DOJ: Apple owns your iPhone’s software, so it should have a backdoor

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A fancy phone or a budget mobile? It’s your call.

The Apple iPhone 6s Plus (128GB) is clearly the most expensive smartphone in the Indian market if you take Vertu and other such luxury brands out of the picture. BBC Washington – Apple has said that encrypted data on newer iPhones can’t be accessed, even by Apple, though the firm could in theory help police unlock older phones.

Google, who’s Android operating system enjoys more than 80 percent global smartphone market share, is pushing even further by launching not only a new mobile version of Android, but also two new Google branded phones and a new Google phone service called Project Fi. A few days ago, the company told a federal judge in the US that ‘in most cases now and in the future’ it would be impossible for it to access data on password-protected iPhones – for ‘devices running iOS 8 or higher, Apple would not have the technical ability to … take possession of a password protected device from the government and extract unencrypted user data from that device for the government’, Apple said since the security features were such that the passwords were generated by the phone itself. I’ve had a chance to try Google’s new 5.7-inch Nexus 6P and 5.2-inch Nexus 5X as well as its new Project Fi service that provides talk, text and data via cellular and WiFi and, I pretty much like what I’ve seen. In a debate with the National Security Agency’s director Michael Rogers, Apple CEO Tim Cook was quite forthright and said ‘you can’t have a back door in the software, because you can’t have a back door that’s only for the good guys’. There is a reasonably large market for expensive phones, driven by people who want a top-end device for its performance, dependability or just flaunt value.

US magistrate Judge James Orenstein, of Brooklyn in New York, has scheduled a hearing for Thursday though it is not clear whether an Apple representative will be present. Several other US firms like Google and Microsoft, and some of America’s top cryptographers have echoed the same message, of millions of Americans being vulnerable to hackers if tech firms were required to either provide ‘back doors’ for the government or provide access to their source code or encryption keys – it is also true that several of these firms have billions of dollars of business riding on their ability to secure people’s data. But this issue was largely resolved thanks to a feature in iOS called “reachability” that brings apps closer to the middle of the screen after double tapping the home button. Let me tell you this is the most relaxed I have felt with a a phone in a long time, primarily because I am not glancing at the battery icon every 10 minutes to see how long I have to go and I am not entering a new place with a recce of the power point. While intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported, are understandably upset at what FBI chief James Comey called the ‘going dark’ problem, the fact is the US government appears to be buying their argument.

Adrian Weckler looks at the main issues involved with changing your phone and picks the best models for differing budgets These days, you either get an iPhone or an Android phone. According to NYT, the Obama administration has backed down on its dispute on seeking encrypted data since this could create an opportunity that China and others, including cybercriminals and terrorists, could exploit. It also has one of the best cameras in the business and, of course, an overall experience that showcases the power of its processor and robustness of the platform. We should be smart enough to do both.” The data encrypting services that come with the latest smartphone and computer operating systems can only be unlocked when a specific key is used, according to Dr Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute. “Apple may supply the device and system but if they don’t have that key they’re not able to unlock it any more than the US state department,” he told the BBC. The draft encryption policy, hastily withdrawn after civil society ripped into it last month, seemed heavily influenced by the intelligence agencies’ needs and, for instance, required users of even WhatsApp type of services to keep their messages for 90 days and, if required by law, make them available to the government.

Yes the new iPhone is meant to be stronger and more durable than the previous version, but I’ve smashed a caseless-iPhone before and it cost me a few hundred dollars to repair. Samsung is the biggest of these brands, but not necessarily the best. (See ‘The Magnificent Seven’ panel for specific recommendations.) For total beginners, Android phones and iPhones look and feel fairly similar. This can be done by getting the user to voluntarily give up the key or by installing malware on the user’s phone that snoops on the key as it is typed in. “The core encryption is as near to unbreakable as you can get,” he said. “The point is you don’t try to break the encryption, you break the software – you try to get the password from the user’s computer so you can unlock it.” In another privacy-conscious step, Apple also recently removed more than 250 apps from the app store which used Chinese advertising software to extract personally identifiable information about users. Another issue I noticed was that sometimes when I wanted to go back to the previous web page in Safari it just kept refreshing the same page I was on. The phone also feels a bit thicker than its predecessor. 3D TOUCH: This is for sure the cutting edge feature everyone is looking forward to in the new iPhones.

But if a smartphone would simply intimidate them (leading to non-use), look to options such as Doro’s PhoneEasy models (€90 to €100 prepay with Vodafone and 3 Ireland). After uninstalling the app, which has a known issue with it at the moment, I often ended up with 30 to 50 per cent battery left at about 11pm most days (after taking it off charge at about 8am).

To use an analogy that will find takers among my Malayali brethren and Bengali friends, it is almost the same pressure you exert to figure out if that fish lying on the bed of ice is fresh. This press activates the Peek and leads to a preview on mail, open quick options on compatible apps and gives you options when you get a link on iMessage. Where I live there is no T-Mobile service, moderately OK Sprint and really fast WiFi which means when I’m home, the phone is connecting through WiFi to give me great call quality and fast data.

Of these, the top models from Sony and Samsung are marginally the best cameraphones available right now, although the upcoming iPhone 6S camera should bring Apple level. I am moving to the iPhone after a series of Android phones that touted great cameras — the OnePlus 2, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and Samsung Galaxy Note 5. But if you go over your allotment you pay only for what you use at the same rate of $10 per gigabyte and if you use less than you pay for, they credit you for what you didn’t use. However, the catch is that for now you cannot view these photos outside the Apple ecosystem and we will need to wait for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to come up with support for this new format.

What I like best is the fact that pictures look natural in the end and not over-saturated and over-processed as it ends up being on many Android phones. And the best thing here is that the phone recognises the ambient light and calibrates the screen with it so that the flash looks natural and you do not end up looking like that image on your voter ID card. I found this new feature so intuitive I wished it was integrated into more apps and functions — and I’m talking native Apple apps here, not third-party apps, which have yet to widely adopt it. The 6s Plus comes with a 12-megapixel back-facing camera and 5 megapixel front-facing camera and, unlike the smaller 6s, it also includes optical image stabilisation. The only thing to bear in mind is that getting a subsidised phone (‘free’ or ‘just €99’) with a contract is almost always more expensive than buying your phone outright and getting a sim card for the same service.

By default it did not have full-disk encryption enabled, and often it was not updated by my manufacturer or telco until several months after Google put out an update. The Sony Xperia Z2, the first to come out with 4K recording, was a great camera in its time, but would shut down due to overheating in a minute or so.

As for apps, as I’ve written previously, it seems third party developers pay more attention to their iOS apps and update them faster than their Android apps. Yes you can customise more on Android and add widgets to your screen, which can be handy, especially if you want to keep track of your data usage without opening an app.

Here’s where I’m going to get all Android on your arse, because aside from 3D Touch there’s little difference between the 6s and the 6 in terms of apps and interface, so long as both are running iOS 9. However, there is one aspect of Android that I love and have not really been able to experience on the iOS device, at least not natively, and that is Google Now. The enrolment process takes a bit longer than other phones I’ve used, requiring you to put your finger on the scanner several times at different angles. I think it is time Apple plugged this gap, especially since Apple maps is reasonably good and there are other data sources it can tap into for accurate data.

Live Photos — those moving photos popularised by Nokia — are also interesting, but I turned them off to reduce the amount of space they chew up in memory. While speed and a better fingerprint scanner are noticeable pluses in my day-to-day use, there’s not really anything “killer” that would force me to upgrade from the iPhone 6.

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