This Week in Tech 620: From Key West to Key Largo

Amazon buys Whole Foods, might buy Slack. Travis Kalanick resigns as Uber CEO. The best drones money can buy. iPad Pro is the future of Mac laptops. Neighbor spoofing robocaller made a million calls a day. Apple Music now $99/year. Why Apple made the iPhone.

–Owen JJ Stone has strange ideas about geography.
–Tom Merritt writes books about time travel.
–Jason Hiner writes books about amazing podcasters.

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This Week in Tech 618: Snakes vs Alligators

Leo is out this week, so Jason Snell takes the reins. At WWDC this week, Apple announced their Amazon Echo killer, the HomePod. They also announced big updates to iOS 11, the 10.5″ iPad Pro, and the (at least) $4999 iMac Pro. Catering to a slightly less spendy demographic, Amazon announced that it will offer lower priced Prime subscriptions to people on Government Assistance. Uber had (another) bad week – capped off with Eric Holder’s report to the Uber board.

–Mikah Sargent thinks Taylor Swift is fine.
–Harry McCracken is on Team Katy.
–Lisa Schmeiser has a blank space, baby, and she’ll write your name.
–Jason Snell has Katy Perry on the counter in his kitchen.

iOS 7 finally gets jailbroken, just in time for the holidays

In time for the holiday season, an iOS 7 jailbreak has been released from the Evasi0n team, supporting all iPhones, iPod touches, iPads and iPad minis running iOS 7.0 to 7.0.4. The jailbreak is untethered, meaning the device its installed on will remain jailbroken after a reboot.

The process to jailbreak an iOS 7 device is said to be quite easy, taking around five minutes to complete. Once the installer has finished its work, you will be able to begin customizing your device and installing third-party applications, just like with any previous jailbreak for older iOS versions.

However this jailbreak is not without controversy. It has been reported that the version of Cydia (a third-party app store) included with the jailbreak is not official, nor updated. It has also come to light that a second app store called Taig is installed on devices where the language is set to Chinese; Taig sells some cracked/pirated applications, which many members of the jailbreaking community are not happy about.

The good news is that members of team Evasi0n, despite entering an agreement with Taig, are on the case to remove any signs of piracy from the Chinese marketplace. Evasi0n had hoped that their “cooperation with Taig will improve the piracy situation in China”, and will continue to remove pirated apps where they are discovered.

via iOS 7 finally gets jailbroken, just in time for the holidays – TechSpot.

Chrome 29 for iOS availble now, brings enahanced voice search features

Google has just recently released a small but useful update to its iOS Chrome app. The now available Chrome 29 for your iPhone or iPad boasts a few new interesting features.

The app’s main new additions come in the way of new search, data management and voice search features. The new search feature will allow users to get back to their search results faster: Once you do a search, click a result and then find out its not what you wanted, when you hit back “your search results will instantly appear, ready for you to choose the next one,” Google’s Chrome for iOS update post read.

Chrome 29 will also come with an interesting voice search enhancement. Now you can request follow up searches by using pronouns. So for example, your initial search could be “Who is the president of the United States?” and now with the new pronoun recognition, you could follow up with, “Who is his wife?”

Lastly, Google has also given users the ability to view their data savings in Bandwidth Management Settings. At this point, the feature is being rolled out slowly, but according to Google will be available to “all users over time.” Other additions coming along with the update include general improvements with security and Single Sign On. You can grab Chrome 29 for free through the App Store now.

via Chrome 29 for iOS availble now, brings enahanced voice search features – TechSpot.

Researchers crack iOS-generated hotspot passwords in 24 seconds

If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner who uses hotspot mode but never bothered to change the seemingly-random password suggested by iOS, now is definitely a good time. German researchers have discovered (pdf) the passwords iOS issues can be easily predicted, allowing them to be cracked in as little as one minute using consumer hardware.

The algorithm iOS uses to generate hotspot keys takes a dictionary word, adds a couple of numbers and voila — an easily memorable password is born. The problem though, is despite the endless variety of words available in the English language, iOS draws its password inspiration from a narrow selection of just 1,842 words.

The second issue is certain words appear several times more frequently than other words. For example, out of nearly 2,000 words, “suave” had a 1-in-125 chance of being used. Meanwhile, “macaws” — the tenth most-likely word to be used — appeared 1-in-345 times. Knowing iOS’ preferred word selection allows brute force crackers to start with the most common ones first, further reducing the time needed.

A PC armed with a Radeon HD 6990 GPU was able to crack the average iPhone hotspot in 52 seconds while four Radeon HD 7970s yielded an average of just 24 seconds. GPUs are favored amongst crackers for their ability to perform massively parallell computations.

Although researchers revealed how easily an iOS-generated hotspot password can be brute forced, other exploits like attacking iOS’ PSK authentication method help to facilitate the process. Because handheld devices aren’t equipped with high-end GPUs, researchers even discussed offloading the computational work to a cloud-based service like CloudCracker for cracking hotspots on-the-go.

Of course, Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on devices with easily cracked hotspot passwords. Windows Phone and some Android handsets don’t fare much better.

Windows Phone, for example, auto-generates hotspot passwords consisting of eight numbers. This means you already know what the password could be, making Windows Phone susceptible to brute force attacks. More research may reveal an additional weakness though, which could narrow that selection of 10^8 possibilities down to something even more tractable.

Meanwhile, Android’s default password generator conjures sufficiently strong passwords, but some vendors have taken the liberty of greatly reducing its effectiveness. “Android-based models of the smartphone and tablet manufacturer HTC are even shipped with constant default passwords consisting of a static string (1234567890)” researchers noted.

When boiled down to its nuts and bolts though, the moral of this story is probably this: always create your own passwords, provided you follow some of the basic principles for creating strong ones.

via Researchers crack iOS-generated hotspot passwords in 24 seconds – TechSpot.

Apple has posted its iOS 7 overview video, highlights all the features

Since its release alongside the original iPhone in 2007, users have complained that the company’s mobile OS is ‘stale’. Given the advent of Windows Phone 8 and Android 4.2 ‘Jelly Bean’, Apple’s proprietary 5×4 grid of app icons has, for many users, become unfit for purpose. 

At its WWDC conference, Apple today announced iOS 7, the next major iteration of its mobile OS. The update brings with it a major redesign, offering a flatter, cleaner design and 3D layers. Stock apps have been significantly updated to mirror the new design, with lots of white space and thinline fonts.

Design

As rumoured, iOS 7 brings with it a far cleaner and flatter design with heavily updated colours, icons and new features. The new lock screen offers thin fonts, an animated wallpaper and the ability to quickly swipe down to access Notification Center.

Control Center & Multitasking

It’s long been the signature feature of jailbreaking your iOS device, but now Apple have created their own solution for quickly accessing your device’s settings. Swiping up from the bottom of your device’s display on iOS 7 prompts Control Center to appear, offering controls to toggle Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Orientation Lock.

By simply double-tapping in iOS 7, a new multitasking environment appears, offering live previews of currently running applications, accessible from anywhere in the OS.

Safari

Apple’s default web browser has been updated to reflect iOS 7’s new design, as well as offering new features to make the browsing the web faster and more intuitive. A new ‘tabs’ feature breaks free of iOS’ 8-tab limit to offer unlimited tabs as well as a new 3D browsing environment. Under the hood, Safari has been updated further to support the newest and emerging web standards.

Camera & Photos

Whilst the iPhone 5’s camera hardware has been met with lots of positive acclaim, organising your photos has always taken a back seat in Apple’s mobile OS. Now with iOS 7, the company offers you multiple ways to experience all of your snaps. Photos can be categorised by location, date and the people within them. Scrolling back through months worth of photos has always been a drag, but now with iOS 7 you can simply pinch out to view your entire library and scrub between them.

The camera app in iOS 7 also offers an improved UI and new live filters. From within the camera app, gesture-based pop-up previews can be enabled to easily view photos you’ve just taken.

Siri & iOS in the Car

Siri in iOS 7 offers a flatter and cleaner interface, as with many of the other stock software features. The service has been graced with a host of new, more realistic voices with a variety of language options. Your phone’s virtual personality can now control brightness or other device settings, as well as offering quick updates from Twitter, Bing and Wikipedia.

Music & iTunes Radio

The stock Music app in iOS 7 has been significantly updated with a new design, new control options and of course, iTunes Radio functionality.

iTunes Radio lets you choose tracks to listen to-ondemand, and allows you to create custom radio stations based upon recommendations and your favourite artists. Clearly designed to compete with Pandora, an established radio platform for iOS, iTunes Radio works on all iOS devices as well as within the desktop iTunes environment. iTunes Radio will be offered to users free with ads, and existing iTunes Match subscribers can enjoy the service ad-free.

iOS 7 also includes FaceTime audio calls over Wi-Fi, improved search functionality in Mail, the ability to block phone calls, FaceTime calls and messages, as well as notification sync across all your iOS and OS X devices. Notifications themselves also take a more prominent position, allowing users to reply to messages straight from the pop-up, a feature mirrored across to OS X “Mavericks”, the company’s new desktop OS.

via: Neowin

iOS 7: “dramatic” e-mail and calendar revamp causes delay

Rumors earlier this month suggested Apple’s iOS 7 may be running behind schedule. Sources in contact with Bloomberg indicate this delay stems from a impending overhaul of iOS’ user interface and “dramatic” changes to Apple’s e-mail and calendar apps. These arguably much-needed enhancements come at the behest of Jonathan Ive — Apple’s long-time hardware (and now software) design visionary — as he attempts to refine and even undo some of Scott Forstall’s most questionable work.

Apple “skeuomorphism” on current iOS apps (image credit: iMore).

If rumors hold true, vanquished will be skeuomorphic design elements — possibly ones like yellow paper-looking notepads and e-books nestled upon virtual wooden shelves. Instead, sources claim Ive and company are working toward a “very, very flat” and modern look which is to become uniform throughout iOS. Changes in store for e-mail and calendar apps are unknown at this point, but there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement: a truth which projects like Mailbox seem well aware of.

So, wait a moment — flatter? Are we talking “Windows 8” flatter or just the removal of electronically simulated leather and wood grain? 9to5Mac recently took a stab at explaining what this could mean. Naturally though, such details about upcoming iOS changes remain elusive. However, we may get a glimpse of iOS 7 on June 10; Apple is expected to pull the curtain on both Mac OS X 10.9 and its latest iOS at this year’s WWDC.

Despite purported internal delays, Bloomberg’s sources claim iOS 7 remains on track for its anticipated September release. This apparent confidence concerning a still-timely release may be due in part to Apple’s decision to enlist additional help from Mac OS X 10.9 engineers.

via iOS 7: “dramatic” e-mail and calendar revamp causes delay – TechSpot.

Apple warns users against jailbreaking following evasi0n hack

Although unlocking a phone that’s still tied to a contract was recently deemed illegal in the US, jailbreaking isn’t, according to the latest review of exceptions to the DMCA in October. But that doesn’t mean the practice isn’t frowned upon by the likes of Apple, which has issued a warning in response to the Evasi0n unthethered jailbreak for iOS 6.1 devices.

The tool in question was released just two days ago by a team known as evad3rs and works with Mac, Windows and Linux. It marks the first time that a jailbreak has been offered for Apple’s latest hardware including the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.

With over 2 million downloads already and counting Apple has seen fit to revise its anti-jailbreak rhetoric with an update to Knowledge Base article reminding users that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch are designed to work together reliably but unauthorized modifications to iOS can cause a number of issues. Some examples of these issues include instability, shortened battery life, unreliable voice and data, and possibly being exposed to security vulnerabilities from running unsactioned third-party software.

Apple also warns of possible service disruptions affecting things like iCloud or Push Notifications on hacked devices, and more importantly, that incompatibility with future updates might leave you with a bricked device.

In all fairness even the groups behind jailbreaking tools warn that you should proceed at your own risk, so Apple is only doing their part letting you know what you could be getting into. And of course since jailbreaking is a violation of the iOS end-user license agreement Apple may deny service for your hacked device.

That said, if you really know what you are doing jailbreaking can help you get much more out of your device. For those who don’t know, the process essentially does away with operating system restrictions and allows you to run all kinds of apps and system tweaks that haven’t been authorized by Apple — to install Siri on older devices, enable tethering, or use Wi-Fi only apps over 3G, for example. It’s not to be confused with “unlocking” which lets you bypass carrier restrictions and load up a SIM from another service provider on your phone.

via Apple warns users against jailbreaking following evasi0n hack – TechSpot.

128GB iPad: From myth to reality in 24 hours

Following rumors from Monday that Apple may begin offering iOS devices in 128GB capacities, the company announced on Tuesday that it is indeed launching a 128GB iPad starting next week. The new model joins the existing fourth-generation line-up of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models and comes in black and white. It will be available with or without 4G LTE wireless networking.

Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the reason for the capacity bump was to aid users who are increasingly using an iPad to replace an existing desktop or laptop PC. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators, and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs,” he said in a statement.

Apple also cited developers of several high-end apps for iPad, including Autodesk, who said that the increased capacity is necessary for those users that continually push the data storage limits of existing iPads.

“Our AutoCAD WS app for iOS was designed to give customers seamless access to their designs anywhere, anytime,” Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD products for Autodesk, said in a statement. “These files are often large and highly detailed, so having [extra capacity] is a real advantage for iPad users to view, edit and share their AutoCAD data.”

As predicted, the new 128GB iPad costs $799 for a Wi-Fi model, and $929 for a Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Both versions are expected to be available online and in stores on Tuesday, February 5.

via 128GB iPad: From myth to reality in 24 hours | Ars Technica.