Apple have rolled out iTunes 10.3 which includes a beta of their upcoming iCloud, Apple’s online storage solution.
iCloud, which is a replacement for MobileMe will not have full functionality until a later release but some of its features are being introduced now; like ‘Automatic Download’ to ensure all your music, apps and everything else you purchased from iTunes is downloaded/synced to all of your devices running version 10.3.
This new release also lets you download previously purchased material (at no extra cost), depending of course if the music, app or whatever it may be is still available. For more of the nitty gritty head on over to Apple’s support page.
There have been calls for the company to fix the location tracking bug for the last few weeks. The controversy started when it was discovered that iPhones were storing unencrypted data of a person’s movements; data that could easily be read by anyone, giving details of an iPhone user’s whereabouts for up to one year, with timestamps to boot.
The company claims the information was never meant to be stored on the iPhone (let alone unencrypted) and the only purpose it serves is logging of WiFi hotspots and cell tower data, which in turn enables faster GPS triangulation. But with 4.3.3 a number of changes have been made to reduce the size of this cache, which will also be deleted when ‘location services’ are turned off.
Below are some of the changes made in iOS 4.3.3:
The update will no longer back up the location database to iTunes.
The size of the location database will be reduced.
The location database will be deleted entirely when Location Services are turned off.
According to Apple, the data stored on the iPhone that keeps records of a user’s location and even timestamps for up to one year is a software bug. The unencrypted data can be read from the iPhone giving anyone access to details of a person’s whereabouts. Privacy advocates have been up in arms about the issue; including US Senator Al Franken, who sent a pressing letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
But it seems all the emotion may have been slightly out of proportion. The company claims the information was not meant to be stored on the iPhone (let alone unencrypted) and the only purpose it serves is logging of WiFi hotspots and cell tower data, which in turn enables faster GPS triangulation. There is still the issue of consumer privacy and Apple clearly botched it, but at least it appears there was no nefarious intentions on the part of Apple and they are taking steps to rectify the matter.
The company will be addressing these issues and more in the next iOS update, which is coming out in a few weeks time:
Sometime in the next few weeks Apple will release a free iOS software update that:
reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone,
ceases backing up this cache, and
deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.
In the next major iOS software release the cache will also be encrypted on the iPhone.
You can also find a Q&A on Apple’s website with 10 of the most common questions surrounding this matter answered.
This massive profit spike is being attributed to a large rise in iPhone sales. The company sold 18.65 million iPhones, causing Apple’s stock to go up 2.5%.
According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs the company is “firing on all cylinders”, and promised that Apple will “continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year”.
Meanwhile the iPhone maker is coming under fire from all fronts because of its recently discovered tracking activities. iPhone and iPad users’ whereabouts have been tracked secretly by Apple, and uploaded to the company incognito; raising a few eyebrows from privacy advocates.
You may not have been aware of it but if you own an iPhone it may be secretly keeping track of your every movement, wherever you have been. This information is allegedly stored on a secret file on the iPhone and then uploaded to your PC when you sync it. Your whereabouts including time and date is then passed on to Apple.
Because this information is not encrypted on the phone you can download an application that reveals the details of your whereabouts, including timestamps; raising legitimate privacy concerns.
Some politicians are extremely irked by the non-disclosure of such a policy and the privacy implications. In a open letter to Steve Jobs, Senator Al Franken is demanding answers from the Apple CEO.
Dear Mr. Jobs,
I read with concern a recent report by security researchers that Apple’s iOS 4 operating system is secretly compiling its customers’ location data in a file stored on iPhones, 3G iPads, and every computer that users used to “sync” their devices. According to the researchers, this file contains consumers’ latitude and longitude for every day they used an iPhone or 3G iPad running the iOS 4 operating system-sometimes logging their precise geo-location up to 100 times a day. The researchers who discovered this file found that it contained up to a year’s worth of data, starting from the day they installed the iOS 4 operating system. What is even more worrisome is that this file is stored in an unencrypted format on customers’ iPads, iPhones, and every computer a customer has used to back up his or her information.
The details of Apple’s tracking activities were discovered by security researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warren and made known at O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 conference.
Update: It’s looking more likely that this is a bug in the iOS software, one that will be fixed soon. Although Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the matter, reliable sources have cast doubt over the initial privacy concerns.
iPad owners interested in using their device as a portable gaming rig got some more good news from Epic games today. President Mike Capps announced Epic’s first foray into the world of iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch gaming. Codenamed Project Sword, Epic’s new fps will find players in a medieval role-player that uses the Unreal 3 gaming engine.
‘Project Sword’ will also have a multiplayer mode, with the announcement of Apple’s upcoming Game Centre. But best of all, you can snag a playable demo of sorts from Itunes right now for free. It’s not really a complete game but it allows you to walk around the Unreal 3 environments and explore some of what the game has to offer when it is released later this year.
The demo is titled Epic Citadel and is playable on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
John Carmack recently unveiled Rage on the iPhone 4 at QuakeCon. A lucky and enthusiastic crowd saw Carmack walk through a short level he pieced together to give people a feel of what can be achieved with the iPhone 4. The game ran at 60 fps, and although the detail from the iPhone version wouldn’t be enough to make you drool all over yourself, it certainly looks playable and is a good indicator of things to come in the not-to-distant future for iPhone users. Carmack also expressed his delight at how well the game looked and played on the iPad.
There is rumour that when shipped the game will also include an option to play at 30 fps to save on battery life, which is already one frown-upon aspect of Apple’s Phone. We’ll keep you posted on further developments as more info comes our way.