Unlocking your iPhone is finally going to be legal in the U.S. | Cult of Mac

    Today the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that lets customers legally unlock their cell phones and switch carriers. The same bill was passed in the Senate last week, and now President Obama is expected to sign it into law. The process of unlocking a phone to take it to another carrier in the U.S. has been a convoluted and questionably illegal one. The “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” is designed to make the process easier for those looking to take phones to a different service provider. But there’s an important caveat. The bill won’t permit you to unlock your phone mid-contract and take it from, for example, AT&T to Verizon. The goal is to restore “he Library of Congress’s former exemption so that consumers may unlock their phones after their contracts have expired.” (Emphasis added.) That’s right, legal unlocking is only being applied to situations where the life of a carrier contract has been fulfilled and you own the phone outright. A decision by the U.S. Copyright Office in 2012 made it so you to have to ask your carrier’s permission to get your phone unlocked after your contract was up. If this new bill is made into law, the same exemption could be applied to a broader set of devices, including tablets.

Apple debuts iTunes Pass in Japan, allows Passbook-based iTunes credit refills at Apple Stores.

itunes pass

Apple today has launched an interesting new service for iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore users in Japan with iPhones and iPod touches. The new service, called iTunes Pass (no, not thatiTunes Pass), allows users to go to an Apple Store in Japan, purchase credit in-store for the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore, and have that money immediately applied to the Apple ID account instead of needing to receive a gift card and enter a redemption code…

To substitute for a physical gift card, iTunes Pass installs a new pass inside of the iOS Passbook application. The Apple Store employee can scan the pass in order to immediately apply the credit to the Apple account. Users can install the iTunes Pass feature in Passbook on the main screen in the iPhone iTunes Store app. Apple previously opened up the ability for Apple Store gift cards to be stored in Passbook as well as WWDC tickets for its developer conference and iTunes Festival tickets for its free concert series. Here’s Apple’s description of the service, machine translated from Japanese into English:

Use the iTunes Pass, you can now deposit directly to the account of the App Store or iTunes Store you. Go to the iTunes Store in the iOS device you have, if you tap “Use iTunes Card / Code” button and scroll down, you can get the iTunes Pass. 3 Please tell specialist that then, the Apple Store near you, you want to deposit into account. When you open the iTunes Pass from the Passbook, specialists will scan it, and accepts the payment. Balance is updated on the fly, available immediately.

This move by Apple is significant in multiple ways, including for paper conservation and the future of mobile payments. The ability for Apple to add iTunes credit to user accounts via a quick scan of a Passbook pass will likely reduce the amount of physical materials needed to produce gift cards. Second, this feature could be a hint at Apple’s mobile payments plan. Sources previously told usthat Apple is readying an iTunes-based mobile payments service that would integrate with Touch ID and Passbook. Apple Stores rolling out the ability to apply credits to iTunes accounts could be the first practice run for such functionality.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.26.40 PM

While the feature is launching in Japan today, Apple has not yet indicated if the function is planned to come to other countries in the future. Apple rarely launches significant initiatives in just a single region outside of the United States, so perhaps a larger rollout with more countries is not far behind. Another possibility is that Apple is using Japan as a test country for this feature as the region is a major market for Apple, but one with only nine Apple retail stores. Apple has approximately 400 other locations outside of Japan.

Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers.

Last month Apple confirmed that it would soon beef up encryption for iCloud email following a report detailing security flaws in major email services. While Apple previously encrypted emails sent between its own iCloud customers, now the company has enabled encryption for emails in transit between iCloud and third-party services for me.com and mac.com email addresses. 

The change is documented on Google’s transparency websitethat shows the percentage of emails encrypted in transit for both inbound and outbound email exchanges (pictured below):

iCloud-email-encryption

Apple is yet to make an official announcement for the changes.

The change is a welcomed one for users following several media reports noting that Apple was one of the last global email providers based in the US not providing encryption for email between providers. However, there are already reports that Apple’s method of encryption might not be as secure as security experts hoped. A translated report from Heise.de, which examined the new methods of encryption, notes that Apple is using the RC4 encryption algorithm that it claims leaves much to be desired in terms of possible eavesdropping. A security researcher we spoke to said RC4-128 (which is the version of RC4 Apple is believed to be using) is far weaker than AES-128. The researcher also noted there has been suggestions, though not yet proof, that the NSA has broken RC4-128.

We’ve reached out to Apple for a comment on the new encryption methods and will update if we hear back.

Foxconn is ready to release an army of robots to build the iPhone 6.

iRobot_G_08

For years now, Foxconn has been expressing its interest in replacing its workers with robots, raising the possibility that future iPhones could be built with machines. In fact, in December of 2012, Foxconn quietly began testing a program to replace human workers with iPhone-building robots.

But now, it appears that Foxconn is hitting the accelerator on the program. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has just told shareholders that they will be deploying some 10,000 “Foxbots” to start building iPhones soon.

As related in report from IT Home, Gou announced to company shareholders that the deployment of the army of Foxbots in the company’s factories has entered the final testing phase.

According to Gou, each robot can build up to 30,000 devices, and are far more cost-efficient than human workers, costing between $20,000 and $25,000 apiece. No surprise, Apple is said to be the first company to start using the robot workers to make products.

For a company that has fallen under as much scrutiny for human rights abuses as Foxconn has, the possibility of replacing humans with robots has to be a tempting. Yet by most accounts, Apple and Foxconn’s efforts at reforms have been largely successful.

That makes the prospect of Foxconn factory workers losing their jobs to modified T-800’s all the more sad to contemplate. Now more than ever, a Foxconn job might be the best job they can hope for.

Apple Opens Factory Outlet Store on eBay to Sell Refurbished iPhones.

It appears Apple has again teamed up with online auction site eBay to setup a low-profile “Factory Outlet” store to sell Apple Certified Refurbished devices. The devices, iPhone 5s models are currently the only devices listed for sale, offer full one-year Apple warranties at attractive prices.

Apple-ebay_store

The store front, discovered by AppleInsider over the weekend (1, 2, 3 — thanks, Max), is dubbed the “Factory Outlet eBay Store” and currently lists about half dozen factory restored and unlocked GSM iPhone 5 models for between $449 and $499.

While there are no specific markings or language on the eBay storefront to suggest Apple is involved, it does include many of the indicators from the iOS device maker’s 2013 partnership with eBay to sell refurbished iPads. Among the indicators are the “Apple Certified” iPhone 5s marked as “exclusive” to the eBay Factory store.

The devices also come with a full one-year Apple warranty, and they are listed as having been completely restored, burn-in tested and professionally repackaged with a “final quality inspection performed by Apple.”

Apple made a similar move in March of 2013 when it launched a Apple Certified Refurbished Products Store that sold refurbished iPads for $100 less than were available on Apple’s own online store. That storefront disappeared from eBay before the 2013 iPad product launch.

Current Factory Outlet eBay Store Listings:
64GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $499 – ($350 off MSRP)
64GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $499 – ($350 off MSRP)
32GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $479 – ($270 off MSRP)
32GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $479 – ($270 off MSRP)
16GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $449 – ($200 off MSRP)
16GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $449 – ($200 off MSRP)

The Factory Outlet eBay Store can be found on eBay. [DIRECT LINK]

iOS 8 beta 3 indicates iCloud Drive will also be accessible from iCloud.com

upload2

iCloud Drive was first announced at WWDC. This feature is Apple’s new approach to iCloud file syncing, replacing Documents and Data. The new interface acts more like Dropbox, with one central folder containing all iCloud documents in one place. This gives more flexibility over the model used by iOS 7 and Mavericks, where iCloud documents are siloed within their own app’s containers.

At WWDC, Apple announced that iCloud Drive could be accessed from Mac, iOS devices or even PC’s (as shown by the iCloud Drive preview page). However, a new setup screen present in iOS 8 beta 3, released earlier today, shows that Apple is also planning to expose iCloud Drive on the web. Although people were surprised by native PC support, bringing iCloud Drive to the web enables even more flexibility, bridging any OS with a modern web browser.

It seems that Apple will soon add functionality to iCloud.com that enables viewing of iCloud Drive’s contents. Currently, documents for Apple’s iWorks apps are the only iCloud files visible on iCloud.com. It is likely that iCloud Drive will work in a similar way, although inline editing will not be supported as is possible with Pages, Keynote and Numbers documents.

LEDmeKnow.

Share 56 Tweet Embed Remind me. Put your phone on silent and don’t miss a thing. Lights let you know – with a glance at a sleek box – who’s trying to reach you. Each Square = Person, Group of People, Type of Contact or App. You want to know who’s calling, emailing, texting, facebooking, WhatsApping, tweeting you. You’re getting pretty sick of checking your phone all the time. Glance over at a small, modern box that looks like a Rubik’s Cube and know immediately who has been reaching out.