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iPhone Researchers Gain a Shell

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-don't-play-three-card dept.

Security 242

SkiifGeek writes "A team of researchers dedicated to finding means to fully control and interact with the new Apple iPhone claim to have successfully gained an interactive shell on the device. In order to achieve this feat physical access to the phone is required, as it relies on some minor electronics to be created and connected to the phone's serial port. It is believed that general control over the iPhone will be available to the enterprising researchers within a week (after all, it has only just been a week since the iPhone was released), with the promise of enough control to allow for self-propagating code not very far away."

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Turtle Power! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776469)

iPhone Researchers Gain a Shell
So ... they're now more turtle-like? Or becoming hardened from low blow attacks about prices?

And calling them 'researchers?' Oh, come on. 'Hacker' is an appropriate term, just ask Paul Graham [paulgraham.com] .

Re:Turtle Power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776543)

The general public thinks that a hacker is in fact what you or I would call a "cracker". So yeah, I think "researcher" is more appropriate, because they aren't breaking any laws by doing this, and it is essentially research.

Re:Turtle Power! (3, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777039)

The general public thinks that a hacker is in fact what you or I would call a "cracker".

That would make him a Graham cracker then.

Mmmm, smores.

Re:Turtle Power! (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777089)

research makes it sound like they are breaking new ground somehow. these goes are just reverse engineering something - the information on how iphones work already exists.

Re:Turtle Power! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777227)

The difference between a "researcher" and a "hacker" is that a "researcher" works in a nice shiny office building or school campus, while a "hacker" works at home or his mom's basement.

Seriously, if blogs mean anybody can become a journalist, if open source means anybody can write code used in mission critical systems, I think it's only fair that any random curious person can be a "researcher".

Re:Turtle Power! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777613)

I'm sure the industry considers them to be more hermit crab [stjohnbeachguide.com] -like.

That's quite a jump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776475)

What will this capability provide?

Re:That's quite a jump (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776563)

Given the command list provided, it may hold some promise. The fact that it has tftp and the ability to boot from a specified kernel image (hard-coded name though) opens up the possibility of uploading and booting from a custom kernel (if the shell in question has write perms to /kernelcache anyway, no indication that it does). It also can write to memory, which is intriguing as well. It can also do exciting things like adjust core voltage, so maybe you could use this to fry your iPhone. If, you know, that's what you're into.

Not surprising, really. (4, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776875)

tftp is common in many embedded devices... during development, it's where the test OS images come from. During production, it's often how updated images and patches can be called from the computer (or in the iPhone's case, downloaded). the early days of Familiar Linux (which ran on an iPaq) used PPP simulated over a serial line to shovel image files to the PDA.

It can be usefu on its ownl, but to be really useful, you use it to call down a modified image which has a more versatile shell (ash comes to mind, and I know that has a BSD and prolly a Darwin port...)

/P

Re:That's quite a jump (0)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776981)

It does look like a pretty decent start. The fact that it's only a week since introduction is pretty impressive. It looks like there could be some good things to come.

Re:That's quite a jump (5, Informative)

BlueStraggler (765543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777331)

That's not a shell, it's a boot prompt with some firmware commands - the non-PC equivalent of a BIOS setup screen. Calling that a shell is like calling the BIOS setup screen Windows. Granted, it's a start, because it may allow you to load and boot alternative kernels, but "shell" implies a command shell around an OS. All they appear to have done is completely broken the iPhone so that it won't boot; the machine is falling back to its ROM prompt in the hopes that someone can manually tell it how to boot.

Re:That's quite a jump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776995)

What will this capability provide?
Nerds will finally be able to get dates with Mac loving girls.

Wait, no it won't.

"self-propagating code" (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776497)

Is he talking about a virus for the iPhone, or is there some other definition I'm not aware of?

Re:"self-propagating code" (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776529)

A virus doesn't have to be bad. The flu vaccine is a dead virus intentionally injected into your arm to prevent the live one from making your life miserable.

Re:"self-propagating code" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776591)

A vaccine doesn't propagate. It's dead.

Self-propagating always means 'bad'.

Re:"self-propagating code" (4, Funny)

BillyBlaze (746775) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776713)

Self-propagating always means 'bad'.

...said the life-form.

Re:"self-propagating code" (5, Funny)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777163)

A life form that didn't self-propagate. I'm pretty sure he had parents. If self-propagation were possible, I'd have about 180 billion children by now.

Re:"self-propagating code" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777501)

Please mod parent something other than 'Funny.' Guess we'll see who's Not Funny.

Re:"self-propagating code" (2, Funny)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777583)

You beat me to the punchline.

So to speak...

Re:"self-propagating code" (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777159)

I would assume that for example, this would mean developers not caring about official support/endorsement from Apple would no longer be limited to using AJAX for making their "applications" - though that may not matter since people willing to modify their iPhone firmware/OS are most likely not going to spend $600 USD on a phone and another $70 or $100 on data plans from a wireless telco...

command list (mirror) (3, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776501)

command list:
        help this list
        script run script at specific address
        go jump directly to address
        bootx boot a kernel cache at specified address
        diags boot into diagnostics (if present)
        tsys boot into tsys (if present)
        bdev block device commands
        image flash image inspection
        fs file system commands
        fsboot try to boot kernel at /kernelcache
        devicetree create a device tree from the specified address
        ramdisk create a ramdisk from the specified address
        tftp tftp via ethernet to/from device
        eload tftp via ethernet from hardcoded install server
        halt halt the system (good for JTAG)
        reboot reboot the device
        poweroff power off the device
        md memory display - 32bit
        mdh memory display - 16bit
        mdb memory display - 8bit
        mw memory write - 32bit
        mwh memory write - 16bit
        mwb memory write - 8bit
        mws memory write - string
        crc POSIX 1003.2 checksum of memory
        task examine system tasks
        printenv print one or all environment variables
        setenv set an environment variable
        clearenv clear all environment variables
        saveenv save current environment to flash
        run use contents of environment var as script
        bgcolor set the display background color
        setpicture set the image on the display
        iic iic read/write
        radio Manipulate the radio board.
        setbusclock Set bus clock to the given frequency in Hz.
        setcorevoltage Set core voltage to the given voltage in mV.
        syscfg flash SysCfg inspection
        charge Manage the charger chip.
        powernvram Access Power NVRAM.
        usb run a USB command
        nand nand flash routines
        chunk chunk a file7/6/2007

Re:command list (mirror) (1)

gradedcheese (173758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776537)

Many of those commands look kind of similar to das u-boot, perhaps they modified it? If so, someone should request the source...

Re:command list (mirror) (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776637)

It looks a lot like an old forth/open firmware prompt, kind of like on PowerMacs. On PowerMacs you could get a list like this when you booted while holding down some magic keys. You could even open a remote session on your open firmware if you set a server running on the target machine (this required physical access to the target machine at boot time).

If this is really what it looks like, then it's really low-level access to the hardware. OTOH, it requires physical access to the iPhone, and once you got the thing up the bootloader is likely to blow away most of the low-level environment. The real crown jewels would be decryption of the binaries on the phone, plus breaking the various validations and checksums the iphone's doing before it runs, so yous could patch them to do your evil, but that's a bigger hack.

Re:command list (mirror) (5, Interesting)

karmatic (776420) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776665)

Actually, it's been reported that the iPhone doesn't require signed binaries. You can swap and modify them at will.

There's a restore image, and they have managed to decrypt, extract, and modify said image before sending it to the phone. The executables aren't encrypted or signed on the device; however, the restore image has a password. They have the password.

Re:command list (mirror) (4, Interesting)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777137)

I hope that this is true. I am really itching to write apps for the iPhone. The interface makes it an interesting device. The problem that most people have when reviewing it is that they have to compare it to already known devices. Yes, the keyboard won't be as good as a real hardware for typing speed. However, it does open the possibilities of things previously not possible, such as modifiable keyboard (except for that vapor-ware one with the OLED keys). Additionally, the Jeff Han video has shown some other cool possibilities (beyond the stretch thing that is currently used .. which is cool, but doesn't mean more isn't possible).

It's interesting to see how Apple has so far managed security. Unlike other companies, at least so far, they don't seem set on complete lock down. For example, so far they seem only to use the Trusted Computing to make their OS run on Apple hardware only. They could be a lot more evil with it. Even the DRM on their music. While the change it up occasionally, they at least haven't made a lot of sound about PlayFair.

As for the iPhone, it might be a matter that they're fine with people hacking it, as long as they don't have to be held responsible for it. That is, if your iPhone starts crashing, it's because you put programs on it that you weren't supposed to. Doing so also allows them to watch what other people are doing with the HW (free R&D). It's somewhat similar to what the did with Bootcamp. They didn't actively stop people from getting Windows booting on the Intel computers, but they also didn't help.

I guess the two telling signs of this will be if: (a) Apple patches this with their next update (an update coming real soon?), and (b) if they force signed binaries to run on the iPhone.

Re:command list (mirror) (1)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777341)

For example, so far they seem only to use the Trusted Computing to make their OS run on Apple hardware only.

Apple doesn't use Trusted Computing [boingboing.net] .

Re:command list (mirror) (1)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777449)

As noted in that article, that's only true for the newer Mac Pros. Though, it was my understanding that Apple previously used it to make sure their OS wouldn't run on non-apple HW... if they dropped it from the Mac Pros, I wonder if they are going to continue to do this.

Anyways, the iPhone runs the ARM processor (most likely from Samsung, as several sources have suggested). I am led to believe from those articles that the ARM processors have a Trusted Computer Mode built in, so it's there regardless of whether Apple wants it or not (much like Jazelle, which is used for Java). Again, it's not clear whether or how Apple may choose to use it.

Re:command list (mirror) (3, Interesting)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777547)

From the Singh [osxbook.com] linked in the Boing Boing segment:

The media has been discussing "Apple's use of TPM" for a long time now. There have been numerous reports of system attackers bypassing "Apple's TPM protection" and finding "Apple's TPM keys." Nevertheless, it is important to note that Apple does not use the TPM. If you have a TPM-equipped Macintosh computer, you can use the TPM for its intended purpose, with no side effect on the normal working of Mac OS X.

Re:command list (mirror) (1)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777651)

That is indeed what Singh claims, and for the most part I believe him to be completely correct. Apple does not use TPM for applications running on the OS. HOWEVER, if you might remember, OS X did not easily run on non-apple PCs, even though in theory they should be the same. Articles such as:

http://daringfireball.net/2005/08/trusted [daringfireball.net]

state that Apple specifically used TPM as a means to keep OS X running only on signed Apple HW. This is based off of what the OSx86 grouped claimed (who wrote the hack to get it working on the PCs). So if it's not true, then either they're lying, the hack doesn't really work, or there's misinformation about what happened.

Of course, all of this is besides the point. The hardware on the iPhone exists to do TPM, and to sign the binaries. Apple does not have a past of doing this, but it's not impossible for them to either .. it is a common practice for people who make cell phones. Given Apples past, and the fact they haven't yet used signed binaries (as you've pointed out), it seems more likely that they're disallowing unauthorized third-party apps simply by making it a pain in the ass to load them on to the phone.

Re:command list (mirror) (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776781)

bootx boot a kernel cache at specified address

Is it just me, or does this sound like it has the potential to allow booting custom kernels? BootX [wikipedia.org] is the name of the bootloader in Mac OS X, after all. fsboot also has potential if you can overwrite /kernelcache.

list games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777253)

how about a nice game of chess?

Re:command list (mirror) (5, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777383)

Don't forget the essentials:
IDSPISPOPD - no clipping (walk through walls with iPhone)
IDBEHOLDS - Berserker! With iPhone!
IDDQD - God/Steve Jobs mode (not just a seafood restaurant, but a reservation at that restaurant)

HAHA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776521)

Unlike Microsoft, Apple can't make anything that doesn't get hacked. Imagine if Apple tried to copy the Xbox like they copied the Microsoft's smart phones. Their Apple hardware would be ripped off! Idiots.

The captcha is "hustles."

P.S.: I am a member of the GNAA
http://www.gnaa.us/ [www.gnaa.us]

Re:HAHA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776619)

P.S.: I am a member of the GNAA

Why boast being a member of a has-been trolling organization that has nearly zero accomplishments to boast about in the last several years?

Re:HAHA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776643)

Actually, the GNAA has accomplished a lot. Like first post on Slashdot! :)

The captcha is "specify."

Re:HAHA (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776639)

Imagine if Apple tried to copy the Xbox like they copied the Microsoft's smart phones. Their Apple hardware would be ripped off! Idiots.

You mean like how IBM's opening of the PC just as Apple closed theirs (with Lisa and the initial Mac)? And laughed all the way to the bank as the PC took over the world - with IBM selling "true blue" desktop hardware into the business market for years while the clones became the standard for home users.

Yeah, what Idiots. B-)

Re:HAHA (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776739)

I may be misunderstanding someone here, but I believe the GP was calling Apple idiots for having closed hardware, whereas you're showing how IBM's open hardware made them a success. I'm not sure how these two mesh, especially considering how "Apple" and "open" are basically antonyms. Am I misunderstanding someone here? Please enlighten me if so.

Re:HAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776741)

Ungrounded Lightning, you are the true idiot! IBM lost millions to manufacturers like Compaq because the clones were better machines. IBM was stupid enough not to lock down their hardware from reverse engineering (giving a lot specs away). Then they couldn't even complete with companies like Compaq who built faster and had more storage! Another bad business decision by IBM!

The captcha is "offing."

P.S. GNAA owns! - TrollaxorClone

Re:HAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776923)

"IBM was stupid enough not to lock down their hardware"

You mean like:

"Compuserve/AOL was stupid enough not to lock down the Internet".
"Victor was stupid enough not to lock down VHS". (Like Betamax did)
"Mozaic was stupid enough not to lock down the browser code".
"Linus was stupid enough not to lock down Linux". (like Minux did) ...

Perhaps you do not know why open standards become a success.

Competing with an open standard is hard in the long run.

Actually, IBM is still doing ok compared to Compaq/DEC/HP.

Re:HAHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777079)

Competing with an open standard is hard in the long run.

I dunno, MS seems to be doing ok.

About "IBM"... (1)

larzluv (518884) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777465)

The clones came because IBM designed - by choice, but not really considering the concept of a "clone" - the IBM "Personal Computer" around cheap, off-the-shelf parts. The BIOS was simple, and (relatively) easy to re-engineer. As far as the "reverse engineering" part: any decent electronics enthusiast with an oscilloscope could have done so. ("Off the shelf parts...")

They didn't create an "open" system, in terms of planning-/allowing-for compatibles. They actually only copied Apple's ][ regard to the slotted design. It was an obvious way to allow for an upgradable system, which had many perceived positive aspects for recurring business and loyalties of their purchasers.

Even so, IBM's biggest threat was not the clones per se, but rather IBM's unwillingness to be competitive. The technology changes from the PC to the XT, finally to the AT were too little, and far too long in the coming. IBM was still the 800 pound gorilla, so they led the industry in terms of the design, but not in performance.

The openness of the PC architecture wasn't the problem. The clones weren't the problem. IBM's pride, its hubris, was.


Cheers,
Larz

Re:HAHA (1)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777173)

re:IBM

Does IBM still make home computers?

Some win.

Re:HAHA (4, Insightful)

gig (78408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777333)

IBM didn't open the IBM PC, Compaq did. That is well known. It's Compaq's one and only claim to fame, and the reason their name is a play on "compatible."

The IBM PC came out in 1982 and competed with the Apple II throughout the 80's. That was Apple's business machine. The Apple II had more slots than IBM PC and years of hardware hacking documentation behind it, as well as color display, and Woz' encouragement. If the battle was openness then Apple II would win. Instead what happened was the 98% of businesses that had IBM Selectric typewriters bought IBM PC's.

As for the Mac, it sold really well to an entirely different market because it was the only computer with graphics, typography, laser printer. In 1984 you did typesetting the same way it was done in 1884, but by 1988 you were using a Mac. The IBM PC and the Mac simply did not compete with each other.

Looks more like a boot loader to me (3, Insightful)

n2rjt (88804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776523)

The list of commands given make it sound more like a boot loader than a shell.

But that's what you WANT. (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776607)

The list of commands given make it sound more like a boot loader than a shell.

Yep. Sounds like a bootstrapping and image management firmware. (A pretty capable one, though. Not some minimalist system launcher.)

But isn't that what you WANT if you're trying to establish control of your machine? Why live within the old image's limitations if you can replace it?

Meanwhile this has lots of debugging and control tools suitable for tweaking and reverse-engineering the running image And that command list sure looks like it will let you load and launch a debugging tool that's more capable and give that tool even more control of the running system than is built into this firmware.

This machine is about to be opened, whether Apple likes it or not.

(I wouldn't be surprised if - at some level within the company - they really wanted it to be opened and only launched it in closed form so they could write contracts with networking companies and obtain FCC type approval. Plausible deniability at work.)

Re:But that's what you WANT. (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777135)

Could you please explain the difference? It seems like a shell to me. I mean, tftp isn't something you launch from a boot loader, is it?

Re:But that's what you WANT. (2, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777305)

> I mean, tftp isn't something you launch from a boot loader, is it?

Said by someone who thinks a PC BIOS is a boot loader. New World (iMac forward?) and newer Mac roms can do it, darned near every "workstation" can do it.

Even a lot of $30 routers have boot loaders that can do tftp... once you solder on the headers to get at the serial console port like was done to the iPhone Heck, even a PC's PXE net booting involves DHCP to get an address/etc and then followed by a tftp.

Re:But that's what you WANT. (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777387)

Actually it's fairly common, I believe. TFTP does stand for Trivial File Transfer Protocol. It's specifically designed to be simple and easy to implement.

Re:But that's what you WANT. (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777577)

I mean, tftp isn't something you launch from a boot loader, is it?


tftp is something you'd probably ONLY launch from a firmware interface... to download a kernel.

The fact that there's an option to boot a specific kernel tells me that this is definitely a firmware command line. No OS is running yet.

the replacement is obvious (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777145)

This device needs Linux.

Get that, and still functioning as a phone, and life will be good.

Apps? Yeah! Quick, somebody add multi-touch support to xeyes.

Re:Looks more like a boot loader to me (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776901)

The list of commands given make it sound more like a boot loader than a shell.
Indeed. In fact, it looks eerily like u-boot.

Re:Looks more like a boot loader to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777075)

Got a u-boot screenshot?

Re:Looks more like a boot loader to me (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777109)

Check out the iPhone Dev Wiki here [fiveforty.net] . As of 10:15 PM (July 6th) they are here [fiveforty.net] :

* A serial console is now working to the device. It requires a 6.8k resistor from pin 21 to ground, and tie pin 11 (sergnd) to the real ground. You can use iPhoneInterface to send some commands in recovery mode (setenv debug-uarts 1, saveenv, and reboot), and then you'll be in the boot loader.

        * Some of us believe that the boot loader is the key to really unlocking the radio but we have several other approaches a serial console has enabled us to test. A few of us have been hard at work on some proof of concept code for these pieces, and we will release them as available.

        * We know exactly how to unlock the radio right now. The problem is, getting the commands to the radio has proved more difficult than we anticipated. We have a couple of different potential vectors:
                    o The boot loader's memory display and writing commands, or the ability to send commands to the radio directly using 'radio send'. Many of these commands report permission denied. We are interested in getting around this.
                    o bbupdater and imeisv can do interesting things with the radio. We are trying to get to the point where we can run these commands and get output back.

        * We have made some really good progress getting third party apps to run on the phone. More information on this will be available soon.

Now we just need a bunch... (1)

LinuxEagle (1123659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776559)

Imagine a bewulf cluster of iPhones!

I don't get it (5, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776571)

There are thousands of phones out there - why concentrate such incredible efforts on the iPhone specifically? Don't the other phones out there need to... uhmmm...

Oh, ok, the other phones have API and aren't locked to AT&T.

I get it now.

Re:I don't get it (1)

calvy (1123141) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776727)

Have ANY of those others been even nearly as successful as the iPhone has already been?

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776825)

Have ANY of those others been even nearly as successful as the iPhone has already been?

I advise you to look at hard numbers when talking about success, since "recent hype" metrics are wildly inaccurate.

For example, let's see, I have a Sony Ericsson. How many were sold from this one model? 22 million in Q1 2007 (3 months).

How many has iPhone sold? 0.5 million. Of course, iPhone is just hot out of the oven, but I only trust numbers, so I'll wait and see how it does for, say, 3 months.

If it tops other phone makers, I'll agree with your sentiment.

Re:I don't get it (1)

gig (78408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777115)

I don't think he was suggesting that iPhone has outsold all other phones in total volume just in its first few days. However the amount of iPhones sold so far is more than Razr sold in is first month and it went on to become the best-selling phone of all time. So iPhone is very popular.

Re:I don't get it (5, Informative)

forlornhope (688722) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777365)

I have a hard time believing any phone sold 22 million in 3 months. Maybe over the lifetime of the phone. Lets ask google what it thinks.

http://www.nokiaphoneblog.com/2007/04/news_sony_er icssons_earnings_r.html [nokiaphoneblog.com]

That says 21.8 million units in that time period. After some more quick googling, it seems that they have a line consisting of 57 models. Thus, an average of 382k phones per model over that three month period. So, from your statement that the iPhone has sold 500k phones since it was released a week ago, I would say that Apple is having a pretty successful launch.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777617)

Additionally, it seems the number is worldwide shipment of the phones. iPhone is only launched in one country.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776873)

Last I checked, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian all have native APIs with SDKs you can download along with thriving third-party software support. No cracking required! You can run real applications that work without an internet connection and write your applications in languages other than JavaScript.

There may be signing requirements that (at least in the case of Windows Mobile) can be bypassed by disabling signature checks on executables or (a much better solution IMO) adding your own certificate to the list of trusted certificates and signing.

And standard "dumb" phones in the GSM world along with Blackberries have Java 2 ME, which has SDKs you can download to write applications that are downloaded to and run on the device... they can often interface things like sound, Bluetooth, etc., making GPS applications possible.

No hacking required! No funky way to get a serial connection required! Just at least one way to get applications on the phone (which includes over-the-air via the Internet and USB -- sometimes even Bluetooth).

Re:I don't get it (3, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777085)

The problem is, many carriers disable self-made applications or require apps to be signed with a carrier or manufacturer key (e.g. Verizon and BREW for the most annoying example) or they disable features that would otherwise be accessible to unsigned apps (e.g. t-mobile and their recent changes so only signed J2ME apps can access the internet on their phones)

Re:I don't get it (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777189)

The problem is that for smartphones & PDA phones -- the phones with native APIs -- those limits do not apply or are easily bypassed by using your own certificate.

To quote myself from an hour ago:

There may be signing requirements that (at least in the case of Windows Mobile) can be bypassed by disabling signature checks on executables or (a much better solution IMO) adding your own certificate to the list of trusted certificates and signing.

Now that I think of it, that limitation only applies for the actual Smartphone (non-touchscreen) devices. There is nothing stopping you from installing your own certificate or disabling the application certificate checking altogether on Windows Mobile Smartphone. For full-blown Windows Mobile PDAs with touchscreens, this is simply not a problem.

Even on carriers that limit functionality to applications without proper certification, the APIs still exist for those phones and you can do some things. (sorry Verizon users!) But for smartphones/PDA phones, that is nothing to be concerned about/nothing that can't be easily satisfied.

Re:I don't get it (1)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777141)

Yes, but hackers thrive on challenge. And shiny new hardware.
If hackers only did things that were easy, would anyone have written in Malbolge [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

gig (78408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777155)

> Last I checked, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian all have native APIs with SDKs you can download
> along with thriving third-party software support.

You should check again, specifically for the "thriving" part. Phone apps look like 1992's ass.

> No cracking required!

Usually the phones are crippled in some way, so that is not true. In fact it takes master hacking skills just to work some of those phones.

> You can run real applications [on non-iPhone phones]

Can I run a real Web browser? No. Pathetic. The Web is almost 20 years old. When are they going to get around to it?

The phones you're talking about are pocket calculators with phones in them, they make some nerds happy and everyone else miserable. The iPhone is an iPod with a phone AND a Web 2.0 browser in it. People really like it.

The apps that regular people run are MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, eBay, and they want to run the whole app, not just see some snippets of text out of each page with no formatting. So for most users the iPhone is a better application platform than other phones.

Re:I don't get it (2, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777413)

Opera Mobile [opera.com] isn't a real web browser?

Re:I don't get it (3, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777649)

You should check again, specifically for the "thriving" part.

commercial software: Handago [handago.com] Smartphone.net [smartphone.net]
free software: FreewarePPC [freewareppc.com] Freeware Palm [freewarepalm.com]

There are thousands of third-party downloadable applications for PPCs, Smartphones, Palm OS devices, Series 60 devices, etc., etc. Anyone can download an SDK and make their own apps with access to a suite of communication, sound, storage, and animation APIs.
Number of third-party downloadable applications for the iPhone that aren't web applications: zero.

Phone apps look like 1992's ass.

Most phone application developers do not consider "look pretty" a huge priority.

Usually the phones are crippled in some way, so that is not true.

What the fuck are you talking about? My Samsung Blackjack runs any application I throw at it. The default WM Smartphone configuration only runs signed programs: to fix this problem you can either add your own certificate (a matter of going to a URL with the certificate and answering Yes to a few promprts) or plugging in the device and running a program that disables all application locks.
Pocket PC and Palm OS devices do not have signature requirements that I'm aware of.

The iPhone does not have the ability to run arbitrary programs natively at all. Just web apps.

Can I run a real Web browser? No.

Series 60 phones often ship with Opera. Opera & a port of Mozilla called Minimo is available for Windows Mobile.

The phones you're talking about are pocket calculators with phones in them

Every smartphone I have ever used has used some sort of ARM CPU, recent ones often around 400MHz. Compare this to the 620MHz iPhone ARM CPU (WebKit needs all that power to render HTML...)

The iPhone is an iPod with a phone AND a Web 2.0 browser in it. People really like it.

I'm sure people really like it if they want to use Web 2.0 applications and listen to music. But what if they want to do something that isn't possible with the included software and isn't implementable in the iPhone's JavaScript environment?
Last I checked, there were no APIs acessible from JavaScript on the iPhone that allowed access to just about anything. No Bluetooth (so no GPS), no sound, no fancy graphics, no file access -- nothing interesting.

There are other phones that play music and do a better job of surfing the internet for cheaper: often cheap enough that you could still buy an iPod nano if you wanted.

The apps that regular people run are MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, eBay, and they want to run the whole app, not just see some snippets of text out of each page with no formatting. So for most users the iPhone is a better application platform than other phones.

Those applications run just as well on other mobile browsers such as Opera Mobile, for those who like to use the full version. Have you not used mobile applications recently? WEP is dead and pages are now written with XHTML. In fact, with stylesheets, the same HTML can be designed for mobile and normal-sized devices.... and even after the iPhone's widely touted support for full-sized webpages, there are lots of people talking about how they can adapt their app to use the iPhone. Hmm....

For those who don't have the luxury of being in an iPhone-friendly wifi environment, not loading advertisements and (relatively) high-res GUI elements and logos can shave a noticeable amount of time off the loading time: on my 3G device, PayPal's mobile site takes 2 seconds to load. The full site takes almost 10 and uses 122k.

Without downloadable app support, you can't download games for your phone -- you're stuck with web apps. A quick diversion on other phones might be "take a few minutes to download a game once and play it whenever you want". With the iPhone, it's "load the webpage" and hope it's in your cache or wait for the page to download again.

And without some sort of access to things like advanced graphics/animation, Bluetooth, sound, etc., you're seriously limited. Who knows what kind of cool applications people could come up with? Certainly there would be applications that simply aren't possible using what's made available through Safari.

Re:I don't get it (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777053)

Have ANY of those others been even nearly as successful as the iPhone has already been?

I've seen way more RAZR's and Blackberrys than I have iPhones...

On a more serious note.. (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776831)

We could be seeing some validation of the old theory that MS gets hacked more because it is so much more visible than other software (not that I buy into that as a sole reason for the number of MS exploits).

OTOH I don't keep up with cellphone tech.. so maybe the iPhone really deserves this much attention. Last I heard, though, there were other phones out there that offered many more computer-like features than the iPhone... which I have heard lacks some very basic PDA-like features that are becoming standard on other phones.

Regards.

who gives a fuck? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776613)

iphones are for fags and snobs. fuck them! it's for faggots sucking them dicks.

Re:who gives a fuck? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776929)

Many (most?) of the Apple crowd are latent (if not overt) homosexuals. Generally they are insecure and low on self-esteem. They buy into the Apple cult in order to feel "special", sort of like paying a whore for "love". They deserve our pity, rather than our scorn.

Re:who gives a fuck? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777191)

Id take that over "Beanbag / Propeller-Hat, Pepsi-drinking Jew" any day.

(Which we know is synonymous with Linux / Open Sores, / -- 24/7 lotion-by-keyboard masturbatory -faggots.)

It's the iShell (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776633)

As in iShelled out a lot of cash for this phone. Am I nuts?!

Re:It's the iShell (3, Funny)

Hikaru79 (832891) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777023)

As in iShelled out a lot of cash for this phone. Am I nuts?!

I think you mean, "am iNuts?" :)

Re:It's the iShell (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777059)

iNsane, actually.

apple sues in 5,4,3,2.... (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776663)

Take down notice is pending, you watch

duh (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776735)

command shift u, click on Terminal.app. oh, wait...

Developing for the mobile market... (1)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776763)

Why hack when you can simply develop on one of the many more open mobile development platforms? Like for example Microsoft Windows Mobile?

It's the classic tale that Apple seems to have not yet learnt, the only way to gain long term success in a market is to allow 3rd parties to develop under your platform and support you. If you fail to provide the appropriate level access to your systems your competition will, and those looking for a mobile development platform will move to the competition.

Apple should be the ones providing the development platform for the IPhone to third parties not hackers.

Re:Developing for the mobile market... (5, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777003)

Not trying to flame here, but it never ceases to amaze me that people will just assume that Apple is completely short-sighted. There are billions of dollars at stake, and Apple has been working on this device for years. Do you really think that they haven't considered this carefully? That there is some "classic tale" that somehow people at Apple are too blind to see?

Apple has learned many lessons, and many of them are much more relevant to the success of the iPhone than the decision in the early days of the Mac to not license the operating system. They have learned that you don't necessarily need the most apps, you need great apps. The iPhone, one way or another, will have great apps. From the iPod, they have learned that keeping full control over the device enables them to move more nimbly, unlike the cumbersome PlaysFor{not}Sure system developed by Microsoft.

Windows Mobile is already out there and has been out there for years. Yet, the iPhone can come along and make an immediate, serious impact on the market. Apple knows what it is doing, and they will do with the iPhone what they need to do to keep it competitive.

Re:Developing for the mobile market... (0)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777119)

They have learned that you don't necessarily need the most apps, you need great apps.
But as a consumer, it's terrible. Yes they put out great apps, but it still comes down to the fact that Apple is the sole decider in how you will use their device. You have no choice; it's either their way or the highway.

It just baffles me when people scream about MS/Sony/Nintendo/etc locking down their devices for things like homebrew, but when Apple does the exact same thing it's suddenly ok.

Re:Developing for the mobile market... (1)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777603)

Firstly let me start by saying the Apple II and the Apple MAC had far more hype surrounding it when they were first released than the IPhone does today. Without a bail out from Microsoft in the late 90's Apple and its platform would have perished.

The measure of IPhones success will be 20 years from now, not at the time it's launched.

As was the case with the PC market in it's early stages, from the user perspective there have been lots of issues and problems with Windows Mobile phones. Marrying an OS platform from one company with hardware and software from another is not simple, and pretty much impossible to do right until after repeated attempts. As with the PC market eventually it will be right for the average consumer, to date it's really only been a satisfactory for the technology enthusiast.

The problem with Windows Mobile, is that it has attempted to apply the same ideology to the mobile market as what was done in the PC market, and it has experienced similar technical problems to the PC market in it's early stages. Adopting companies are small, inexperienced, lacking quality control, they are technologically lagging major players, lacking marketing and distribution channels. Windows Mobile is waiting for it's Dell, Compaq etc. Unlike the PC market the competition in the mobile market is well established and the user base is far less tolerant of the glitches that have plagued many of the Windows Mobile devices.

So in the short term, yes you're right, Apple should feel right at home competing against the like's of Sony, Nokia etc who share their closed system ideology. But do you really believe this sort of ideology will last forever?

Re:Developing for the mobile market... (4, Insightful)

gig (78408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777231)

> It's the classic tale that Apple seems to have not yet learnt, the only way to gain long term success in a market
> is to allow 3rd parties to develop under your platform and support you.

You are making the mistake of thinking "3rd party development == C coders."

The iPod has millions of third-party developers. They make music and movies. For example, Disney/Pixar, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, 20th Century Fox.

The iPhone has millions of third-party developers. They make Web apps. For example, YouTube, Flickr, eBay, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

An hour into your iPhone ownership you probably have the work of hundreds if not thousands of third-parties on your iPhone. Throughout an iPhone's two year life span (both the hardware and service contract are $X/month for 24 months) a typical user will probably have 1000x the third-party data in their iPhone than if they were using another phone. The iPhone has so much more storage, syncs so much more easily with your music and movies, and has a real Web browser and Wi-Fi so you can chew up a lot of Web over two years.

So if your standard for greatness is third-parties then you have predicted iPhone's impending world domination.

Re:Developing for the mobile market... (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777609)

The iPhone has millions of third-party developers. They make Web apps. For example, YouTube, Flickr, eBay, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.


Interesting.. except that the iPhone can't actually use YouTube. Apple had to write a special program (in ObjC).

Smells like Open Firmware (2, Informative)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776783)

Not that that's a bad thing. Here's Wikipedia:

Open Firmware (also, OpenBoot) is a hardware-independent firmware (computer software which loads the operating system), developed by Mitch Bradley at Sun Microsystems, and used in post-NuBus PowerPC-based Apple Macintosh computers, Sun Microsystems SPARC based workstations and servers, IBM POWER systems, Pegasos systems, and the laptop designed by OLPC among others. It is available under a BSD license. The proposed Power Architecture Platform Reference will also be Open Firmware based. On those computers, Open Firmware fulfills the same tasks as BIOS does on PC computers.

It is accessed, by users, by a Forth-based shell interface. Forth is a powerful high-level language. For example, it is possible to program Open Firmware to solve the Tower of Hanoi problem.
So, can you run your vast collection of bash scripts? Probably not. But Forth is a pretty cool language that's fun to play with.

Re:Smells like Open Firmware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776935)

That brings back memories... back in the early 80s, I had access to a PDP 11 running AT&T unix for scientific simulations. That got replaced with a VAX with VMS. Rather than try to learn DCL, I wrote a sh clone in forth. It didn't have all the modern features of bash, of course, but it was more flexible than the AT&T/unix shells from that time. After backporting it to run on unix, the code got ported to comp.sources.unix, although the ensuing C Vs Forth flamewar was pretty brutal.

Re:Smells like Open Firmware - It's not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777045)

As someone that works with Open Firmware / Partition Firmware, its not.

Re:Smells like Open Firmware - It's not. (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777441)

And if you want one w/o the 2-year contract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776837)

Just find someone with bad credit [yahoo.com] !

Personally, I'll be holding out for an open source, open hardware phone [openmoko.org] . Looks much better for me. Cheaper, And built in GPS. Compare for yourself. [openmoko.org]

Re:And if you want one w/o the 2-year contract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19776921)

Bigger,
Heavier,
Less storage,
Smaller screen (twice the resolution - but do you really need a 300ppi screen, when text is still going to be too small to read?),
USB 1.1

I'm not really seeing it as a clear winner...

Re:And if you want one w/o the 2-year contract... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19777111)

cheaper... expandable to 8 gigs just like iphone... gps....

and you can really write actual software for it.

I hear the guitar tuner is already done.

That's not a shell. That's the boot loader. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776895)

From the command list, they're talking to the boot loader, not the operating system. That's nice, but rather low level. You can load another operating system image, so there's the potential of booting a different OS, if someone writes the appropriate drivers. Somebody will probably boot Linux eventually, but mostly as a curiosity.

Thanks guys (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19776941)

I now preemptively welcome our iPhone Skynet masters.

Way to go!

These guys are total wusses! (5, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777031)

I just got back from seeing Live Free or Die Hard. That Mac Guy from the advertisements can hack into the electric grid of the entire eastern United States in a matter of minutes (all while distracted by that sexy new Japanese camera model that speaks his language, hajimemashite, say no more, say no more), using nothing but a little rollup USB keyboard and a stolen Verizon mobile. What the hell is taking YOU guys so long to hack into this iPhone thing? Think Different! ;)

Open Suggestion to the Editors (1, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777081)

Hey guys... if you're gonna go over the top like this, how about giving iPhone it's own category, so those of us who are sane can ignore them, huh? With the number of iPhone stories, it should be "Slashdot: News about the iPhone (and some other stuff)".

Re:Open Suggestion to the Editors (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777417)

Damn...wish I had mod points this week. Your post needs to be moded +100 "Most intelligent post made this year".

I have nothing against the iPhone, and people are welcome to buy them all they want. But I don't want one (I won't even consider buying a phone that does not work with Verizon Wireless), nor do I want to read 4700 articles a day about them.

Re:Open Suggestion to the Editors (3, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777439)

Hey guys... if you're gonna go over the top like this, how about giving iPhone it's own category, so those of us who are sane can ignore them, huh?
Alternatively, you could simply ignore stories that have "iPhone" in the title...

Gee, why did it take so long? (0, Offtopic)

John Sokol (109591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777389)


  Sound like a lot of fun, but I would never bother with anything from Apple no matter how cool they act.

  But my heart would really flutter with joy when I see a fat penguin on that screen though.

Doctor Who and Arch Angel (-1, Offtopic)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777519)

I've been watching Doctor Who episodes in-time with the UK releases (they just finished season three while we are just starting the third season in America). So, if you're just starting to watch season three, don't read my post.

Anyway . . .

The insane clamor over the iPhone release has amused me in light of recent episodes of Doctor Who. This season saw the popularization of a cell phone network called Arch Angel that reached every cell phone on the planet. The Arch Angel Network was massively popular among everyone. Little did they know, it was actually a sort of subliminal network that was feeding into the brains of every user, in preparation of The Master's attempt to take over the planet. It was also later used by The Doctor who reversed his aging (brought on by The Master) by tying the entire planet together, mentally.

Leave it up to Apple... (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777551)

to be hypocritical when it comes to security.

Two words. "alpine" and "dottie".

I thought of a Unix shell when I first read this (1)

mrnick (108356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19777621)

Now that would have been something!

Good luck, hope this leads to that otherwise I don't see the point.

Nick Powers
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