Apple creates iphone switcher tool

From the NYTimes  Bits blog:

Apple on Sunday released a web tool to address a problem that has affected some iMessage users: When they switched to a non-Apple smartphone, like an Android device, they could no longer receive messages from iPhones.

When someone with an iPhone switched to a different smartphone, like an Android phone, the phone number would remain attached to iMessage, which is usable only on Apple devices. So when iPhone customers tried to send text messages to that number, sometimes those messages would never make their way to the intended recipient.

Apple’s new tool, which many spotted on the web over the weekend, allows a former iPhone user to enter a phone number to detach it from iMessage. When a phone number is entered, a text message returns with a confirmation code, which also must be entered into the web tool.

How to View Source in Safari on iPad

This bookmarklet is useful to view source in Safari on Apple’s iPad. There is no built-in menu tool to do this in iOS, unlike with all desktop browsers. Oh why, Apple, do you drift ever further from user-centric software development?

Here is the link to the article by Ole Michelsen.

A fine solution is to create a bookmarklet, which is a piece of JavaScript saved as a bookmark. When you want to see the source of a web page, just click the bookmark and the source of the page is displayed. I was inspired by this bookmarklet by Rob Flaherty, but it has a few shortcomings. To improve upon the bookmarklet concept, I created my own version with a few more bells and whistles:

Google’s Moto G android phone reviewed

Read the new Ars Technica review of Google’s $179 Moto G — it outshines any other low-cost Android phone. It is an unlocked, off-contract phone perfect for teens or non-power users.

Specs at a glance: Google/Motorola Moto G
Screen 1280×720 4.5-inch IPS (329 PPI)
OS Android 4.3
CPU 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (quad-core Cortex A7)
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 305
Storage 8 or 16 GB NAND flash
Networking 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0. GSM model supports GSM 800 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz and UMTS 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100MHz; CDMA model supports 850 / 1900MHz
Ports Micro-USB, headphones
Camera 5MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
Size 5.11″ × 2.59″ × 0.24-0.46″ (129.9 × 65.9 × 6.0-11.6 mm)
Weight 5.04 oz. (143 g)
Battery 2070mAh
Starting price $179 off-contract

Amazon App store is shooting itself

me: this is a discussion about the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Shailaja: Hello, my name is Shailaja and I’m from the Appstore Team.

me: Hello… I am in the process of deleting my apps from my amazon account, so that I can uninstall the appstore completely…
I do not like how the appstore on the device prevents me from using any “Amazon-bought” app without being signed into the app store.
Why you ask? because my Amazon account password is very long and secure, and it is very painful to type it into the tiny phone screen repeatedly. ouch, a lot of hassle. Why this roadblock?

me: and I do not have the pwd memorized, so I have to stop my attempt and wait til later. over 8 x this week I have tried to use an app — gasbuddy, etc. — and been stymied

Shailaja: I’m very sorry for the inconvenience Paul. It’s for your own account security issues.

Shailaja: If you wish you can change your Amazon password to a shorter one.
I’ve just sent you an email which will help you reset your account password

me: that is bad advice, i’m sorry. NO — this pwd requirement is only serving amazon… not me. it’s my phone and I’m responsible for its security… how could someone using Gasbuddy without an amazon pwd be a harm ?
why on earth can’t ANY app run without being forced to sign into amazon?
google PLAY does not force this… and the sky has not fallen

Shailaja: I’m looking into this, please hold Paul.

me: so why is Amazon so territorial and proprietary?? it’s causing me to leave.
I would rather rebuy everything from PLAY to avoid this issue with Amazon Appstore. AND, furthermore, this behavior is new, with last update it seems… it was not like this before.

Shailaja: Yes, I understand that there is a problem with the newer version of the software.

me: please either make the Appstore remember the pwd, or remove it completely…. yes I can understand that the APPSTORE itself requires a pwd to buy new apps…. but NOT to use the apps I already bought. Google does not do this, that I’ve seen. [ but they do have drm too]

Shailaja: Our technical experts are still working on this on highest priority to fix it as soon as possible.
I totally understand your frustration.

me: Really, there are teams of techies working to fix this? It’s been 3 weeks since I noticed this… Where is the tech note to all users? is there a public link available?

Shailaja: Yes Paul, there is an issue with the new Appstore update.

Shailaja is typing…

me: is it documented publicly in a bug list? so I can find it and review
it is helpful to know these things

Shailaja: Alternatively, please try installing Amazon appstore from any of the below links:

Yes, I understand. Please hold while I check.

me: Reinstalling the appstore will fix this perpetual forced login in order to use any App?

Shailaja: Yes. Reinstall from any of the above links and it would fix the issue.
Above is the amazon appstore issues forum Paul.

me: hmm, i see… it’s being talked about.

Shailaja: It would be fixed very soon Paul. Please give our engineers some time.
The app developers include DRM restrictions.It’s not Amazon Paul.
me: Thank you, Shailaja… this is helpful.

Is your smartphone vulnerable to the Tel URL attack?

A tech named Dylan Reeve has a test site to determine your phone’s vulnerability:

If your phone is vulnerable to the recently disclosed tel: URL attack then this website will cause your phone to open the dialler and display the IMEI code. With other USSD codes it could do any number of other things, including wipe all phone data.

You can find some more information and a simple workaround here:

What does it all mean?!
If visiting this page automatically causes your phone’s dialler application to pop up with *#06# displayed then you are not vulnerable. If, however, the dialler pops up and then you immediately see your phone IMEI number (a 14- or 16-digit number) then you are potentially vulnerable to attack.

A poster on the site made an app to solve the problem without changing dialers: Download his free, open-source app that can intercept these malicious URLs:


App Developers Beware Patent Trolls

Just developing… read this great post from an IP lawyer/activist, Florian Mueller. To quote his article:

FOSS Patents

The Lodsys situation is getting out of control, and I think each affected app developer should now look for an exit strategy. In this blog post I describe the way I would go about. After an update on the Lodsys situation, I’ll outline the short version of my suggested course of action. Thereafter, I go into detail on its various parts.

iOS and Android (and cross-platform) app developers receive letters and phone calls, take down apps and remove features

About two months ago, Lodsys started sending out patent assertion letters to iOS app developers. More than one month ago, Lodsys sued seven app developers in Texas — mostly over iOS apps but also one Android app.

And he links to the EFF’s site to a post in 2010 about Apple’s program:

UPDATED: All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple: The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement

  • Ban on Public Statements
  • App Store Only
  • Ban on Reverse Engineering
  • No Tinkering with Any Apple Products
  • Kill Your App Any Time
  • We Never Owe You More than Fifty Bucks

Which Tablet is the best platform upon which to build an app?

From InfoWorld:

Not only can it not compete with an Apple iPad, it can’t compete with the second-best tablet, Motorola Xoom, nor even with marginal Android tablets such as the Galaxy Tab that use the smartphone version of the Android OS rather than the Honeycomb tablet version. In fact, if my choice were between a PlayBook and a Windows 7 tablet — my benchmark for unusability — I think I’d rather go sans tablet.

The fundamental nature of the PlayBook’s flaws begin with the requirement that a BlackBerry be tethered to it for access to business email, calendars, or contacts. Other than using a Webmail client, a PlayBook without a BlackBerry is unable to communicate. You can’t connect to POP, IMAP, or Exchange servers directly from the tablet, as you can from an iOS or Android device — you must have a BlackBerry tethered via Bluetooth using the BlackBerry Bridge application. In that case, you essentially see your BlackBerry email, calendar, and contacts in a window on the PlayBook when connected.

And the other competitor:

Tablet deathmatch: HP TouchPad vs. Apple iPad 2

Plainly put, the TouchPad is a mediocre tablet that poses no threat to the iPad or to Android tablets such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Xoom. Even though the iPad 2’s high bar is no secret, it once again appears that corner-cutting or rush to market has been allowed to tie a potentially strong tablet’s arm behind its back.

[ InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman says “Whatever you do, don’t buy a Chromebook.” | See all of InfoWorld’s tablet deathmatch comparisons and personalize the tablet scores to your needs.

David Pogue from the NYTimes:

It’s the H.P. TouchPad ($500 for the 16-gig model, $600 for 32 gigs): a black rectangle with a glossy 9.7-inch multitouch screen. You can zoom into maps, photos or Web pages by putting two fingers on the glass and spreading or pinching them. The screen image rotates when you turn the tablet 90 degrees.

It runs the WebOS from Palm, which means there are far fewer apps. It is not an Android device.


Building independent internet networks

This is a follow-up post to an earlier topic PDG wrote about after the Egyptian crackdown and censorship of the internet.

Dubbed the “Internet in a suitcase” project, a team at the New America Foundation’s “Open Technology Initiative” is creating hardware and software which create separate pathways for communications, whether cell transmissions or wireless data.

The lead expert, psychologist Sascha Meinrath (see his blog), writes:

“We’re going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, to surveil…. The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people’s fundamental human right to communicate.”

The NYTimes in an article this week described their work as:

The group’s suitcase project will rely on a version of “mesh network” technology, which can transform devices like cellphones or personal computers to create an invisible wireless web without a centralized hub. In other words, a voice, picture or e-mail message could hop directly between the modified wireless devices — each one acting as a mini cell “tower” and phone — and bypass the official network.

Mr. Meinrath said that the suitcase would include small wireless antennas, which could increase the area of coverage; a laptop to administer the system; thumb drives and CDs to spread the software to more devices and encrypt the communications; and other components like Ethernet cables.

Hats off to these programmers and engineers, and also to the Obama administration’s other initiatives.

Read an earlier post on internet censorship here at PDG.

Sascha’s bio from New America Foundation reads:

Sascha Meinrath is the Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative and has been described as a “community Internet pioneer” and an “entrepreneurial visionary.” He is a well-known expert on community wireless networks, municipal broadband, and telecommunications policy. In 2009 he was named one of Ars Technica’s Tech Policy “People to Watch” and is also the 2009 recipient of the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy.

Sascha is a co-founder of Measurement Lab, a distributed server platform for researchers around the world to deploy Internet measurement tools, advance network research, and empower the public with useful information about their broadband connections.

He also coordinates the Open Source Wireless Coalition, a global partnership of open source wireless integrators, researchers, implementors and companies dedicated to the development of open source, interoperable, low-cost wireless technologies. He is a regular contributor to Government Technology’s Digital Communities, the online portal and comprehensive information resource for the public sector.

Sascha has worked with Free Press, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), the Acorn Active Media Foundation, the Ethos Group, and the CUWiN Foundation.


Amazon App Store offers free app a day

Amazon Appstore Android Robot The Amazon Appstore for Android is a place where you can get a great paid app for free every day, see app recommendations based on your past Amazon purchases, and shop using Amazon’s secure 1-Click payment technology. You can also test apps on a simulated Android phone using a feature called “Test Drive.” You can shop from your computer or directly from your phone or tablet.

Go to the Install page on with your computer browser:

Appstore for Android
Appstore for Android