FBI Paid 1.3 Million

The FBI paid $1.3 million to hack into the San Bernardino iPhone. This is after Apple refused to open up the iPhone, after the FBI could not access it by brute force due to the security features implemented by Apple. From the Washington Post:

Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.

According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.

NY Introduces Bill To Ban Sale Of Encrypted Smartphones

From Loopinsight.com:

Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after January first, two thousand sixteen, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider. This means the mere threat of this law will have a chilling effect on iPhone sales. If someone sells an iPhone built this year, they are subject to massive fines ($2500 per phone) on the off chance that the bill passes.

iPod Touch 2015

Apple just released a new version of the iPod touch. It’s powered by an A8 chip. It comes with a 8mp iSight camera. It’s available in 5 colors. The retina display has a 1136 x 640 resolution. Most importantly, the new iPod has been updated to match the iPhone 6. The only difference with iPhone 6 and the iPod touch is phone capability.

Windows Phone In A Horse Race

Have you ever watched a horse race with two horses running neck to neck while a third horse lags far behind? Yea, that third horse is Windows Phone, trailing behind the iPhone and the Android by a wide margin.

It’s hard enough to play second fiddle. How much more a third wheel. I think the sooner the better it is for Microsoft to realize that this gap is too wide to make up to make this a competitive race.

Dropping out of the race might be a smarter option for Microsoft, but then again smart choices and Microsoft sometimes don’t belong in the same sentence. Microsoft has made many flopped ventures. Who hasn’t!

Clearly this is a two-horse race, and it’s not changing anytime soon.

I Found A Phone At the Bar

This story has been around for a few days, but it’s worth noting. Yet, another Apple employee has inadvertently left an iPhone prototype at a bar in San Francisco. Apparently, the police are helping out Apple retrieve the phone.

The poor sap who snagged the phone, it’s probably a phone you don’t want to mess around with, because it contains a company top secrets. If found, the last thing you want is having your hands caught in a cookie jar. All the more reason to return stuff that’s not yours.

If Apple is so worried about secrecy, then they shouldn’t let employees carry it around. At least, not the careless ones, because there’s always that possibility of misplacing it. Conveniently at a bar, of course.

Unless, Apple wants to leak it. That idea came to mind, but it defies all sorts of logic.

What about the GPS? Doesn’t every smartphone have that feature nowadays? I’m sure they can track the phone if they really want to. Unless, the person who found it turned it off. Of course.

Well, you can blame Apple and the employee that had too much to drink, for the whole fiasco. It’s careless, if you ask me. Especially for top secret stuff.

Well, I have the phone.

It’s black. It has no marking. No trademarks. Nothing. But, it contain bells and whistles, nice dials, and a crank for starting the app. I say incorporating the smiley face was a brilliant move.

Here’s the photo.

State of the art!

Maybe this whole fiasco is not much ado about nothing. Perhaps, it’s just another brilliant ploy and marketing from Apple. We are all fools.

Angry Birds Owes iPhone

Rovio’s highly popular game Angry Birds has been downloaded 140 million times since its first release 16 months ago. Rovio can thank the iPhone for paving the way for its high popularity. Part of the appeal for the game is the game’s simplicity. It’s a simple idea of knocking down structures and solving a puzzle. It has enough challenge to make it interesting for kids and adults.

The other factor for its popularity is the price. The game is a mere $5 to download. It’s peanuts compared to highly-priced games available for the XBox 360 and PS2. The follow up Rio version sells for only a dollar. Rovio is also available for Android, Windows and Playstation. Where’s the love for Linux? In addition, Rovio is now pushing the game to China.

Rovio can thank the iPhone and its App Store partly for its success.

Kindle for the Mac

I was browsing the Apple App Store the other night, and I came across an application called “Kindle” for the Mac. And, it’s free. So, I downloaded the application and installed it. Amazon recently made the “Kindle Apps” available to anyone with a smartphone and a computer. You don’t need a Kindle device.

Kindle Apps will work on the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and the Windows 7 phone. If you own a Kindle, you can synch any of the Kindle Apps to work in conjunction with your Kindle device. So, Kindle owners are now able to read the books they’ve purchased, not only in the Kindle devices, but also on their computers and smartphones.

The Kindle app for the Mac comes empty. There are no books. You will need to download the books from Amazon’s website. To download, just click on the “Shop in Kindle Store” link on the top hand right corner of the window. You can purchase thousands of books, including the latest releases, as well as download all the free public domain books that are available.

If you already own a Kindle, you just have to register the application with your Amazon credentials. To synch the books you’ve already purchased, you just login and the application will download all your books. It will also remember the last page you’ve read as well as synch any annotations you have created on your Kindle device.

I downloaded two free books, the Art of War by Sunzi and The Adventures of Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can see reading on the Kindle can be an expensive hobby. Reading electronically does have it’s distinct advantages. At least, you don’t have to lug around a book everywhere you go.

Verizon’s iPhone Arrival Is Not So Perfect

Verizon plans to announce today the arrival of the iPhone. But, the scenario not quite perfect as everyone thought it would be. Verizon plans to run the iPhone 4 on its ‘3G’ network, and not on the faster ‘4G’ network. It’s disappointing if you ask me. To make matters worse, the timing of it is not quite so ideal. Let me explain.

The next generation of iPhones, the iPhone 5, will probably be released later this summer. It would be nice if the iPhone 5 coincides with Verizon release later this month, but we all know that will not happen. Can Verizon wait until summer? One problem. Rumor has it that Verizon will not have access to the iPhone 5 until the end of the year, which gives AT&T a six month advantage.

I’m sure Verizon’s executives are not happy with this scenario. But, they don’t really have a choice, it’s either release it now or at wait until the end of the year. And waiting until the end of the year is not really an option. So, reports of the demise of AT&T, in terms of losing million of users to Verizon, is far from becoming reality.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s the deal that Apple wanted with both carriers. It was really meant to be this way. It satisfies both carriers, without sacrificing the other.

iPhone Coming To A Verizon Near You

Will the iPhone finally come to Verizon near you? This rumor has been circulating for years. Is it finally coming true? I can’t believe, that it has been 3 1/2 years since the iPhone was introduced with AT&T as sole partner in June 2007. How time flies. Apple and Verizon plan to announce on Tuesday the new partnership. No details yet. No plans. No prices. I guess we will find out more about it on Tuesday.

Based on early analyst estimates, Apple will likely add 9 to 12 million new iPhone users on Verizon’s network. The figure will probably equal the number of iPhone units sold via AT&T this past year, estimated to be around 14.5 million units. Does this mean iPhone users will double in 2011? By the looks of it, based on estimates, it probably will.

Will see a max exodus of AT&T users switching over to Verizon? Probably not. After all, it’s not always easy to get out of a contract. Remember, AT&T increased the early termination fee to $325 last year and $10 extra for each month. People would think twice before getting out their current contract. In addition, AT&T also cut the iPhone 3GS phones from $99 to $49 last week. I think AT&T will be fine.