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Apple’s Love/Hate Relationship With iOS Jailbreaking

June 13th, 2012 06:00 admin View Comments

This week, as developers converge on San Francisco to find out what’s next for Apple’s hardware and platforms, there’s another discussion going on in the background: What does iOS 6 mean for the jailbreak community? Did Apple borrow any ideas this time? How soon will we see an untethered jailbreak for iOS 6? 

The relationship between Apple and the developers who seek to crack wide open its mobile ecosystem is complicated. On one hand, the Cupertino giant implicitly discourages the practice of jailbreaking by voiding the warranties of any devices that appear to have undergone the procedure. In its support documentation, Apple “strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks the iOS.” 

Yet at the same time, Apple hasn’t been shy at borrowing heavily from the jailbreaking community – whether it be in the form of ideas or actual developers. 

One of the more well-known examples of Apple’s idea-nabbing came last year in iOS 5. Notification Center, one of that update’s most beloved features, bore a striking resemblance to a feature that was already available on jailbroken devices. Not only did Apple appear to lift the feature, but it also nabbed the developer responsible for creating it in the first place. In June 2011, Peter Hajas started working at Apple‘s headquarters in Cupertino. 

A number of different tools have been available for jailbreaking iOS, but by far the easiest one to use was the browser-based, now-defunct JailbreakMe. Last year, its creator Nicholas Allegra (better known as Comex) made headlines when he started an internship with Apple, making him the fourth well-known jailbreak developer to work for the company. 

Some of the formerly jailbreak-only features that have found their way into iOS over time include multitasking, lock screen widgets, personal hotspots, WiFi syncing to iTunes, copy and paste, and folders for apps. Even the notion of running apps on the iPhone was familiar to jailbroken users by the time Apple officially unveiled its own App Store. 

While some iOS hackers resent having their hard work copied without credit, not everyone sees it that way.

“Personally, I have no issues with that,” says Cydia creator Jay Freeman. “If the feature is good, then Apple should integrate it.” 

Despite its official disapproval of jailbreaking, the practice does provide something of an experimental ecosystem from which Apple can draw lessons without exposing its larger customer base to apps and features that may be unpopular or not entirely polished.

In Apple’s preview of iOS 6 yesterday, we saw a few more examples of features that jailbroken users have enjoyed for some time. FaceTime over 3G, pull-to-refresh in Mail, “do not disturb” mode and the ability to post social updates from Notification Center are just a handful of examples. On Twitter, many users openly wondered whether it was worth keeping their device jailbroken since so many of their favorite tweaks seemed to be included in iOS 6. 

For their part, the iOS hackers aren’t wasting any time cracking open the new operating system, or at least trying. Within 24 hours of the iOS 6 developer beta being made available, jailbreak hacker MuscleNerd succeeded in completing at least a partial jailbreak of it. 

Despite this speedy progress, a publicly available, untethered jailbreak for iOS 6 may still be a ways off. That’s because Apple has apparently fixed some of the bugs that made the current breed of jailbreak tools possible, and as MuscleNerd tweeted, Cydia doesn’t work on iOS 6. 

As for whether Apple has a death wish for the practice of jailbreaking, Freeman is skeptical. The company hasn’t been quick to act, even though iOS 5 supports over-the-air (OTA) updates that would make it very easy to do so.   

“It would be possible for Apple to pretty quickly squelch things like Absinthe,” says Freeman. “When the tool is released, find and fix even just one of the numerous bugs it uses, and push out an OTA.”

It will undoubtedly be a very busy summer for iOS developers of all stripes.    

 

Lead photo by Stephen Heywood.

Source: Apple’s Love/Hate Relationship With iOS Jailbreaking

Top 10 Feed & RSS Technologies of 2011

December 18th, 2011 12:02 admin View Comments

BestOf2011.pngNews and activity feeds are more alive today than ever before, even as engagement with their simplest format, Really Simple Syndication (RSS), appears to be waning. What were the Top 10 Most Awesome RSS & Feed Products of 2011? We offer our list below. Though some of these weren’t born in the past year, all of them have made a big impact and are thoroughly awesome.

Anyone with an interest in competitive knowledge work should be aware of and give some thought to these applications. We’d love to hear your thoughts on others in comments below, too, readers. I’ve put the following 10 in a particular order: from the most geeky to the most mainstream.

10. AppNotifications

Fabien Penso’s fabulous iPhone push notification app released a 3.0 version this year, but it’s just the nice clean basics that make this one a winner. Input any feed, or many other sources of information, and Penso’s app will push it to your phone in real time. It works really, really well and is better than ever with the introduction of the Apple Notification Center in iOS5. A double digit percentage of the stories I reported on this year came from feeds I consumed in this app. See also: BoxCar and Notifo.

9. iftt

If This Then That is a point and click mashup maker that lets you do all kinds of things with feeds of information and multiple applications. It’s loads of fun, though some high-volume RSS feeds seem to overwhelm it. I wish it worked with AppNotifications above, or UrbanAirship. The ifttt recipe that pushes my Foursquare check-ins into my Google Calendar like a diary entry? That’s awesome. Ifttt was recently funded by Betaworks, a story I was able to break because of another awesome feed bot – the Neubot VC portfolio tracker.

8. Flipboard

The feed reader your parents always wished you’d bring home, Flipboard finally released its iPhone version this Fall after more than a year of dominating the iPad magazine reader app market. Competitor Zite is nice and was acquired by CNN, Google’s new Currents is ok, Yahoo’s competitor is not so great and others are floating around too. Flipboard puts a premium on design though and wins as a result. Adoption of its new iPhone app has been breathtaking. The best way to enjoy Flipboard, though, is to populate it with a great Twitter list.

summifyscreen2.png7. Summify

The computer science nerds behind iPhone app Summify have done a great job combining social engineering, smart algorithms and nice design to solve the information overload problem. If you haven’t seen Summify, you should check it out. It feels related to the iPad’s News.me, which is a strong contender for this spot in the list as well.

6. Path

The story behind Path seems downright smug – the company’s founders reportedly turned down $100 million from Google before even launching and they walk through the wasteland of social networking healing the sick with their mere touch, but the latest version of the app is undeniably fantastic. It’s like Facebook Mobile meets Instagram meets Foursquare meets Gowalla meets better design than any of the above. Expect to see a giant pile of apps try to model their design after Path’s in the next year. It’s a great presentation of an activity feed. It’s the kind of thing that nerds and noobs can all love, too.

5. Percolate

“Percolate turns brands into curators,” this new startup says. Marketers love this service and it seems to have done a great job of discovering feeds full of content and making them easy for Percolate users to add to and capture value from.

4. Feedly

Feedly rides on top of your Google Reader subscriptions and provides a great cross-platform feed reading experience on web, mobile and tablets. When you’re ready to stop messing around with filters, social, recommendations, etc. and you just want to stand in front of a pipe of feeds you subscribed to yourself, Feedly is a great way to do it. (Disclosure: The author did a small amount of consulting for Feedly on launch strategy but has no ongoing financial interest in the company, beyond a glowing endorsement of said consulting services. Sorry, but it’s still a feed app that lots of people love.)

3. New Twitter Interactions

Love or hate the #newnewTwitter just launched at the end of this year, the new Interactions tab on web and mobile is a great big nod to activity feeds. It’s very cool to see all the relevant activity surfaced with regard to your content: you’ve been replied to, favorited, added to a list, retweeted. Putting all of that in one big feed is really nice and is probably one of the biggest feed changes that tens of millions of people are going to engage with next year. That will make it one of the biggest, except for…

2. The Facebook Timeline

Facebook’s new Timeline feature looks at all the activities you’ve published into the site since creating your account and it surfaces the highlights by analyzing social activity around each event. It’s awesome, if a little frightening. Now that hundreds of millions of people will become familiar with this kind of presentation around their data, they’ll be all the more ready for…

1. Facebook Seamless Sharing

The biggest thing in feeds for 2011 is clearly Facebook’s Seamless Sharing, or Open Graph Protocol. I think the way the company implemented the paradigm is risky, irresponsible and wrong. But it’s going to pave the way for a wholly instrumented world. Today the music you listen to is streamed into your social network and profile (unless you opt-out) and in the future almost everything else you do with a machine will be, too. Every machine you use will be network-connected and will publish data onto the web. Remember when Facebook hired “my year in review” infographic artists Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case this Spring? Their work appeared in the aforementioned Facebook Timeline, but they and their thinking will help build dashboards we use to track our home electricity usage, our debit card activity, our exercise, our travel and a whole lot more in the future. It will all be pushed automatically into the network too, just like Facebook’s Seamless Sharing.

Hopefully Facebook can move this ball forward in a way that allows users to make clear, informed decisions how to participate – odds of that aren’t great – but either way it’s likely to happen. And it’s going to be very big.

Those are my list of the Top 10 Feed Technologies in 2011 – what do you think? What should be included? Is there too much Facebook here? Please share your comments below.

Disclosure: The author is building an unlaunched startup related to this sector; it may either compete or collaborate with any number of the above companies. Except Facebook, it doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook.

Source: Top 10 Feed & RSS Technologies of 2011

Untethered Jailbreak For iOS 5 is Coming Any Day Now

December 10th, 2011 12:30 admin View Comments

apple-rainbow.jpgOwners of iPads, iPhones and iPods running the latest version of iOS have not yet had the option to jailbreak their devices in a way that’s at all worth the trouble. For those who are dying to break free of Apple’s restrictions, an untethered jailbreak appears to be on the way.

On Friday, France-based iOS hacker @pod2g uploaded a video showing that he was successful in jailbreaking iOS 5.0.1 running on his iPhone 3G. This came about a month after he announced on Twitter that he had discovered a bug in iOS 5 that would make a jailbreak possible.

Jailbreaking is not something a majority of iPhone owners do, but for a certain subset of users who like to customize their device and download apps that might be perfectly useful, but wouldn’t survive Apple’s rigid app submission requirements.

Currently, a tethered jailbreak does exist, but such a method requires the user to plug their iPhone, iPad or iPod into their computer every time the device gets rebooted. For those who can’t tolerate living within Apple’s boundaries it may suffice, but for the average user, it’s a bit too inconvenient to be worth it.

Why Jailbreak Your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch?

For something that is technically forbidden by Apple, the jailbreaking community sure does seem to heavily influence the company’s official software releases. Jailbreaking iOS 3 brought the ability to shoot video, add custom backgrounds and upload to YouTube. All of those things ended up in iOS 4, among much else. Similarly, jailbreaking iOS 4 meant even more customization and an all-in-one notification center that looks curiously similar to the one that ended up being included in iOS 5.

There are certain things that Apple is unlikely to ever embrace. The ability to tether one’s iPhone to their laptop and piggyback on its Internet connection for free is one of them.

Other reasons to jailbreak iOS devices include the option to make FaceTime calls over 3G, unlock the phone from its original carrier, block phone calls and texts and download any number of unauthorized apps. Want to play old school video games on an NES emulator? Open your phone using facial recognition instead of a password? Fit more apps into folders? Customize colors and other design details? All of this is possible on a jailbroken device, and developers are banging out new apps all the time.

It doesn’t come without its downsides, however. By casting aside Apple’s restrictions, you also forgo the tight security of the App Store and the likelihood of inadvertently installing malware on your device is increased. When Apple releases new versions of the OS, you’ll have to forgo updating to it or give up the jailbroken lifestyle until a new solution is released.

Source: Untethered Jailbreak For iOS 5 is Coming Any Day Now

How To Change Color Of iOS 5 Notification Center

November 24th, 2011 11:12 admin View Comments

How To Change Color Of iOS 5 Notification Center

November 24th, 2011 11:12 admin View Comments

biteSMS For iOS 5 Brings QuickCompose To iOS 5 Notification Center

November 16th, 2011 11:43 admin View Comments

IntelliScreenX Public Beta Released; Jailbreak App Revamps Notification Center

October 29th, 2011 10:24 admin View Comments

WeeFlashlight: iOS 5 Notification Center Custom Widget Turns Your iPhone Into a Flashlight

October 26th, 2011 10:43 admin View Comments

WeeSpaces: Custom Widget Brings Multitasking Feature To iOS 5 Notification Center

October 24th, 2011 10:42 admin View Comments

QuickNote And QuickMemo Custom Widgets Allow You To Take Notes From iOS 5 Notification Center

October 22nd, 2011 10:20 admin View Comments
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