Great Siri search commands

TUAW reader Harris Rydal sent in a bunch of terrific suggestions for using Siri's built-in search features without having to do a lot of typing. These are exceptionally useful ways of taking advantage of Siri-to-Safari tasking.

Sports scores - Look up the current score for in-progress games and find the team record, last game score, and the upcoming game. Say "Yahoo team name score". Rydal points out "There is a 'Yahoo' here because mobile Yahoo formats the results better than Google."

Flight Times - Say "Search the web for flights from City/Airport to City/Airport". In Google, this brings up a list of flight times that day and the associated airline.

Movie Times (and Ticket Purchasing) Say "Search for Movie Name showtimes Optional ZipCode", or if Siri will let you, you may get away with simply "Movie Name showtimes Optional Zipcode". You can also "Search for showtimes Zipcode".

Rydal points out that if you've set Google in Safari to use your current location, you don't even need to specify an area code. Google's Fandango integration allows you to click the showtime and hop over to the ticket purchasing page.

Great Siri search commands originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sun, 23 Oct 2011 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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iPhone prototype N94 leaked, possibly to be an iPhone 4S

There are lots of crazy rumors flying around about the new iPhone announcement coming later on this year (or as soon as next month), but this is one of the more credible. The picture above comes from a site called UbreakIfix through our friends at Engadget, and purports to show a prototype for the iPhone called the N94. It's a long story (which you can click through to read yourself), but essentially, the latest rumor says that this device is the latest testing version of what may become an "iPhone 4S," a slightly cheaper version of the iPhone 4 set to be introduced right alongside the iPhone 5.

Of course, these are all still rumors, and Engadget admits the timing isn't quite right on this one -- this is apparently an "Engineering Verification Test" piece from last March, which makes it older than some of the other prototypes that have reportedly leaked out. It's unknown whether this is the real thing or just another test unit.

But the wheels are clearly in motion on a new iPhone. And if the rumors play out as predicted later on next month, we might see not one but two new iPhones available for purchase.

iPhone prototype N94 leaked, possibly to be an iPhone 4S originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 29 Aug 2011 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple iOS 4.3.4 jailbreak bugfix jailbroken already

Most iPhone and iPad users are perfectly happy with the software on the device as it is shipped by Apple.

A minority, however, prefer to open up their devices. By doing this, they can:

* Run applications and extensions not approved by Apple.

* Download software from alternative appstores, without tying those downloads to an Apple account.

* Access all the files and configuration data on their device directly, in order better to understand and secure it.

Liberating your device sounds like a great idea, but this behaviour has been stigmatised amongst corporate users.

Firstly, the action of removing artificial security restrictions is known as "jailbreaking," making it sound like a doubly-dangerous criminal act. (Since only crooks are supposed to be in jail in the first place, jailbreakers are not only criminals, but recidivists to boot.)

Secondly, jailbreaking opens up the less security-savvy user to additional risks. Some jailbreakers don't take on the additional responsibility which goes with the increased power over their device. That's how the now-infamous iPhone viruses Ikee and Duh were able to spread.

Thirdly, jailbreaking isn't supposed to be possible. So every jailbreak relies on you exploiting a software vulnerability to escape from Apple's artificial strictures. That means you have to trust the creators of the jailbreak not to abuse the exploit you're choosing to run against your device.

The flipside, of course, is that those who don't jailbreak their phones are trusting Apple not to leave the sort of exploitable hole that would permit crooks to break into the internals of their device.

And Apple hasn't been terribly trustworthy on that score. Despite a solid commercial reason for keeping its devices secure - namely, that an unjailbroken device can only shop at the Apple AppStore - few of Apple's operating system versions stay safe for very long.

Early in July, the JailbreakMe site published an automated, on-line method for opening recent iDevices running iOS 4.3.3.

(The jailbreakers also provided a patch by which you could close the remotely exploitable hole, for your own safety, after jailbreaking.)

Apple, to its credit, caught up within two weeks with an iOS update to version 4.3.4, closing the hole used by JailbreakMe.

But the jailbreakers claim to be back in already. By all reports, the latest jailbreak doesn't work for iPad2 users, and it can't be done simply by visiting a website.

You need to plug your device in to a computer, in what's called a "tethered" jailbreak, and you need to re-jailbreak it every time you reboot.

Nevertheless, Apple's latest security fix has been circumvented already.

With this in mind, the tricky question becomes, "Whom should I trust more: Apple or the jailbreakers?"

I can't answer that question - and if your iDevice is provided by your company, you shouldn't try to answer it by yourself.

Perhaps the best way to approach the issue is to rephrase it more equivocally, in the manner of Google, which sets out not to be evil, rather than actually to be good.

So, if you're thinking of jailbreaking, ask yourself, "Do I distrust the jailbreakers." If not, then jailbreaking may be for you. Just be sure to read all the security guidelines associated with the process, and be sure you have the explicit permission of the owner of the device.

PS. I have an iPad. It is jailbroken.

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Apple releases iOS 4.3.4/4.2.9 to fix JailBreakMe.com flaw

Hands holding jail barsAfter a little more than a week after disclosure, Apple has patched three flaws in iOS for iPod Touch, iPad, iPad2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and the Verizon iPhone.

You may recall the return of the website JailBreakMe.com 10 days ago which exploited these vulnerabilities to provide an easy method of jailbreaking your iDevice.

The updated version for all but the Verizon iPhone is version 4.3.4, while Verizon customers can update to 4.2.9. To update just open iTunes, check for updates and plug in your phone/MP3 player/tablet.

This raises one of my big pet peeves with Apple products.. Why do I have to tether to update? Oh! I see you will have that feature in iOS 5? I guess I will stay vulnerable until I happen to be in the same city as my copy of iTunes...

JailBreakMe do not update warningTwo of the fixes are for font handling issues in PDFs that allow for remote code execution (RCE). The third fix is in the graphics handling code and can be exploited to allow for elevation of privilege (EoP).

It appears the JailBreakMe.com hack used at least two of the three flaws to jailbreak the iDevices. It initially downloaded a PDF to gain the ability to run arbitrary code and then sent down a PNG file that elevated itself to root to perform the jailbreak.

If your phone is not jailbroken, I recommend updating as soon as possible. If you have jailbroken your device you will need to decide if you wish to trust the unofficial "patch" on Cydia and stay jailbroken, or if you should join the herd and go with Apple.


Griffin announces a $50 iOS-controlled helicopter

It has no built-in camera beaming video back to your iPhone, and it isn't controlled via Wi-Fi. There are no augmented reality apps that come with it, nor is there (as far as we know) a way to hack the firmware. It only has two full-size rotors instead of four. Despite all of these shortcomings, Griffin's upcoming AppPowered Helo TC may be a popular iOS accessory this Christmas season.

Why? The price. It's much less expensive than the device that I'm comparing it to -- the Parrot AR.Drone. Sure, for US$50 you're not getting a lot (as there are plenty of these without iOS control on the market), and you have to slap an IR transmitter containing 4 AAA batteries onto your iPhone or iPod touch, but one-sixth of the price of the AR.Drone, you can still get the thrill of annoying your pets and significant other.

You can fly the Helo TC at night thanks to five LEDs, and Griffin thoughtfully provides extra rotors to replace those you break while learning to fly it properly. More info from Griffin Technology can be found in the press release below.

Show full PR text
Griffin takes your iOS device to new heights with the Helo TC

Fly a remote controlled helicopter with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

14th July 2011, London, UK: Griffin Technology Inc., maker of innovations for everyday life, today announces the Helo TC, a touch-controlled helicopter that is operated by your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Part of Griffin's latest range of AppPowered Accessories, the Helo TC app turns your iOS device into a remote for an indoor helicopter. Available to buy in time for Christmas, priced at £34.99.

The Helo TC is simple to operate; charge the helicopter from any computer or USB power source, before sliding your compatible iOS device into the included flight deck module. The flight deck transmits infrared signals to the helicopter giving you total flying control. There are two flight modes available, you can use the Multi-Touch display to control the Helo TC's throttle and flight controlled joystick - the cyclic - or enable Helo TC's Tilt-to-Fly, which uses the iOS device's accelerometers,and tilt the device forward, back and side to side to control the helicopter's flight.

The helicopter itself is built on a light weight metal frame with a black polycarbonate body. The twin rotor design is very easy to fly and gives a stable flight but just in case you get a little too over-zealous with your flying techniques; the Helo TC comes with replaceable main and tail rotor systems. And if you are interested in some night-flying the helicopter also has 5 super-bright LEDs. The Helo TC app can record and store up to 3 flight plans, perfect for launching flying-attacks on unsuspecting friends and family.

Product Spec
- Average flight time - approx. 8 minutes
- PolyLithium Fuel Cell - 3.7V @ 180 mAh
- Flight Deck Controller Sled powered by 4 AAA batteries
- Recommended for pilots aged 14 and up
- Suitable for use indoors only
- Helo TC app is a free download from the iTunes App Store; iOS 4.0 required.

Pricing and Availability
Priced at £34.99, the Helo TC will be available for the Christmas season.
For more information, visit www.griffintechnology.com.

About Griffin Technology
Founded on Paul Griffin's kitchen table in 1992, Griffin Technology Inc., is today one of the world's foremost creators of accessories for home, mobile, and personal technology. Unique products such as iTrip(R), PowerMate(R), iFM(R), iMic(R), and Evolve(R) Wireless Speaker System have broken new ground in consumer electronics and created loyal fans the world over. Today, Griffin products are conceived, designed, and developed in-house and continue to push the envelope of the industry they helped create. Learn more about Griffin's entire range of ingenious designs at www.griffintechnology.com.
###

(C) 2011 Griffin Technology Inc. iPhone and iPod are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc. All other product names and trademarks are property of their respective companies.

Griffin announces a $50 iOS-controlled helicopter originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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iPhone 101: Using Voice Control

While we wait for iOS 5 to deliver cool new features, here's a look at Voice Control, a feature introduced with the iPhone 3GS model. There are three types of Voice Control commands: phone, music and other. Here's how to use each.

Launching Voice Control

Of course, you can't use Voice Control until you get it running. You can either hold the Home Button down for about two seconds, or do the same with the middle button on your supplied Apple earbuds. You'll hear a beep and the iPhone's screen will display "Voice Control" with a blue background. Now, let's issue some commands.

Phone commands

Your iPhone understands "call" and "dial." To tell your iPhone to call a contact, say "call" (or "dial") plus the contact's name. For example, saying "Call Janie Smith" will launch the phone app and call Janie's number. If a contact has several numbers (work and home, for example), you can specify which one you want. "Call Janie Smith home" will call Janie's home number.

Calling a number that's not in your contacts list is just as easy. Simply say, "call" plus the number.

Music commands

Voice Control supports a nice list of music commands, from starting and stopping a song to asking about the artist. Here's how to get started.

You can say "play" or "play music" to get the music going. If you've got a song paused when you issue the play command, it will resume. If the iPod app isn't running, it will start at the very first song in your library.

Of course, you can get specific. Voice Control also understands "play playlist [name of playlist]," "play album [name of album]" and "play artist [name of artist]." For example, saying "Play album Dark Side of the Moon" will start the first track of that album, while "Play artist Pink Floyd" will start at the first track of the first album in your Pink Floyd collection (you have one, right?).

While you're at it, create a Genius playlist. While a song you dig is playing, tell Voice Control "Genius play more like this" or "Genius play more songs like this" or simply "play more like this" and it'll create a Genius playlist for you on the spot.

Simple navigation is also possible. Your iPhone understands "pause," "pause music," "next song," "previous song" and "shuffle."

Finally, you can ask your iPhone four questions about the track being played. Specifically, "what's playing," "what song is this," "who sings this song" or "who is this song by."

Miscellaneous commands

Here are a few other commands that don't fit into the previous categories.

"What is the time" or "what time is it." For most people it's quicker to tap the Home Button once and look at the time, but this command will benefit visually impaired users.

"Cancel" and "stop" exit Voice Control.

You can correct a mistake (and there will be plenty. More on that in a minute) by saying, "no," "not that," "nope," "not that one" or "wrong." Write those down now.

Finally, saying "FaceTime" supposedly initiates a FaceTime call. Which brings me to the bad news.

Voice Control works in the way that temporary tattoos look like real tattoos. At first it's passable but upon closer inspection, you see that it's not the real thing (my attempts at initiating a FaceTime call launched a Genesis album). Placing calls was the most reliable function, while the phone had trouble understanding some musical artist's names and was downright befuddled at other times.

That being said, I have friends who swear by it, so perhaps I've got poor diction. Give it a try yourself using the commands listed above, and dream of the day that Siri purchase actually pays off.

Thanks to reader Walt whose email inspired this post!

iPhone 101: Using Voice Control originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 10 Jun 2011 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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iOS 5 reportedly transmits Album/Track/Artist data to Bluetooth audio devices

9to5 Mac notes another unsung feature of iOS 5: when you stream music over Bluetooth to an audio receiver, that receiver will now be able to read the album, track and artist data embedded in the ID3 tag of the song. What that means is your receiver's display (such as one you might find in a newer car like the Prius) will now show you all that information instead of saying something generic like "track 03." Ah, the future is almost here.

iOS 5 reportedly transmits Album/Track/Artist data to Bluetooth audio devices originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 09 Jun 2011 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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What Google and Mastercard’s new mobile payment system could mean for iOS users

Last week saw a major new product announcement from Google: the new "Google Wallet" will allow people with compatible mobile phones to use them to pay for goods and services in shops with a simple wave of their hand. This follows a number of in/out/in/out/shake it all about rumors that this "NFC" stuff might be included in the next iPhone. So what is NFC and why should you care? Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and I'll explain.

Continue reading What Google and Mastercard's new mobile payment system could mean for iOS users

What Google and Mastercard's new mobile payment system could mean for iOS users originally appeared on TUAW on Mon, 30 May 2011 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Using an iPhone app to test for landmines

iPhone mine detector

One of the big problems with using metal detectors to find unexploded landmines is that they detect all pieces of metal in the ground, often forcing operators to inspect every suspect item they find. This can be very dangerous, so researchers at Harvard have figured out how to use smartphones to find landmines.

Trained and experienced operators can tell by the beeps coming from their detectors the size and shape of objects found. Harvard researchers take these beeps and map them onto a smartphone screen, such as an iPhone, to better visualise what's been found. The PETALS (Pattern Enhancement Tool for Assisting Landmine Sensing) researchers have shown that inexperienced users are up to 80 percent more efficient using their technique, which could save a lot of lives.

Using existing devices like iPhones makes the system potentially very cheap to deploy. Researchers hope that users already familiar with their smartphone interface should find it simple to use.

Using an iPhone app to test for landmines originally appeared on TUAW on Tue, 10 May 2011 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple iOS update quashes location tracking “bug”

iPhoneApple has released an iOS update for the iPhone and iPad, addressing concerns that the devices were tracking users' locations.

As was widely reported last month, a bug in Apple's software meant that iPhones and iPads were collecting location-related data and were archiving it on users' computers.

It was found that location information stored on your computer could pinpoint your iPhone's whereabouts for up to a year afterwards - something which caused a storm of protest from those concerned about their privacy.

And you can see their point. After all, someone with access to your PC might find the backup file in your iTunes and determine places that you regularly visit. And you had no idea that that information was being stored.

iPhone tracking

At the time of the revelation I think my biggest concern was the sheer amount of data that was being backed up to PCs. I couldn't see a legitimate reason for up to a year's worth of location data to be held.

Apple responded to the media interest, and admitted that devices were collecting information about cell towers and WiFi hotspots around users' current location, even when users had specifically turned off Location Services.

Apple says that the newly-released iOS 4.3.3 update will no longer back up location data cached on iPhones and iPads to users' computers, and fixes the Location Services bug.

iOS 4.3.3 update

If you install the update, the location data stored on your iPhone or iPad will reportedly only stretch back seven days, and the cache will be deleted in its entirety if you disable Location Services.

It would still be nice, of course, if the cache of location data was also encrypted - to prevent snooping eyes. Apple says that they plan to encrypt the data in the next major iOS software release (iOS 5.0?).