is no additional information about this issue. Researches assume that this function either a debug feature or a built-in backdoor module for some governmental structures. Anyways this function can be used by a trojan-developers or activated by the AT&T.
We will monitor all information about this accident and will publish it immediately.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he said it was the "best iPod ever". In many ways, he was right; for example, the larger screen and touch-screen content browsing are stellar. On the other hand, the iPhone also has something in common with the worst iPod ever, the third generation (3G) model: touch-sensitive playback controls.
Don't get me wrong; touch-sensitive controls can be very cool, and very effective witness the iPhone's overall interface. But when it comes to portable music players, there are times, such as when the player is in your pocket, when these controls are a major hassle.
For starters, there's the whole "Oops, I didn't mean to touch that" thing, when you stick your hand in your pocket or bag and accidentally brush against a control, skipping tracks or, even worse, turning the volume to full.
But even more problematic are situations when you want to do something for example, skip to the next track but the iPod is out of sight. With physical controls, you can feel around for the right button and press it. With touch-sensitive buttons, that's not an option. This is bad enough when the controls are touch-sensitive but tactile, as on the 3G iPod you end up accidentally "pressing" random buttons while trying to feel around for a particular one. It's even worse when all the controls are part of a single, flat surface you have no other choice but to pull the player out, turn on its screen, and visually locate the desired button.
This isn't just idle criticism. As much as I love the iPod section of the iPhone, after using it for a couple weeks, I'm already frequently annoyed by this drawback. Sure, the iPhone's earbuds include an inline controller, but it provides only the most basic functions. (And if you prefer better headphones, you're completely out of luck unless you buy a third-party accessory.)
In my opinion, any good media player must have a few essential physical controls: play/pause, volume up/down, forward/back, and hold. And these buttons must be usable by feel. With rumors of upcoming touchscreen iPods multiplying by the minute, here's hoping Apple doesn't go overboard with the whole "Ooh, look at the touchscreen!" thing, and makes the next iPod both drool-worthy and usable.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Want an iPhone? Of course you do. It looks sexy, it's innovative, and--for a while at least--it'll be the ultimate status symbol. But in the fog of iPhone hype, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the latest Apple sensation will still have its share of disadvantages. We don't have the king of gadgets in our mitts yet, but judging from the information that has already been released, clearly some folks could have problems with the iPhone. So before you dump your current cell phone, consider these issues.
Data that crawls: When AT&T's EDGE network debuted in 2005, it seemed zippy indeed, delivering data at up to 100 kilobits per second. But that was then. Today, with true 3G technologies delivering data at up to several hundred kbps, Apple's decision not to support AT&T's UMTS-HSDPA 3G network seems short-sighted--especially given the iPhone's investment in cool new Web browsing technology that doesn't suffer from the compromises of a mobile browser. In our limited hands-on tests a few months ago, downloading the New York Times' front page via EDGE took quite a few seconds. AT&T has tacitly acknowledged this potential problem by announcing upgrades to its EDGE network in anticipation of the iPhone launch. And of course, the iPhone will support Wi-Fi, which will make Web page downloads much more feasible if you're in range of a hotspot.
Limited third-party apps: Lots of cell phone power users get more value out of the applications they've loaded on their handsets themselves than the often lame or expensive offerings from their carriers. When the iPhone was first announced, third-party apps seemed shut out entirely, a move that prompted one online petition of protest. Now Apple says that developers can create iPhone apps that run in Safari. Only two problems with that: First, those apps may be fairly poky given the iPhone's slower EDGE network connection. Second, many developers seem to hate writing for Safari. As PC World forums member dazeddan said, "As a developer, we have more problems designing around Safari than any other platform. I wish it would just go away."
Where are the keys? The iPhone's software keyboard, with its on-screen key images, may work fine with Steve Jobs's single-finger hunt-and-peck approach, but it could prove problematic for those folks who have honed their thumb-typing skills on BlackBerry units, Treos, Motorola Q handsets, or other PDA phones with physical QWERTY keyboards. Things did not go well for one PC World editor when she tried typing on a prototype iPhone in January; even the best predictive text entry software would have been stymied by the string of incorrect characters. Plus, what happens when the on-screen keyboard covers up the very e-mail text you're trying to respond to?
It costs how much?! You've probably already heard about the iPhone's astronomical price: $500 for a 4GB model and $600 for 8GB. But you may not have calculated all the other costs associated with buying one. You'll have to make a two-year commitment to AT&T at a per-month cost that starts at $60, recent reports say. And unlike with pretty much every other phone in the world, making that commitment doesn't knock down the price, it's just a requirement. Plus, if you're in the midst of a prior two-year commitment with a competing carrier, your cost of iPhone ownership could be further inflated by the early termination penalty you'll pay your current carrier. And finally, AT&T doesn't always receive high marks for its service. You may be okay with the deal now, but how will you feel in a year if the iPhone is no longer the coolest handset on the planet?
Businesspeople need not apply: It's a safe bet that many professionals will want an iPhone. But BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian smart phones offer a long list of business-related features that the iPhone apparently won't, at least upon release. Included on the list are support for Exchange and Domino servers, the ability to view and edit Office documents, and industrial-strength data security options.
More Potential Drawbacks
Unplugged Web plug-ins: The iPhone's Safari may turn out to be the most desktop-like browser ever to appear on a phone. But it won't offer the full complement of plug-ins, players, and other enhancements that today's sites require. And an iPhone without Java, Windows Media, Real, and Flash Video support will fall short of delivering an uncompromised Web experience. (Even its much-touted YouTube capability won't let you watch the full catalog of YouTube videos, at least initially.)
The battery life question: Apple says that the iPhone's battery will survive up to 8 hours of talk time, up to 250 hours of idle time, up to 6 hours of Internet use, up to 7 hours of video playback, and up to 24 hours of audio playback. And to explain how it came up with these numbers, the company has posted a list of footnotes and disclaimers that rivals the rules you find on a "free trip to Hawaii" sweepstakes form. We won't know the reality until we're holding the iPhone in our trembling, multitouching fingers. Apple's spec page says that the 8 hours of talk time was achieved when "the Wi-Fi feature Ask to Join Networks was turned off." So how disabled was the Wi-Fi when talk time was tested? Apple also doesn't make clear what combination of 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and EDGE was employed to achieve the 7 hours of Internet use. Macs have pretty good power management settings. What will the iPhone offer? Until more is known, be prepared to carry around the phone charger.
Off-limits battery: While we're on the subject of the battery, it's worth noting that, like the original iPod, the iPhone has its battery enclosed in a superslim case among tightly negotiated electronics and behind a top surface of glass--reducing the chances of a DIY battery replacement to next to nil. (Plus, we suspect that attempting a replacement voids the warranty.) So if your battery life dwindles to roughly 6.5 minutes per charge, or the battery malfunctions, you'll have to send your iPhone in for repair.
Finally, a few other issues that probably aren't deal-breakers but are still worth considering:
It's a thief magnet: Everybody wants an iPhone, including people who aren't above stealing yours.
Multismudge screen: You can use all five fingers on the screen at once? Better wash your hands first.
OMG no IM: Inveterate chatters won't be so :) about being limited to SMS.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The game is on for hackers trying to spot security vulnerabilities in Apple's iPhone and already they're scoring points. Less than 72 hours after the iPhone's introduction, researchers have reported at least one flaw that could allow an attacker some level of control over the device, while other hackers have uncovered passwords hiding in Apple software that could prove key in gaining root access, they said.
The most serious flaw, reported by Errata Security, resides in the iPhone's Safari browser. By effecting a buffer overflow in the application, an attacker can take control of the browser and run code on the device, said Robert Graham, CEO of Errata.
"The scenario that seems most attractive is to have the phone dial 900 numbers," Graham said, noting an age-old attack that allows criminals with ties to fee-based phone services to profit each time an infected computer dial the number.
It's one of the same Safari flaws Errata researchers documented earlier this month, just hours after Apple released a beta version of the app for Windows users. Apple moved quickly to fix several, but not all, of the bugs.
Errata also reported a bug that resides in the iPhone's Bluetooth features. By exposing them to a fuzzer, it seems, it's easy to make the entire device lock up in a very predictable manner.
Apple representatives didn't respond to a request for comment.
Since Friday's release of the iPhone, hackers have raced to spot bugs in the device or get it to behave in ways its designers didn't intend. Researchers have yet to unlock the phone so it can be used on networks other than AT&T's or get it to run Linux, but they say they're making progress.
They've also assembled a Wiki designed to foster the sharing of information relating to topics such as breaking the activation, unlocking the phone so it can run on multiple networks and allowing the running of third party applications.
Among the advances made to date, hackers have discovered the password the iPhone requires to give an application root access is, amazingly, "dottie" (minus the quotation marks). A second password for mobile access is "alpine."
The passwords were remarkably easy to learn. Researchers posting in a forum on Hackintosh first downloaded the file that iTunes accesses when a user wants to restore the iPhone software. A simple run with John the Ripper, a popular password cracking program, on one of the files contained in the download and the passwords became public knowledge.
"As of yet, those passwords do not have a specific use, but that's not to say that within the next 20 minutes somebody finds a service on port 123 and we can log into it," said Kevin Finisterre, an independent security researcher who has been trying to learn as much as he can about the iPhone.
While no one has yet been able to obtain root access to the iPhone - which amounts to the Holy Grail to those hacking the device - Finisterre says he has reason to believe that's only a matter of time. That's because he has been examining information in files that are created each time the device crashes. Each one has listed the effective user for an application as root.
Hackers are publicly aspiring to plenty of other tricks, including breaking digital rights management functionality in the iPhone. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it never will.
"I don't think enough researchers like myself have the iPhone in their hands," said Finisterre, who isn't willing to shell out the $500 to obtain a device. "Once folks like us get a hold of the thing, I think you're going to see quite a bit of stuff go on."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Every one has heard about the iPhone, and with its recent debut many cell phone users are clamoring to get one. The iPhone has a lot going for it, it's cool first of all and delivers an internet experience closer to that of an actual computer than any other phone on the market. But what about the drawbacks? If the price doesn't stop you consider some other drawbacks of the iPhone that may keep many people from buying it, for now anyway.
The price is one major drawback, its $500 price tag for the 4GB model and $600 price tag for the 8GB model will turn enough people off before they even learn about all the nifty features. While $500 is not totally unheard of in the world of mobile devices, plenty of people will be waiting until the price drops some before snagging an iPhone for themselves.
One of the iPhone's best qualities, its internet ability, is also one of its drawbacks. While you can view web pages the way you would on a computer right on the iPhone, the iPhone is not compatible with multiple browsers, with Safari being the only choice. The iPhone also does not support Java, Windows Media, Real, or Flash Video so your internet experience may be lacking on sites that require the use of said programs. Oh, and about watching You Tube videos on your iPhone, the number of videos you can watch initially will be limited, with the full catalog of videos not being available until this fall.
Another drawback you might not even know about, a buried battery. The iPhone has a battery that is encased inside the phone among sensitive electronics and under glass. This means iPhone owners can't replace the battery themselves, the iPhone must be sent out for repairs. So when the battery becomes depleted or malfunctions hopefully replacing it is covered by the warranty or else iPhone owners will be forking over more dough to get a new battery.
And because the iPhone is so new, real consumer data isn't available yet on just how long battery life is, over all and between charges. Apple says the iPhone will last for 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of internet use, 7 hours of video playback, 24 hours of audio playback, and 250 hours of idle time. But with these tests being done in a lab and with many features turned off, actual usage times will probably vary.
The third party applications loaded on many cell phone users phones are the most important and most used features they have, regardless of which carrier they have or where the applications came from. At first Apple was going to shut out third party applications altogether, but after enough people protested they decided to allow applications, except they had to run in Safari. This should be good news except that the iPhone's EDGE network connection is not the fastest out there which means Safari applications will probably be kind of slow and, well, a lot of programmers don't like designing for Safari in the first place.
Keyboard is really cool, but may prove problematic. For people who have perfected typing with their thumbs on a mobile device's QWERTY keyboard, the iPhone's keypad will slow them down. The smooth glass surface used to type on is also prone to slips and smudges, making typing even more precarious. And unlike other phones, the keypad is taking up precious screen space.
Something else to think about, the iPhone is going to be in high demand after its release so it will probably be targeted for theft more than other types of phones for a while. Also, running out to get an iPhone right away means paying for a two year contract with AT&T while their rates are comparable to the other national carriers they may not be the cheapest. And if you have to switch carriers you may have to pay hefty cancellation fees to your old carrier if your current cell phone contract isn't up yet.
The iPhone is the coolest phone out there right now, but every one knows what's hot one day is not the next. Consider all aspects of any major purchase before you buy because in the end, the choice is up to you.