Category Archives: Apple

Quote of the day

A friend sent me this quote:

No way that “the market” forced Apple to do anything. Steve Jobs is the undisputed master of all reality. Surely Mac loyalists will find some way to spin this… I know! Steve didn’t want all that money anyway, so he decided to lower prices of his own volition. Surely he will soon lower prices on the iPhone and the iPod, right?

— Posted by Ed

Think Closed

I was expecting that the iPhone firmware update would simply relock unlocked iPhones so that they could only be used with AT&T. I was wrong. As you may know by now, after an unlocked iPhone has been upgraded with the 1.1.1 firmware it will refuse to activate with any SIM. The technical evidence so far indicates that this was intentional by Apple. Although the iPhone is still alive, it’s completely useless. It’s essentially a brick.

Has Nokia or Sony Ericsson ever bricked or refused service on an unlocked phone? Not that I’ve heard of, and if they did, they would have been quickly sued in several countries where consumer rights are more strongly protected.

Did Sony ever brick PSPs over homebrew software? Did Microsoft ever overwrite someone’s BIOS with garbage because they detected an illegitimate Windows installation?

In light of other things Apple has done lately, such as adding an encrypted hash to the iPod database to lock out non-Apple software and disabling TV-out on the iPod unless the 3rd party accessory you’re using has an Apple authentication chip, it’s evident that Apple is well on its way to become one of the most consumer hostile tech companies.

When Steve Jobs claimed the iPhone was 5 years ahead of every other phone, was he talking about the iPhone’s revolutionary handcuffs?

In a world where open technologies are increasingly becoming the norm, Apple’s way of Thinking Different means marching in the opposite direction.

Update: According to the iPhone Dev Wiki, there is now a method for downgrading from 1.1.1 to 1.0.2 to revive your iPhone. There’s even a tutorial on YouTube.

Apple FUD about iPhone unlocking

Apple issued a FUD-filled press release yesterday about iPhone unlocking. A poster over at Ars, Quitch, offers this view:

So either Apple is intentionally bricking the phone, or their engineers haven’t heard of checksums.

Oh this is a hard one…

Apple’s claim that “unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone’s software” is a blatant lie if you use the common sense definition of damage. Apple, of course, is using a different definition of damage: any change to the iPhone software that Apple doesn’t like is considered damage.

In any case, I doubt Apple has intentionally engineered the update to brick any iPhones. According to the iPhone Dev Team, there have been several hundred thousand downloads of the iPhone unlocking software. There’s no way of knowing exactly how many people have actually unlocked their iPhones, but I estimate it’s tens of thousands. Imagine the PR fallout from the iPhone price drop. Now double that… and mix in some lawsuits.

The only way Apple could unintentionally brick any iPhones is if they’re doing a diff patch of the baseband firmware without verifying that the original firmware hasn’t been modified. I doubt they’re doing a diff patch, but we’ll find out later this week when Apple releases the update.

As for the “you’ve modified the sacred firmware!” argument that’s being parroted around by some people, tx2tn over at Ars nails it:

As far as the “you changed the firmware” issues. That’s a load of crap. Yeah, you changed the firmware. So what? There is no great universal mystery about firmware. It’s just code, and under almost any other circumstances (translation – the rest of the world outside of Apple), can be reloaded to just start over. If it can be changed to be hacked, it can be changed to be reset back to normal.

Firmware is not magic.

Update: The iPhone software 1.1.1 update is out. According to early reports an unlocked iPhone will revert to being locked and inactivated with no way to reactivate with any SIM. The update also wipes out 3rd party applications.

iPhone Independence Day

I’ve found a way to activate a brand new unactivated iPhone without giving any of your money or personal information to NSA AT&T. The iPhone does not have phone capability, but the iPod and WiFi work. Stay tuned!

Update:

Magic iTunes 7.3.0.54 numbers:

Offset 2048912: 33C0C3

Offset 257074: 28

Offset 257013: 33C9B1

Add “127.0.0.1 albert.apple.com” to c:windowssystem32driversetchosts

Download Phone Activation Server v1.0 to activate your iPhone for iPod+WiFi use. Note that this application will not do anything unless you understand the magic numbers as well as add the hosts entry. Phone Activation Server (PAS) requires that you have the MS .NET Framework 2.0 installed.

Download PAS v1.0 Source Code.

Unbricking the iPhone

I’ve been playing with a friend’s iPhone to see how the activation process works (there are people who want an iPhone to use it as an iPod and WiFi device without having to enter into a 2-year AT&T contract).

The following pieces of information are used to activate an iPhone:

Unfortunately, the activation data is cryptographically signed. The following certificate (“Apple iPhone Activation”, issued by “Apple iPhone Certification Authority”) is used to verify the signature:

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
MIIDZzCCAk+gAwIBAgIBAjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQUFADB5MQswCQYDVQQGEwJVUzET
MBEGA1UEChMKQXBwbGUgSW5jLjEmMCQGA1UECxMdQXBwbGUgQ2VydGlmaWNhdGlv
biBBdXRob3JpdHkxLTArBgNVBAMTJEFwcGxlIGlQaG9uZSBDZXJ0aWZpY2F0aW9u
IEF1dGhvcml0eTAeFw0wNzA0MTYyMjU1MDJaFw0xNDA0MTYyMjU1MDJaMFsxCzAJ
BgNVBAYTAlVTMRMwEQYDVQQKEwpBcHBsZSBJbmMuMRUwEwYDVQQLEwxBcHBsZSBp
UGhvbmUxIDAeBgNVBAMTF0FwcGxlIGlQaG9uZSBBY3RpdmF0aW9uMIGfMA0GCSqG
SIb3DQEBAQUAA4GNADCBiQKBgQDFAXzRImArmoiHfbS2oPcqAfbEv0d1jk7GbnX7
+4YUlyIfprzBVdlmz2JHYv1+04IzJtL7cL97UI7fk0i0OMY0al8a+JPQa4Ug611T
bqEt+njAmAkge3HXWDBdAXD9MhkC7T/9o77zOQ1oli4cUdzlnYWfzmW0PduOxuve
AeYY4wIDAQABo4GbMIGYMA4GA1UdDwEB/wQEAwIHgDAMBgNVHRMBAf8EAjAAMB0G
A1UdDgQWBBShoNL+t7Rz/psUaq/NPXNPH+/WlDAfBgNVHSMEGDAWgBTnNCouIt45
YGu0lM53g2EvMaB8NTA4BgNVHR8EMTAvMC2gK6AphidodHRwOi8vd3d3LmFwcGxl
LmNvbS9hcHBsZWNhL2lwaG9uZS5jcmwwDQYJKoZIhvcNAQEFBQADggEBAF9qmrUN
dA+FROYGP7pWcYTAK+pLyOf9zOaE7aeVI885V8Y/BKHhlwAo+zEkiOU3FbEPCS9V
tS18ZBcwD/+d5ZQTMFknhcUJwdPqqjnm9LqTfH/x4pw8ONHRDzxHdp96gOV3A4+8
abkoASfcYqvIRypXnbur3bRRhTzAs4VILS6jTyFYymZeSewtBubmmigo1kCQiZGc
76c5feDAyHb2bzEqtvx3WprljtS46QT5CR6YelinZnio32jAzRYTxtS6r3JsvZDi
J07+EHcmfGdpxwgO+7btW1pFar0ZjF9/jYKKnOYNyvCrwszhafbSYwzAG5EJoXFB
4d+piWHUDcPxtcc=
-----END CERTIFICATE-----

iPhone battery

Apple issued a press release today about the iPhone’s battery life. Included was this comparison of smartphones:

iPhone battery

According to the above table the Nokia N95 does not have WiFi, which is incorrect. I’m sure Apple will quickly fix this, but it is not acceptable for a S&P 100 company to have made such a basic mistake in a product comparison for such a hot and closely watched product as the iPhone.

Apple TV hacks

What else to do when jet lagged than to unpack my brand new Apple TV?

Apple TV box

I wonder if the Apple TV is powered by a nuclear reactor because it runs fracking hot!
Has anyone determined which photo they’re referring to?

My unmodified Apple TV running vanilla MacOS X off a USB harddrive:

Apple TV running vanilla MacOS X

I enabled SSH and then installed Perian + ATVFiles. Now my Apple TV is able to play video formats that don’t fit into Steve’s master plan 😉

Check AwkwardTV for a list of hacks.

EMI goes DRM-free at higher pricepoint

EMI has been rumored for months to start licensing DRM-free tracks at a higher pricepoint. From today’s press release:

London, 2 April 2007 — EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Apple’s iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI’s new premium downloads. Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes wil continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

When people a while ago requested that Apple start selling DRM-free content from independent labels, some Apple fans argued that Apple couldn’t do this because it would break consistency in iTunes and create consumer confusion. Now Apple is going to be selling some DRM-free music at a higher price point. So much for the consistency and confusion argument! It will be interesting to see how this offering will be branded in the iTunes Store (DRM-free or “Higher Quality”?).

EMI is the smallest of the four major record labels and is in the worst financial shape. More conservative labels such as Universal and Sony BMG are unfortunately not likely to follow anytime soon.

Will Steve Jobs follow up with “Thoughts on Movies”? Highly unlikely, although the thought of a Disney director calling for an end to video DRM is entertaining! Steve’s main argument in “Thoughts on Music” was that CDs don’t have DRM. The studios have always insisted on copy protection (Macrovision, CSS, AACS) and that’s not likely to change in our digital lifetime. Perhaps Steve will start drafting another manifesto after the Apple TV has 90% market share 😉

Update: Steve’s Thoughts on Movies during the webcast:

Q: I take it then that you are going to be advocating the removal of the DRM of the videos you sell on iTunes. Any particular [inaudible] you could do that now with Disney given your involvement with the Disney company?

A: You know, video, uh… I knew I’d get that question today. Video is pretty different than music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM free; never has, and so I think they are in a pretty different situation and so I wouldn’t hold the two in parallel at all.