Hardware Hacking

Apple Bans iFixit Repair App From App Store After Apple TV Teardown 366

alphadogg writes: iFixit, the fix-it-yourself advocate for users of Apple, Google and other gear, has had its repair manual app banned from Apple's App Store after it conducted an unauthorized teardown of Apple TV and Siri remote. iFixit blogged "we're a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA -- and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway." iFixit does still have Windows and Android apps, and has no immediate plans to rewrite its Apple app to attempt being reinstated.

Apple Admits iCloud Problem Has Killed iOS 9 'App Slicing' 143

Mark Wilson writes: One of the key features of iOS 9 — and one of the reasons 16GB iPhones were not killed — is app slicing. This innocuous-sounding feature reduces the amount of space apps take up on iPhones and iPads... or at least it does when it is working. At the moment Apple has a problem with iCloud which is preventing app slicing from working correctly. The feature works by only downloading the components of an app that are needed to perform specific tasks on a particular device, but at the moment regular, universal apps are delivered by default.

Number of XcodeGhost-Infected iOS Apps Rises 169

An anonymous reader writes: As the list of apps infected with the XcodeGhost malware keeps expanding, Apple, Amazon and Baidu are doing their best to purge their online properties of affected apps, malicious Xcode installers, and C&C servers used by the attackers to gather the stolen information and control the infected apps/devices. China-based jailbreaking Pangu Team claims that the number of infected app is higher than 3,400, and have offered for download a free app that apparently detects the Trojanized apps.

Apple Cleaning Up App Store After Its First Major Attack 246

Reuters reports that Apple is cleaning up hundreds of malicious iOS apps after what is described as the first major attack on its App Store. Hundreds of the stores apps were infected with malware called XcodeGhost, which used as a vector a counterfeit version of iOS IDE Xcode. Things could be a lot worse, though: Palo Alto Networks Director of Threat Intelligence Ryan Olson said the malware had limited functionality and his firm had uncovered no examples of data theft or other harm as a result of the attack. Still, he said it was "a pretty big deal" because it showed that the App Store could be compromised if hackers infected machines of software developers writing legitimate apps. Other attackers may copy that approach, which is hard to defend against, he said.

One Day After iOS 9's Launch, Ad Blockers Top Apple's App Store 241

HughPickens.com writes: Sarah Perez reports at TechCrunch that only one day after the release of Apple's newly released version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9, ad blockers are topping the charts in the App Store and it seems that new iOS 9 users are thrilled to have access to this added functionality. The Top Paid iOS app is the new ad-blocker Peace, a $2.99 download from Instapaper founder Marco Arment. Peace currently supports a number of exclusive features that aren't found in other blockers yet. Most notably, it uses Ghostery's more robust blocklist, which Arment licensed from the larger company by offering them a percentage of the app's revenue. "I can't believe how many trackers are on popular sites," says Arment. "I can't believe how fast the web is without them." Other ad blockers are also topping the paid app chart as of today, including the Purify Blocker (#3), Crystal (#6), Blockr (#12). (Ranks as of the time of writing.) With the arrival of these apps, publishers and advertisers are fretting about the immediate impact to their bottom lines and business, which means they'll likely soon try to find ways to sneak around the blockers. In that case, it should be interesting to see which of the apps will be able to maintain their high degree of ad blocking over time.

It's no surprise that advertisers and publishers who make their money from advertising aren't exactly fans of blockers. What is surprising is that no one seemed to disagree with the argument that online ads have gotten out of control. "I think if we don't acknowledge that, we'd be fools," says Scott Cunningham, "So does that mean ad blockers are good or right? Absolutely not. Do we have an accountability and responsibility to address these things? Absolutely — and there's a lot that we're doing now." Harry Kargman agrees that in many cases, online ads have created "a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective." At the same time, Kargman says that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, "That's stealing. It's no different than ripping music. It's no different than pirating movies."

Apple's First Android App, Move To iOS, Is Getting Killed With One-Star Reviews 206

An anonymous reader writes: Apple today launched Move to iOS, the company's first Android app built in-house. As we noted earlier, "It should surprise no one that the first app Apple built for Android helps you ditch the platform." The fact that the app is getting flooded with one-star reviews is not particularly surprising, either. At the time of publication, the app has an average rating of 1.8. The larger majority (almost 79 percent) are one-star reviews, followed by five-star reviews (almost 19 percent).

Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy 94

An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."

Ask Slashdot: How Should Devs Deal With Trademark Trolls? 99

An anonymous reader writes: I'll start off by admitting that trademark infringement wasn't something that was on my mind when I released my first application. Like many other developers I was concentrating on functionality, errors, and getting the thing published. I did a cursory Google search and search of the app stores to make sure no other apps were using the same name, but that's about the extent of my efforts to avoid trademark infringement. After all, I'm spending hundreds of hours of my own time to make an app that I'm giving away with the hopes to make some ad money or sell paid versions down the road. Hiring a lawyer for advice and help didn't seem like a reasonable expenditure since I'm pretty sure my income per hour of coding was under $1 for the first year or two. Besides, it's something I do on the side because I enjoy coding, not for my main source of income.

My first app was published in early 2010. I followed up with a paid version, then a couple other small apps that perform functions I wanted on my phone. I continue to maintain my apps and offer bug fixes, user support, and the occasional feature request. My income isn't tremendous, but it's steady. Nothing to brag about, but also not something I'd willingly give up.

Earlier this year I got a notice from Google that someone had submitted a takedown request for one of my applications based on a trademark infringement claim."
(Read on below for the rest of the story, and the question.)
Open Source

LibreOffice Now Available On Apple's Mac App Store 132

sfcrazy writes: It's an event of historical magnitude: One of the most popular Open Source projects, LibreOffice, is now available directly from Apple's Mac App Store. You can get LibreOffice on OSX with automatic updates, long-term maintenance, and optional professional support, for the first time. There are two editions of LibreOffice available on the Mac App Store: LibreOffice from Collabora and LibreOffice Vanilla. While the Vanilla edition can be downloaded free of cost, LO from Collabora has a price tag of $10. "Free through the App store" is an implicit endorsement that plain old "free" can't beat, even taking open-source licensing out of the picture.

Amazon Pulls Kodi Media Player From App Store Over Piracy Claims 122

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Kodi media player (formerly XBMC) has had its app pulled from the Amazon app store after Amazon decided that it facilitates piracy. Amazon said, "Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program," and directed the development team not to resubmit the app. The team was surprised to hear this, since Kodi itself does not download or link to any infringing content. It does support addons, and some users have created addons to support pirated content, but the Kodi developers are fighting that behavior. XBMC Foundation board member Nathan Betzen said it's absurd that "Amazon won’t let us into their appstore, but they have no problem selling the boxes that are pushing the reason they won’t let us into their app store."

Adblock Plus Launches Adblock Browser: a Fork of Firefox For Android 111

An anonymous reader writes: Adblock Plus has launched Adblock Browser for Android. Currently in beta, the company's first browser was created by taking the open source Firefox for Android and including Adblock Plus out-of-the-box. The Firefox Sync functionality is disabled, as is the ability to use other addons. "Adblock Plus for Android got kicked out of Google Play along with other ad blocking apps in March 2013, because Google’s developer distribution agreement states apps cannot interfere with the functionality of other apps. Williams thus believes Adblock Browser “should be fine” as it only blocks ads that are shown as you browse the Web."

Google Is Too Slow At Clearing Junkware From the Chrome Extension Store 45

Mark Wilson writes Malware is something computer users — and even mobile and tablet owners — are now more aware of than ever. That said, many people do not give a second thought to installing a browser extension to add new features to their most frequently used application. Despite the increased awareness, malware is not something a lot of web users think of in relation to extensions; but they should.

Since the beginning of 2015 — just over three months — Google has already received over 100,000 complaints from Chrome users about 'ad injectors' hidden in extensions. Security researchers have also discovered that a popular extension — Webpage Screenshot — includes code that could be used to send browsing history back to a remote server. Google is taking steps to clean up the extension store to try to prevent things like this happening, but security still needs to be tightened up.

Apple Leaves Chinese CNNIC Root In OS X and iOS Trusted Stores 100

Trailrunner7 writes When it was revealed late last month that a Chinese certificate authority had allowed an intermediate CA to issue unauthorized certificates for some Google domains, both Google and Mozilla reacted quickly and dropped trust in CNNIC altogether. Apple on Wednesday released major security upgrades for both of its operating systems, and the root certificate for CNNIC, the Chinese CA at the heart of the controversy, remains in the trusted stores for iOS and OS X. The company has not made any public statements on the incident or the continued inclusion of CNNIC's certificates in the trusted stores.

Popular Android Package Uses Just XOR -- and That's Not the Worst Part 277

siddesu writes A popular "encryption" package for Android that even charges a yearly subscription fee of $8 actually does nothing more than give a false sense of security to its users. Not only is the app using a worthless encryption method, it also uses weak keys and "encrypts" only a small portion of the files. One wonders how much snake oil flows through the app stores, from "battery savers" to "antivirus." What is the most worthless app purchase you made? Did you ask for a refund?

Developers and the Fear of Apple 269

An anonymous reader writes: UI designer Eli Schiff has posted an article about the "climate of fear" surrounding Apple in the software development community. He points out how developers who express criticism in an informal setting often recant when their words are being recorded, and how even moderate public criticism is often prefaced by flattery and endorsements.

Beyond that, the industry has learned that they can't rely on Apple's walled garden to make a profit. The opaque app review process, the race to the bottom on pricing, and Apple's resistance to curation of the App Store are driving "independent app developers into larger organizations and venture-backed startups." Apple is also known to cut contact with developers if they release for Android first. The "climate of fear" even affects journalists, who face not only stonewalling from Apple after negative reporting, but also a brigade of Apple fans and even other journalists trying to paint them as anti-Apple.

Fraudulent Apps Found In Apple's Store 89

snydeq writes Angry support queries citing problems with mystery iOS apps has led InfoWorld's Simon Phipps to discover the existence of several scamware apps in Apple's App Store. "If you're a scammer looking to make a fast buck, it appears that [Apple's App Store] process can be defeated," Phipps reports. "The questions originated from a support link for a $2.99 app in Apple's iTunes Store," which pointed angry customers to the Apache OpenOffice community, which doesn't even have an iOS app. The app in question, Quickoffice Pro, "simply displays a gray screen with the word Tap. When you tap the screen, the app exits." Further investigation has uncovered two other scam apps thus far.

Apple Swaps "Get" Button For "Free" To Avoid Confusion Over In-App Purchases 103

New submitter lazarus (2879) writes Apple is falling in line with the European Commission's request that app sellers do more to stop inadvertent in-app purchases. Following Google's lead, Cupertino has removed all instances of the word "free" within its iOS and Mac app stores (with the exception of its own apps, like iMovie), and replaced them with the term "Get." The new label clarifies what users can expect when downloading an app. Apps previously labeled as "Free" will now have a "Get" label. If those apps include in-app purchases, a small gray "In-App Purchase" label will appear below the "Get" button.

Android Apps Now Unofficially Able To Run On Any Major Desktop OS 101

An anonymous reader writes A developer who goes by the handle Vladikoff has tweaked Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) to allow any Android app to run on any major desktop operating system, not just the handful announced last week which were also limited to Chrome OS. His tweaked version of ARC is re-packaged as ARChon. The install isn't very straightforward, and you have to be in developer mode on Chrome. But there's a support forum on reddit. The extension will work on any OS running the desktop version of Chrome 37 and up as long as the user also installs chromeos-apk, which converts raw Android app packages (APKs) to a Chrome extension. Ars Technica reports that apps run this way are buggy, fast, and crash often but expresses optimism for when Google officially "opens the floodgates on the Play Store, putting 1.3 million Android apps onto nearly every platform."

Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices 610

Zanadou writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2's latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it's also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time. Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn't chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an "iTunes in the Cloud" purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your "iTunes in the Cloud" purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list. Other reactions include rapper Tyler, The Creator saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was like waking up with an STD. Update: 09/16 15:06 GMT by T : Note: Apple has released a fix.

Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps 132

mrspoonsi writes One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don't. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store's iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. "Before you develop your app, it's important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps," explains Apple on a new webpage called "Common App Rejections." Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.