Category: Apple


Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3 Now Available

If you recently upgraded to iOS 4.3.3 that fixed Locationgate woes, you’ll be delighted to know that untethered jailbreak and unlock for iOS 4.3.3 is now available. The iPhone Dev-team have updated their PwnageTool and redsn0w programs so it’s now possible to jailbreak iOS 4.3.3 using Mac and Windows in a way that doesn’t require connecting the device to a computer each time it’s rebooted.

The iOS 4.3.3 untethered jailbreak is based on the exploit created by @i0nic for iOS 4.3.1. The updated redsn0w tool also allows you to turn on multitasking gestures, the team noted in a blog post. If you wish to unlock your device for use with any carrier, there’s an app for that.

To unlock an iOS 4.3.3 device, use the ultrasn0w tool. Remember that ultrasn0w at the time of this writing only worked with iPhone 4 baseband 1.59.00 and iPhone 3G/3GS basebands 4.26.08, 5.11.07, 5.12.01, 5.13.04 and 6.15.00. Use a custom IPSW to update to 4.3.3 in order to avoid updating your baseband. You may wanna use excellent ipswDownloader for Mac to easily find and download any iOS firmware build. This app also figures out your baseband version and tells you whether your iOS version can be jailbroken and unlocked. If you’re on Windows, download the f0recast app that checks whether your device is unlockable or tethered with a USB connect.

If you just want to perform an untethered iOS 4.3.3 jailbreak, I recommend handy step-by-step guides for redsn0w or PwnageTool. The below video shows how easy it is to perform an untethered jailbreak of iOS 4.3.3 via redsn0w 0.9.6rc15. For newbies, iClarified.com provides a wealth of jailbreaking and unlocking guides. And if you need a reason to jailbreak, Cydia creator Saurik has a few.

As for the iPad 2 jailbreak, it’s still pending per a note over at the iPhone Dev-team blog.

The iPad2 jailbreak remains under development. As you may know, the original exploit @comex developed in the first week of the iPad2 release was mysteriously fixed by Apple within days of its development. Partly because of this, don’t expect much public discussion of the iPad2 jailbreak until it’s actually finished and ready for release (and please avoid asking about it). In all liklihood, it will be a userland exploit like the first (unreleased) one, not dependent on bootrom dumps. The first one can’t be released even for those with the original 4.3 firmware due to legal (distribution) reasons.

 

Download the Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3 Mac OS X version, here.

Download the Untethered Jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3 for Windows XP/Vista/7 here.

The PwnageTool Official BitTorrent Release, via BitTorrent, here.

Source: 9 to 5 Mac

Fake security software takes aim at Mac users

Scammers are distributing fake security software aimed at the Mac by taking advantage of the news that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces, a security researcher said today.

A security firm that specializes in Mac software called the move “a very big step forward” for malware makers targeting Apple’s users.

Phony antivirus software, dubbed “rogueware” by security experts, has long plagued people running Microsoft Windows, but this is the first time scammers have targeted the Mac with a sophisticated, professional-looking security application, said Peter James, a spokesman for Intego, a Mac-only antivirus company headquartered in France.

“This is indeed a very big step forward for Mac malware,” said James.

The program, dubbed MAC Defender, is similar to existing “rogueware,” the term for bogus security software that claims a personal computer is heavily infected with malware. Once installed, such software nags users with pervasive pop-ups and fake alerts until they fork over a fee to purchase the worthless program.

Until now, rogueware has been exclusively targeting Windows PCs.

That’s changed, according to Kurt Baumgartner, a senior malware researcher with Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, who today said that one group distributing MAC Defender has also been actively spreading Windows rogueware.

“They have been revving up for this for months,” said Baumgartner of the work to prep MAC Defender.

Last month, Baumgartner had reported that “.co.cc” domains — which are often used to spread malware and host attack code-infected Web sites — had begun to host fake security sites and deliver the “Best AntiVirus 2011” rogueware.

During his early-April sweep through the .co.cc domains, Baumgartner found a URL explicitly aimed at Macs: “antispyware-macbook(dot)co(dot)cc”.

“It is very odd that this group is marketing ‘Fast Windows Antivirus 2011’ from ‘macbook’ domains,” Baumgartner said at the time in a blog post.

Today, Baumgartner said that a group using .co.cc domains was serving up fake security software for Macs as part of a broader campaign to trick Windows users into downloading and installing phony programs.

That campaign is currently exploiting the hot news topic of Bin Laden’s death to get people to click on links that redirect their browsers to the rogueware downloads. The scammers have used “black hat” SEO (search engine optimization) tactics to push links to rogueware higher on Google Images’ search results.

But that’s not the only way Mac owners have been duped into installing MAC Defender.

On Saturday — the day before President Obama announced the killing of Bin Laden — messages from infected users began appearing on Apple’s support forums.

“What is macdefender and why is it trying to install itself on my computer?” asked someone identified as “wamabahama” on April 30.

“FYI, my daughter said the program started after clicking on a ‘hair style photo,'” added “Mr. Fix It Home Services” on the same support thread. Others reported stumbling upon MAC Defender after searching for images of prom tuxedos or for pictures of a character in the movie “Princess Bride.”

On Monday, Intego published a detailed advisory about MAC Defender, noting that that it was “very well designed, and looks professional.”

Intego spotted MAC Defender and acquired samples on Saturday, said James, who pointed out that users must enter their administrative password to install the program. “So there’s still a social engineering angle here,” he said.

In fact, users see a generic Windows-oriented page when they first click a link to the rogueware. “They’re not even getting a Mac-specific page,” James said.

But unless users have Safari set not to automatically open files after downloading, MAC Defender’s installation screen opens without any user action. That’s been enough to con some into approving the install by typing their administrative password.

The program also relies on an unusual technique to make users pay up.

“Every few minutes, it opens a porn page in the browser,” said James of MAC Defender. “We think they’re doing this because most people will assume that that means they’ve got a virus on their Mac, and they need to get rid of it by paying for the program.”

MAC Defender demands $60-$80, depending on whether users select a one-year, two-year or lifetime “license.”

Ironically, there are only eight to 10 serial numbers that MAC Defender accepts, said James, and those are tucked into the binary file — unencrypted — where advanced users may be able to root them out.

James also called out the MAC Defender’s look and feel as an indicator that the criminals are serious about reaping profits from Mac users. “This was done by a very sophisticated Mac interface developer,” James said. “It’s an obvious sign that [scammers] are starting to target Macs. Earlier [scams], such as 2008’s MacSweeper just didn’t bother trying to look professional.”

Intego spotted MacSweeper, a fake Macintosh system cleaning program, in January 2008.

MAC Defender has also created some collateral damage: The rogueware uses the same name as a legitimate German company that develops Mac software.

“A new malware application named MAC Defender (MacDefender.app) for OS X surfaced a few days ago,” warned the MacDefender site. “If you see an application/installer named like this DO NOT DOWNLOAD/INSTALL it. I would never release an application named like this.”

The rogueware’s name choice was probably a twist on “PC Defender” and “Windows Defender,” phrases used in the titles of numerous Windows-based fake AV programs, said James.

Mac users running Safari can prevent MAC Defender from automatically opening after it downloads by unchecking the box marked “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” at the bottom of the General tab in the browser’s Preferences screen.

Source: ComputerWorld

What Android Phones Do that Apple Phones Don’t

Does anyone remember this ad for the Motorola Droid? “Everything iDon’t,” it said, “Droid does!”

Of course, the iPhone can do half of those things now, like take 5-megapixel pictures in the dark. And the usefulness of some of the others is up for debate. (What exactly is “Open development?”) But even today, there are some pretty big things the iPhone can’t do, that Android phones can … and you may be surprised by some of them.

Come in all different shapes and sizes

Here’s one you probably won’t be surprised by, although you might be surprised by some of the weird Android phones out there. A slider phone with a second touch screen instead of a keyboard?

In all seriousness, though, the one-size-fits-all iPhone leaves out the people it doesn’t fit. Want a keyboard with actual keys? A gigantic screen, plus a kickstand for watching movies? There’s an Android phone out there for you. There’s even a phone with a slide-out game controller, a la the PSP Go. And speaking of portable PlayStations.

Run PlayStation games

And I don’t just mean games that were originally made for the Sony PlayStation (although like the Xperia Play.

These things are made for gaming, to Sony’s specs, and have access to tons of exclusive games. They can even connect to the PlayStation Network, using will be able to play Android games designed for the PlayStation Certified phones, which just shows how committed Sony is to gaming on Android devices.

Buy apps from Amazon

That’s right, Amazon has its own “Appstore for Android.” So why would you want to go through its 8-step signup process?

Well, first off is the “free app of the day.” These aren’t apps that are normally free, and are being promoted; they’re paid apps, costing as much as $4.99 sometimes, they’re put up for download for free. A new one goes up each day, like it says. You can also use Amazon.com to look for all discounted apps, or to read reviews and look for similar apps, just like you would for any other product you buy from Amazon.

 

 

A bunch of other stuff?

The iPhone doesn’t support text reflow, which is an Android feature that makes it so zoomed-in text on a website fits the screen width, so that you don’t have to swipe back and forth to read paragraphs. It also doesn’t support home screen “widgets,” which let you do things like check your bank balance or the latest news stories without opening an app. There’s even a widget to set your phone to silent mode. With all this stuff Android phones can do that the iPhone can’t, one might ask: Why does anyone buy an iPhone at all?

The answer’s as simple as it is obvious. The iPhone’s the best-designed smartphone there is, and it has more and better apps than every Android phone combined. Plus, Apple’s clout means that the wireless carriers can’t mess up its phones, with huge logos and non-uninstallable apps.

One size, though, doesn’t fit all. And thanks to Android’s open-source programming code, companies like Sony and Amazon are getting to try some interesting things, that they never would’ve been able to on the iPhone.

Source: Yahoo! / Video: IntoMobile

Inquiries Grow Over Apple’s Data Collection Practices

The controversy surrounding the security of Apple’s iPhone and iPad escalated Thursday as some European governments said they would investigate whether the company had violated privacy laws by collecting and storing users’ geographic location data.

The introduction of the Apple iPad 2 in London in March drew crowds. Now the security of the device is being widely questioned.

At the same time, some researchers said that contrary to reports published Wednesday, the iPhone’s recording of location information in a hidden file on the device, later stored on iTunes on a PC, has been known for some time, and that the information has, on some occasions, been used by law enforcement agencies in investigations.

“This data that was supposedly discovered yesterday has existed in earlier iPhones,” said Alex Levinson of Katana Forensics, a company that specializes in extracting data from electronic devices for legal cases. Mr. Levinson said that he and colleagues had explained Apple’s practices at conferences and in research papers, and that his firm has helped law enforcement agencies “harvest geolocational evidence from iOS devices,” a reference to the Apple operating system.

Mr. Levinson said that an update to Apple’s operating system changed the location of the file storing the information, but that the file had existed previously.

Security experts say law enforcement agencies can often get more precise location information from cellphone carriers than from the hidden file.

While privacy advocates and many iPhone users were alarmed by the revelations, Mr. Levinson and other security experts said they suspected that Apple had been using the data to be able to pinpoint a phone’s location more quickly, saving bandwidth and battery life, when their owners used location-based services like maps and navigation.

Still, the controversy has been magnified by Apple’s silence. For the second day, the company did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

But in a letter sent by Apple in July to two congressmen — Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas — the company appeared to confirm that it has been storing and collecting location information for some time.

In the letter, Apple said it collects the location data anonymously and only when consumers agree to use its location-based services like maps, or any apps that ask a user’s location, and for its advertising system, iAds. The company said that it has been offering location-based services since 2008, but that only in 2010, when it released iOS 3.2, did it begin relying on its own databases for those services. Explaining its need to collect data from its customers’ phones, Apple wrote, “These databases must be updated continuously.”

Security experts say companies like Apple and Google collect the location of Wi-Fi networks and cell towers to pinpoint the location of phones without using GPS technology. Some suggested Apple was doing so through the users of its iPhones.

 

 

Mark Seiden, an information security consultant in Silicon Valley, said that Apple’s letter to the congressmen suggests that it uses the location data from the previously hidden file “so a phone knows where it is quickly.” Mr. Seiden said that Apple did not appear to be using the data to track people, but that the company should probably be more diligent about deleting dated location information. “I don’t know why they would want to keep old data on the device,” he said.

Mr. Markey on Thursday sent a follow-up letter to Apple asking it to explain why it was storing the information in the user’s device, and raising concern that its actions could violate the Communications Act.

“Apple needs to safeguard the personal location information of its users to ensure that an iPhone doesn’t become an iTrack,” Mr. Markey said in a statement. On Wednesday, Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, also sent a letter asking Apple for an explanation.

The controversy erupted on Wednesday, when two computer programmers issued a report at a conference in San Francisco describing the files with the hidden data. The programmers also released a program that allowed users to see their stored location data on a map.

Some privacy experts were particularly concerned that the files were not encrypted, and that they were backed up on users’ computers.

The concerns quickly spread to Europe, where privacy laws are typically stricter than in the United States.

The Bavarian Agency for the Supervision of Data Protection, in Germany, said it would examine whether — and if so, why — the iPhone and iPad were storing such user data. Thomas Kranig, the director of the agency, said his office had asked Apple whether geographic information was being stored and for what purpose.

“If it’s true that this information is being collected, and it is being done without the approval and knowledge of the users, then it is definitely a violation of German privacy law,” Mr. Kranig said.

The Italian Data Protection Authority also opened an investigation into Apple’s data collection, expanding one it had begun on how mobile applications process personal data, Reuters reported.

France may follow suit. Yann Padova, the secretary general of CNIL, the French data protection authority, said the agency was trying to verify the report by the American programmers.

The French agency plans to send Apple France a letter asking for an explanation next week, Mr. Padova said. A major concern will be whether the information remained on the device or whether it was transferred by Apple to one of its commercial partners.

“In the first case, it is a matter of simply not obtaining the consent of  the consumer for the data to be collected,” Mr. Padova said. “In the second case, if the information is marketed without the knowledge of the consumer, it is much more serious.”

Source: New York Times

Apple patches Pwn2Own iPhone OS vulnerabilities

Apple has released a critical update for its flagship iOS mobile operating system to fix several gaping security holes, including a few that were used in successful exploits at this year’s CanSecWest Pwn2Own contest.

The new iOS 4.3.2 software update, which is available for download via iTunes, provides cover for five documented security problems, including vulnerabilities exploited by Charlie Miller (iPhone) and a team of researchers who broke into RIM’s BlackBerry smartphone.

The raw details:

  • QuickLook: A memory corruption issue existed in QuickLook’s handling of Microsoft Office files. Viewing a maliciously crafted Microsoft Office file may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Charlie Miller and Dion Blazakis working with TippingPoint’s Zero Day Initiative.
  • WebKit: An integer overflow issue existed in the handling of nodesets. Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Vincenzo Iozzo, Willem Pinckaers, Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, and an anonymous researcher working with TippingPoint’s Zero Day Initiative.
  • WebKit: A use after free issue existed in the handling of text nodes. Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Vupen Security working with TippingPoint’s Zero Day Initiative, and Martin Barbella.

The iOS update also fixes the Comodo certificate trust policy problem that allowed an attacker with a privileged network position to intercept user credentials or other sensitive information.   This issue was also fixed in separate Safari and Mac OS X updates.

Source: ZDNet

Samsung: Do You Want Your IPad Clone in Small, Medium or Large?

In 2007, Apple started the smartphone market by showing smartphone makers what they had to aspire to: The iPhone. The tablet market hasn’t quite caught up to the iPad that created it yet, but Samsung’s given us a date for when it thinks it will: June 8.

That’s when the new Galaxy Tab launches. And Samsung’s adding on to its lineup, with new 8.9 inch and 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab models to complement the old 7 inch. These tablets will have slightly smaller and slightly larger screens than the iPad 2’s, respectively, but Samsung claims that they’ll both be thinner and lighter (even though these claims are disputed).

So what do these tablets have going for them, and is there any reason you’d buy one instead of an iPad?

Design by checklist

The new Galaxy Tabs have all the right boxes checked off. Size? Thinner. Weight? Lighter. Their screens are sharper, their front- and rear-facing cameras have better resolutions, and they’ve got dual-core processors just like the iPad 2. They’re seemingly designed to be its equal or better in every way, including price: The 10.1 inch model starts at $499, the same as an iPad 2.

After that, the Tabs toss in all the buzzwords that everyone’s talking about. Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” the first version of Android that’s designed for tablets? Of course. How about Adobe Flash? Sure, even though it works about as well as it does on other Android devices (which is not very well). 4G wireless speeds? Supposedly, once they’re ready.

If a company got feature checklist dysfunction and decided it had to outdo the iPad 2 on everything, that’s exactly what the new Galaxy Tabs would look like. And with the June launch date (for the Wi-Fi version of the 10.1 inch Tab, at least), they’re only a few months behind. So is there anything they’re leaving out?

“Experience” is not on the checklist

Let’s start with retail and marketing. A lot of people think these are Apple’s only advantages, and that they’re unfair somehow. But whatever you think of Apple’s ads, they have to be better than the cheesy, contrived “interviews” Samsung did to promote the Tabs, at the CTIA Wireless show. Besides pointing out how these “true-life stories” bore a striking resemblance to Samsung’s marketing points, writer Harry McCraken also noted how the people being interviewed appeared to be actors.

So once these videos convince you that you need a Galaxy Tab, where do you get one? Not at the Apple Store. You’ll have to look past the other Android tablets at the electronics store, each one a black and gray slate that runs basically the same software.

And what software do they run? Not any of the 65,000 iPad apps. They run Android apps, and precious few of those (besides Google’s) have been optimized for tablets yet. Without apps, what’s the point of having a tablet?

The Upshot

Samsung’s made a heroic effort, and the new Tabs are striking hardware-wise. But the message it’s sending is out-of-tune. It seems like it’s hoping you’ll forget that there’s any way to judge between tablets besides raw checklists of specs … sort of like how things are in the PC market.

But just like with computers, Apple’s set itself apart in the tablet market that it created. And if no one can make something that’s not “just like an iPad, but … ” then Apple’s going to continue to dominate people’s choices.

Source: Yahoo! News

Apple rejects iPhone radiation measurement app over lack of “interest”

Tawkon, makers of a mobile application that measures cellular radiation, have been blocked from releasing their app for iPhone. In response, the company on Wednesday released the tawkon app for iPhone via the Cydia jailbreak.

Apple’s GSM iPhone 4 has been highly criticized for its antenna issues, and the relative ease with which users can completely block its reception with the “death grip.” Journalists coyly referred to the resulting fallout from this issue as “antennagate.”

While Antennagate was at its peak furor, an Israel-based company called tawkon Ltd. showed off how mobile phones actually emit more radiation when struggling to find wireless signals.

At the time, the company had a mobile app for BlackBerry and Android that measured how much radiation a mobile phone was emitting.

“All the information about the transmission power of the mobile phone is available on the device itself, in the cellular protocol stack that manages the cellular modem (baseband),” tawkon’s Scott Piro told me in August. “We use this information in the form of different RF parameters extracted from the device itself. We then take into consideration the proximity of the phone to the user (for example if the phone is held against the user’s ear or on the user’s lap) to help determine the actual exposure level at any given time.”

The company was awaiting approval for their app in the iOS app store, but it was rejected by none other than Steve Jobs himself.

“After encouraging discussions with iPhone executives at Apple Cupertino headquarters, their generous compliments about our application functionality and graphic appeal weren’t enough to sway the executive decision to reject tawkon from the app store,” said CEO and Co-Founder of tawkon, Gil Friedlander.

Friedlander tried to appeal to Jobs in an email explaining why tawkon is a useful and constructive application, but Jobs’ reply was brief, and to the point.

“No Interest.”

Because of this, tawkon today has released their iOS app for Cydia, an iPhone Jailbreak.

“We believe it is every phone user’s fundamental right to know the level of radiation they’re exposed to, and to take precautionary measures if they see fit. tawkon makes it easy for people to use their iPhone with lower exposure to cellphone radiation,” Friedlander said Wednesday.

Beliving fully in the service its application provides, tawkon has set up a public petition to get iPhone users to show their support and try to get tawkon listed legitimately in the iTunes App Store.

 

Source: Beta News

iPad 2 Will Come Carrier Unlocked

If you plan to buy a brand new iPad 2 this coming Friday, good news, as the 3G version of the upcoming device will come carrier unlocked, just like the first generation iPad. In other words, nothing will prevent iPad 2 owners, from using a SIM card from another wireless provider, in order to use the device on another 3G network.

The news comes from the folks over at iPadinCanada, who had the chance to talk to their local 3G providers, namely Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility.

To be able to swap carriers, users will need to obtain – or fashion – a Micro-SIM card from their wireless carrier of choice, swap the SIM card that comes with the iPad, and fire up iTunes, to complete the switch. This news should come as a relief to international buyers eager to buy an iPad 2 via gray market channels, before the device is released in their respective countries, as the tablet will not need to be carrier unlocked via any specific tool to work out of the box. As for the U.S., T-Mobile fans will be able to use the device on their favorite network as well, but note that since T-Mobile uses non-standard 3G frequencies, the device may not be able to connect to T-Mobile’s 3G network in all markets.

One main caveat, the SIM card swap will only work with GSM/UMTS providers, as CDMA/EVDO providers do not use SIM cards, and use a completely different method to allow mobile devices to run on their network – if you were planning to buy a Verizon-compatible iPad 2 to use it on Sprint’s network, you’re out of luck.

Source: TechSnoops

Laptops play catch up to the iPad, Xoom

Market researcher Gartner released a research note Thursday claiming that laptops are not meeting the demands of the social-networking era. So, will mobile PCs become more like the Xoom and the iPad, which are, in turn, larger versions of the smartphone? In a word, yes.

This theory–or fact, depending on how you look at it–can also be restated as the post-PC era, which is the Apple marketing-spin corollary to the Gartner argument.

But let’s stick to Gartner’s analysis about the unsuitability of laptops in the social-networking era. Here are the most significant points in the note about the average mainstream laptop:

  • Battery life: not capable of all-day “untethered computing”
  • Connections: constant and immediate connections are not possible (i.e., no standard 3G/4G)
  • Heavy: still too heavy, lack real mobility

What this means is more laptops need to be like the 11.6-inch MacBook Air: very light, very thin–just like a tablet and, by extension, like a smartphone.

Though small laptops aren’t for everybody, it does mean more people will gravitate to this style as companies like Apple upgrade to powerful silicon like Intel’s low-voltage Sandy Bridge processor (and its future Ivy Bridge chip) and upcoming power-efficient chips from Advanced Micro Devices.

And don’t count out a clamshell MacBook–or a variation on that theme–sporting a future Apple A6 processor or an HP laptop packing a Qualcomm chip.

More future laptops will be like the 11.6-inch MacBook Air--but with 3G/4G standard and longer battery life.More future laptops will be like the 11.6-inch MacBook Air–but with 3G/4G standard and longer battery life.

(Credit: Apple)

In the more immediate future, this trend stipulates that Apple seriously consider built-in 3G/4G capability in the next version of the Air, as an Apple survey about 3G in a future MacBook Air seems to indicate the company is doing. As always, battery life would need improvement too.

So, what about the Netbook, you might ask. That delivered on mobility but not–until recently–on long battery life, nor on standard 3G. Nor, most importantly, on adequate performance for a laptop that would serve as someone’s everyday machine. The Netbook was ahead of its time but has always been hampered by Intel’s too-specific ideas about what a Netbook should and should not be.

For better or worse, it’s going to take a company like Apple to take the lead in redefining the high-mobility laptop. With help, of course, from companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sony–the HP Pavilion dm1z and Sony Y series, respectively, are a good start.

A $999 MacBook Air with 3G/4G and monthly broadband plans similar to those of the iPad? That’s another good start. Any takers?

Source: CNET

BlackBerry Messenger will launch on Android and iOS

Research In Motion is planning to bring its beloved BlackBerry Messenger app and service to Android, and eventually to iOS as well. According to our sources, RIM has not yet finalized details surrounding timing or pricing, but we have heard that the company might make the software free to all users. We’re also told strategy is still being developed, however, and RIM may end up charging users a one-time fee or even a recurring fee for access to its BBM service on third-party platforms.

It might seem a bit strange for RIM to want to bring the software that is responsible for keeping BlackBerry devices in the hands of countless potential defectors, but in the big picture, we think it could make sense. The company is getting very frustrated with applications like WhatsApp and Kik offering third-party experiences based on a concept RIM invented, and RIM apparently wants to own the space.

As far as what Android and iOS users can look forward to, we’ve been told RIM will offer stripped down versions of the BBM experience BlackBerry owners know and love. That way, Android and iOS users can communicate with practically anyone who has a smartphone using BBM, but they might not be able to share photos, location, or videos (when RIM crosses that bridge). Users who want the full BlackBerry Messenger experience will still need a BlackBerry smartphone to get it. At the same time, RIM could own the entire messaging app category on every major smartphone OS platform and could potentially draw new users in because it has given them a taste of what BlackBerry Messenger is all about.

Right now, we have heard that Android is definitely a go. But again, we’re not sure on timing, though our sources are confident that it will launch some time this year. RIM chose Android first because of the fact that it could develop and integrate something like this much easier with an open platform, but the plan is to build and deploy an iOS version at some point as well.

Source: BGR

What Honeycomb Means for Apple and Microsoft

Overall tablet sales for 2011 are estimated in the tens of millions, and many of those new units will run Google’s tablet-specific mobile platform, Honeycomb. Though a number of the OS’s new features and functions—from a new graphics engine to support for a variety of device sizes—appear specific to slates now, some are sure to filter down to smartphones, bringing greater Android unification across device types. And while Apple’s (AAPL) iPad may have the current lead in the tablet market, Honeycomb puts Google (GOOG) in an excellent position to catch up, much as Android has done in competing with iOS. But Apple isn’t the only competitor Google’s got in its crosshairs: Microsoft (MSFT) is also likely to be affected, from both a mobile and a desktop computing perspective.

Much of Honeycomb is a bit of a catch-up effort from Google, as Apple’s iOS has a nearly 12-month head start in the tablet market. And while many Honeycomb features are similar to those available in iOS, a few standout functions actually jump past Apple’s tablet platform:

• Honeycomb supports multiple cameras, including 3D stereoscopic image recording. And its ability to provide Google Talk users with a front-facing camera for video chat is a direct strike against Apple’s FaceTime.

• Android Market apps can be purchased and sent over the air to either a Honeycomb tablet or any recent Android smartphone. Apple’s iPad has a built-in app store, just like Honeycomb tablets do, but doesn’t support app discovery and purchase over the air from a computer.

• Honeycomb supports various screen sizes, which offer hardware makers a way to differentiate their tablet against Apple’s “one-size-fits-all” iPad. With the relative success of the older Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google has proved there’s a market for smaller slates.

• An increased number of Android tablets strengthens Google’s advertising base. Put another way, every Honeycomb tablet sold is another lost opportunity for Apple’s iAd platform, which started with initial success last year but has been hampered by lackluster performance since.

Threat to Microsoft

Honeycomb affects Microsoft both from a mobile perspective as well as that of the desktop. Microsoft revamped its smartphone platform with Windows Phone 7, but as of yet, it has no mobile tablet operating system aside from the tablet integrations within Windows 7, which is not designed from the ground up for touch computing.

Without a true, light mobile operating system, Microsoft is left to stand by and watch iPads, and soon likely Honeycomb tablets, sell in the millions. Microsoft is already facing pressure on the desktop side as smartphones outsell traditional computers, since more platform revenues will be flowing to other companies. Yet Microsoft is only just beginning to fight back with Windows Phone 7, and has yet to mount a consumer tablet challenger. And therein lies the danger.

Simply put, Honeycomb looks to be the mobile platform and ecosystem that Microsoft should have built by now. Instead, Microsoft is behind and will be fighting among Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Research In Motion (RIMM), and others for smaller tablet market shares, if and when it ever creates a lighter version of Windows for tablets.

Source: Business Week