back to article Apple eyes kill switch for jailbroken iPhones

Apple has applied for a patent covering an elaborate series of measures to automatically protect iPhone owners from thieves and other unauthorized users. But please withhold the applause. The patent, titled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” would also protect Apple against …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Why bother with Apple?

    Skeletor is such a control freak and treats his customers like total fucking idiots. Just another reason I will never give Apple another cent of my money.

    Time for that tired old twat to retire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Why bother?

      Because they've trapped all the smaller developers and locked them into the iTunes Store (which, thanks to their no-middleware-library policy combined with Apple's overzealous patenting of their API, means that porting iOS code to other platforms or vice versa constitutes for a full rewrite which is costly to smaller development houses). While this thankfully means that there's way lesser prank/fart/useless/annoying apps in the market for other devices now, many seriously useful apps are also affected.

      My iPad has three dozen stuff, half of them paid for. Over half of them does not have a Symbian/WinMo/Android port. And over half of them are apps I found highly desirable.

      Beer, because it cost me one month wages for that iPad, and I need to ease the pain.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      I can not agree...

      With not giving them *another* cent --- because I have never given them any so far.

      Apart from that... Have a beer!

    3. DN

      Stop Freaking Out:

      1) A patent application does nor mean that it will be implemented as described

      2) There are a several reasons where the idea actually makes sense, possibly with an opt-out

      See article on Forbes blog: "Stop Freaking Out: No, Apple Is Not Seizing Control Of Your iPhone"

      http://blogs.forbes.com/briancaulfield/2010/08/22/stop-freaking-out-no-apple-is-not-seizing-control-of-your-iphone/?boxes=techchanneltopstories

      1. Tigra 07
        FAIL

        Massive Fail!

        "Rest assured that this jailbreaking identification, the application would have us believe, is simply a means of protecting owners from unauthorized users."

        It's an Orwellian means of protecting your income

        Massive Fail!

        Worse than anything Google has ever done!

      2. MyHeadIsSpinning
        Big Brother

        I disagree

        I have read the Forbes article, the writer appears to be saying what a good idea it would be if Apple wwere granted their patent and if they went ahead with this. It talks about Apple as protecting 'it's devices'.

        It is not a good idea - I bought the i-Phone, it does not belong to Apple or Steve Jobs.

        You hear that Steve? My phone, not yours.

        Leave me the hell alone Steve.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Title

        Shouldn't the blog be entitled:

        "Stop Freaking Out: No, Apple Is Not Seizing Control Of Your iPhone: they're just setting up the framework to do so in the code so if they choose to at a later date they will already have the infrastructure in place."

        Sounds a lot like Obama's plan to be able to 'turn off the internet' whenever he decides there is an emergency warranting it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Umm...

    Pardon me if I've misunderstood, but I was under the impression that jailbreaking one's iDevice was now entirely legal (providing one does not then continue by pirating software)?

    And presumably, when this goes wrong Apple will need to have their legal eagles ready to fly, because if I get snapped using my own device I won't be a happy bunny.

    (I for one welcome our Orwellian overlords etc, etc.)

    1. Lou Gosselin

      Re: Umm...

      The courts confirmed that jailbreaking is legal. This isn't nearly as significant as one might initially think.

      It just means apple (or sony, or tivo, etc) cannot sue it's customers for jailbreaking their own devices. However apple are under no obligation to support them once they do. It remains apple's prerogative to block jailbroken devices from their services if they so choose to turn their backs on these paying customers.

      As for remotely killing a jailbroken phone, that's a major invasion of customer rights in my opinion. I'm guessing that the "R&D" on this patent predates the new ruling. They might not have filed it as they did had they known that jailbreaking was to be made expressly legal.

      1. Player_16
        Welcome

        Re: Umm...

        My phone's been nicked!

        Sic'm Apple!... and be quick about it!

        Sounds OK to me.

        There's a warrant for that!

      2. Mark Broadhurst
        Jobs Horns

        Re: Umm...

        I agree with you and apple that people should not expect apple to support unlocked or jailbroken phones (or any other type of hardware).

        But disabling or spying on the user sounds like its more than a bit illegal.

      3. Mad Jack
        Alert

        Oh, so removing the SIM card is gonna be a crime now?

        "....specifically describes the identification of “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card”

        Un-effing-believable.

        Heaven help us all. I think I need some 'roid rage - heading out to buy an android phone now.

  3. M Gale

    Think Different?

    I tell you what, Jobs, how about you let me decide whether the phone has been stolen? How about by, say, providing a number to ring so I can get the IMEI locked out - LIKE EVERY OTHER PHONE IN THE UNIVERSE?

    The worst part is, there's a hell of a lot of people who are either completely ignorant or downright apathetic about the consequences of these ever more ubiquitous computing devices being less and less under the control of their supposed "owners". The ignorant can at least be educated, but there's not much you can do about "I just don't give a shit" or worse, "I completely agree with Apple!"

    Problem is, when the kill switches start being flipped, it's everyone else who gets caught up in it and not just the numpties. Well, enjoy your pretty brick. It was fun while it lasted.

    1. Chad H.
      Stop

      Well...

      1) they do have an imei on their phones, it's a requirement of the GSM standard

      2) the imei blacklist isn't enabled in all locations, like the USA.

      3) an IMEI block only stops calls being made, and can only do this if and only if you know your phone is missing and you've contacted your carrier

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Well...

        "3) an IMEI block only stops calls being made, and can only do this _if and only if you know your phone is missing_ and you've contacted your carrier"

        Mate 1: Oi! I got mugged last night and the bloke took me phone!

        Mate 2: Call up your carrier, mate - get it blocked and tracked.

        Mate 1: I can only do that if it's missing, but I know it was taken, instead!

        Mate 2: Fair Dinkim. Have a beer.

        Not even Aussies/Kiwis/Kentucky Rednecks would fall for that logic. All lost/stolen iPhones up to this point have been perfectly happy to be reporting GPS to appropriate authorities, through Apple, of course. Wasn't that part of the whole "safe and secure" ad campaign?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      From: E.T.

      "LIKE EVERY OTHER PHONE IN THE UNIVERSE?"

      That's extremely presumptuous. You humans!

  4. skeptical i
    Thumb Down

    They see it when it's sleeping, they know when it's awake.

    The Apple- of- my- Eye- of- Sauron tracks how much memory my iPhone uses? Unless I'm on a bizarre payment system that bills me based on memory usage, who cares if I let it sleep all day or bury the needle on a regular basis?

    We are not amused.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Title

      "bury the needle on a regular basis"

      I'm still laughing. You're gonna owe me a new keyboard for that one.

      /Is that what your wife calls it?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    what bullshit!

    If I purchased a Judas Phone, it's my property. If I want to strip myself nekkid, put a rubber glove on my head, cover my body with baby oil and dance around the fire I set to sacrafice it, screaming I'm a squid!!! I'm a squid!! that doesn't give them the legal right to take my photo and/or record my location.

    1. Lionel Baden
      Joke

      true but ...

      There would be comedial plus points to your photo being taken in that state.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Title

      Photos or it didn't happen...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Pint

        @ Lionel and Pete B.

        I'm going to have to respectfully decline that one; I'm thinking of safety, welfare, mental health and visual acuity of: “The children”; society in general; animals (domestic and feral); mirrors world-wide and any members of the law enforcement community that would be required to apprehend me, after said event.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Thanks Apple

    So because Apple have patented this, that means if anyone else (Google/MS etc.) also try to do the same, they're liable to be sued by Apple?

    1. Danny 14
      Stop

      probably not

      there are already commercial services that do similar things on laptops. I seem to remember one being tied to hard drives too.

      It will become a prior art lawsuit. Viva la USA, land of sue.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    iBomb

    Why don't Apple just go the whole hog and insist that their phones (suitably reduced in size) are implanted subdermally and fitted with a small remotely triggered explosive device so that any tampering with their intellectual property/business model can be firmly dealt with in a way that sets an example to others? A future development might be to connect it to the brain to better monitor if any users have thoughts that may be inappropriate for users of Apple technologies, and administer an instant product destruct - a good perusal of the magnificent breasts displayed by the girl sitting opposite on the tube would be an obvious candidate, as would less than charitable thoughts about Apple's increasingly megalomaniac leanings.

    I by and large love Apple's computers and OS, having used nothing else for over twenty years, but I am really, really beginning to detest the direction the company has been taking for the last few years and their increasingly 'control freak' mentality. The iPad merely looked like a "so-so if you like that sort of thing" idea until Murdoch started drooling over it. When your snoop-friendly closed system OS starts giving a bigger boner to media moguls with a dubious rep than it does to experienced users, you're heading for the territory usually occupied by Phorm, Facebook and their ethically challenged ilk. Thanks, but errm, fuck off.

    1. Jason Yau
      Coat

      Less iPhone users

      means less people buying fart apps

      Mine's the one with cups and string in the pocket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        "Fewer"

        HTH.

      2. Disco-Legend-Zeke
        Pint

        AT&T...

        ...once ran an ad showing how advanced their systems were. It featured the competition using a pair of cans and some string.

        However, they failed to show the strings being held taut, a requirement for operation in the string-can domain.

        Not sure weather AT&T was unaware of the proper string-can technology, or was merely trying to hide it from potential competition.

        Beer because my GF is back from vacation and 211 is in the fridge again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @iBomb

      You should watch the episode of Futurama called "Attack of the Killer App", pretty much the same as you were suggesting and very funny too.

      (Don't bother if you are a Jobs/Facebook/Twitter fanboi tho, you'd probably end up crying instead of laughing).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Title

      "I by and large love Apple's computers and OS, having used nothing else for over twenty years"

      Ouch, I didn't know unemployment was that bad...

  8. lotus49
    Jobs Horns

    Android for me

    I have been mulling over whether to buy the rather lovely looking iPhone 4 to replace my iPhone 3G for some time. I was already leaning towards the idea of Android because of the excessive control Apple exerts over the apps.

    This really takes the biscuit though. This is genuinely unnerving.

    My mind is made up, it's an HTC Ace for me. Bye bye Apple.

    1. g e

      One thumbs-down?

      I guess Honest Steve is reading after all.

      Anyone have a message for him while he's around?

    2. Hoe
      Go

      Good choice...

      I have an iPhone 4 for work (not my choice) and a HTC Desire of my own and the iPhone looks average!

  9. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    Do you get the impression Apple priorities are screwed up?

    You have to wonder what Apples priorities are.

    Here they are in the middle of a technological challenge where Lemon 4 can't maintain telephone calls yet Apple has plenty of resources to deploy on a minuscule proportion of OWNERS who decide they actually want to use THEIR PROPERTY for what THEY want to do.

    Seemingly Apple can't even read tea leaves or sales reports. Their line of PC's were crippled by their 'closed' environment whilst across the street the 'open' PC was being mass produced and had uncounted number of after market companies whose efforts expanded the PC deployment into areas and applications never envisaged by IBM.

    Now Apple has a new toy. Jobs, in his strange world, thinks he is 'loaning' the device to you, even though he claims to 'sell' it to you.

    Again he is trying to confine these devices. This time his competitors are even more advanced and an upstart Android is now giving Jobs a run for his money. Once again, Jobs competitors - at least one - has an OS that is appearing in all manner of devices that it is fast becoming ubiquitous, dare I say it, as ubiquitous as Windows.

    Yet Jobs still seeks ways to lock his followers so they can do no more than HE wants them to. This must be one of the few consumer products that does this. Imagine cars all fitted with governors to limit their speed?

    But let him go ahead for he knows that someone, in some garret, in some corner of the world is working just as diligently to thwart his plans. There is a company in Ha Noi, hardly a centre of technological excellence, in a walk up workshop, is extracting the 'baseband' chips, modifying the contents and restoring the REALLY unbroken Lemon to new heights of functionality.

    Meanwhile, others wonder what mental process has evolved where people deliberately go out and knowingly buy a defective product.

    And poor old Jobs, he still has not achieved the manufacturer of a white Lemon! How humiliating can that be?

    1. david wilson

      @Jaitch

      >>"This must be one of the few consumer products that does this. Imagine cars all fitted with governors to limit their speed?"

      More like having a car that is only allowed to drive to places that the person who sold you the car has decided they approve of this week.

      Seems like a worse situation than with locked game consoles, where there is at least be an expectation that they are simply toys, that most decent games would be likely to be allowed to be published, and that if the console does end up borked, all you lose is one means of playing games.

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Wrong..

      "Seemingly Apple can't even read tea leaves or sales reports. Their line of PC's were crippled by their 'closed' environment whilst across the street the 'open' PC was being mass produced and had uncounted number of after market companies whose efforts expanded the PC deployment into areas and applications never envisaged by IBM."

      PCs are so ubiquitous that some manufacturers are having to sell them at or below cost. Apple are currently one of the most profitable computer manufacturers (despite their tiny market share) and the most cash rich company in Silicon Valley.

      It's also worth noting that IBM found the PC market so profitable that they, err, left it, preferring to concentrate on servers and other specialised systems..

      1. Naughtyhorse
        Thumb Down

        curious....

        "It's also worth noting that IBM found the PC market so profitable that they, err, left it, preferring to concentrate on servers and other specialised systems.."

        is a vey long winded way of saying that ibm 'lacked the sense to see the potential of the pc market' - hence the no-brainer contract with Gates & Co. tying IBM into providing MS-DOS with every IBM PC while allowing MS to sell to whosoever they liked.

        Bit of reverse engineeing of the bios, mass produce in any of the tiger economies... and then IBM were dead ducks and FORCED back to the big iron business, cos there was nowhere else for them to go. (any fule kno IBM desktops were grue anyways and the price was a real chizz)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Title

        "PCs are so ubiquitous that some manufacturers are having to sell them at or below cost. Apple are currently one of the most profitable computer manufacturers (despite their tiny market share) and the most cash rich company in Silicon Valley.

        It's also worth noting that IBM found the PC market so profitable that they, err, left it, preferring to concentrate on servers and other specialised systems.."

        Real computers are also part of the IT distribution system. Apple computers are sold through their own retail locations because frankly no one else was interested in shipping them. With PCs you're looking at three or four companies sharing the profit margin while with Macs Apple takes all the profit.

        Also worth noting that PCs create many more jobs per PC sold compared to Macs.

        IBM leaving the PC market is a much much more complicated issue. They were more along Welch-ian lines ("If you're not number one or number two, get out"). On top of that was IBM's corporate planning model. They don't see personal computers (Windows or Mac) as part of the future of computing. They fully endorse the cloud model and are focused on value adding services for long term revenue/profit.

        Where these two topics converge is market strategy. PCs are a commodity product. Everyone who wants to do something productive needs a PC, the market is well established, there is little variety based on hardware, and essentially all PCs are the same. Even Macs are the same, the OS is their only point of differentiation. In a commodity market the market leader is the one who wins the race to the bottom. This means competition is done on the cost end of the willingness to pay scale. Cost is best lowered by taking advantages of economies of scale, meaning whoever sells the most PCs becomes the most cost effective allowing them to sell cheaper and long term sell more PCs. Being the winner makes it easier to win and keep on winning. Thus, if you are not number one or number two by market share, you get out of the market because you have no chance of success.

        /end economics lesson.

        //http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity

        //http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willingness_to_pay

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Title

      "Here they are in the middle of a technological challenge where Lemon 4 can't maintain telephone calls yet Apple has plenty of resources to deploy on a minuscule proportion of OWNERS who decide they actually want to use THEIR PROPERTY for what THEY want to do."

      Interesting point. If I steal your iPhone and deathgrip it, can Apple still disable it? As long as I don't let go, the phone will never get a signal...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't there prior art for this

    Well, prior art less the BS about jailbreaking, but basically the actually useful stuff has been available on winmo for years

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Winmo?

      Winmo? You're thinking blackberry. Where remote wipe, shutdown, etc is a standard part of the package. One of the reasons that they're so successful in business.

      As for the rest of the patent BS - it's all pie in the sky stuff that's been suggested elsewhere or just included in case Apple ever figure out how to implement it - normal patent trolling really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Winmo

        Yeah, BB had it first, but then MS went ahead and implemented the exact same thing into WinMo 7 last year or earlier this year I think (it was covered in el Reg).

        So yeah, prior art.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Gates Halo

        No,

        It's been there for years (i.e. more than one year) on WinMo via Microsoft System Center's Mobile Device Manager.

    2. JaitcH
      Jobs Horns

      Apple's always stealing others IP

      From the earliest days Apple has always been stealing Intellectual Property which INCLUDES iPad - the name Fujitsu used for their very same product.

      Maybe someone should register a copyright for every combination of the letter "i" so they can out do Jobs!

      1. Ivan Headache
        Thumb Down

        Wrong

        Just read The Register to find out that Apple bought the iPad name from Fujitsu. And by the way, a name is not IP.

        Also you appear to be implying that Apple and Fujitsu are making the same product. Please . The web is full of pictures that clearly show that the two items are as different as Bicycles and carrots.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Title

          "Just read The Register to find out that Apple bought the iPad name from Fujitsu. And by the way, a name is not IP."

          You fanbois really are too much sometimes.

          Apple licensed the name from Fujitsu... after they named the product and launched it... and not before Fujitsu said "uh guys? you don't own that name you know... we'd like the money you're stealing from us".

          Apple was fully planning to steal the name without paying until they were called out on it.

      2. mmiied
        Joke

        how about

        a range of VR specs called the I -GLASS?

        1. musojon74
          Happy

          I-GlassES

          or the I-Glasses - done, many years ago, for the Amiga.

        2. musojon74
          Happy

          or I GlassES

          "a range of VR specs called the I -GLASS?"

          Or the I-Glasses - 3d specs made available many years ago for the Amiga.

  11. asdf
    Flame

    you knew Apple biz model would bite them in the butt eventually

    Even in the dark days of the late 90s when Apple was largely irrelevant their biz model has always been find a small group of people badly searching for an identity and way to be hip and then monetize the crap out of them. Yes they have always made whiz bang future looking stuff often of high quality but as an Apple customer you aren't buying a product, you're buying a lifestyle and you will pay and pay. Apple got lucky with the iPod and filled a niche Sony should have filled (worse mistake Sony ever made as consumer product company was buying movie and music studios). Now they have a large group of nuthuggers fans but lets see if they can keep the fad going while also taking away user rights and generally treating their customers like children.

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