App Store Hits 1.5 Billion Downloads

Apple's runaway app store.It’s really becoming a year among years for Apple. The super-trendy company was once a sleeping puppy in a den of wolves, quietly wooing customers to the questionable promise of a more stable lifestyle. Since then they’ve released the Kleenex of the MP3 player market and turned tens of millions to the iPhone. Just three months ago their app store hit 1 billion downloads and just this month the store had its first birthday.

Today marks another milestone for your favorite fruity company. According to an Apple press release, the app store has reached 1.5 billion downloads to date. We already know Apple’s iPhone as host to the fastest growing development community in the world, sending coders on a rite of passage with dreams of hitting it rich. Those quasicultish seekers have made more than 65,000 apps available in 77 countries around the world.

Our congrats to Apple. May your useful apps continue to improve and your frivolous apps continue to make us scratch our heads as we look at the download counts.

You can read the full press release here.

iPhone to Get SMS Vulnerability Fix

iPhone SMS.As smartphones become more popular we’re going to see more and more hacks designed to exploit any vulnerability within the phone. As long as the iPhone’s been around, and as widespread as it is, it’s surprising we’ve not seen more news like this.

Though the first of its kind in a while, this iPhone vulnerability is pretty serious. OS X security expert Charlie Miller says through an SMS exploit, attackers could run code using the messaging service. Such an exploit could allow an attacker to track the phone via GPS, enable the microphone for eavesdropping, or even use the phone for a botnet or distributed DOS attack.

At just 140 bytes of data per message, SMS is one of very few ways a hacker can access an iPhone wirelessly. Attackers can send multiple messages to the phone to recompiled once on the device for the exploits mentioned. The real danger is that SMS can be used to send binary to an iPhone, removing user interaction from the equation.

That’s a whole lot more than most iPhone users probably think their phones capable, which is what makes fixing the vulnerability so important. According to Miller, Apple should have the hole patched later this month, before he gives a presentation on the hack at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

Update: Child Pornography Hits the iPhone [NSFW]

iPhone has some porn problems [censored].A photo purportedly showing a naked 15-year-old has made its way onto the iPhone App Store through an app called BeautyMeter this week, despite Apple’s strong stance against objectionable content in the store.

Last week the application “Hottest Apps” was quickly pulled from the App Store due to “objectionable content,” namely, female nudity. It was adult female nudity, though, unlike today’s whopping PR nightmare for the iPhone.

BeautyMeter allows users to upload photos of themselves and subsequently rate one another on body, face, and clothing appeal. If you’ve been to Hot or Not, you get the idea. Today, an iPhone app review site called KRAPPS found a picture of what appears to be a 15-year-old girl topless and partially nude below the waist in BeautyMeter. Nearly 5,000 users have voted on the picture.

As of this posting, the application is still available in the app store, though the picture may have been removed. I would expect the app to at least get pulled for review before day’s end.

According to the developer’s website, funnymals.com, they do not review submissions on a photo by photo basis. Rather, they go in and clean up “from time to time.” This certainly gives plenty of room for photos like the illegal nude in question to slip through. Users have even commented in the app store that, “There shouldnt be 14 year olds nude on there [sic].”

The developer does supposedly capture your iPhone’s unique device ID when you upload a photo, making it possible to track down anyone who has posted illegal content. Neither Apple nor Funnymal will likely have legal liability in this case, though it does raise questions as to how Apple will handle user-generated content in future applications.

Update:BeautyMeter has officially been pulled.

Image from Wired

Smartphone War: Are Apps the Deciding Battleground?

The touchscreen smartphones.Smartphones used to be the domain of supergeeks and tech professionals – people who needed or desperately wanted the functionality of a full computer in a tidy mobile platform. As the devices became more popular and the desire for on-the-go web capabilities grew you could almost smell the storm coming.

Then the iPhone came out and sold millions, spurring competitors to make their own touchscreen wonderphone. We’ve now got the Blackberry Storm, the HTC G1, the Palm Pre, the Nokia N97, and the Samsung Jet, all running on a different operating system. While the manufacturers tout the hardware features that make their phone the best (physical keyboards, a screen that clicks, a camera with a flash), consumers are starting to look to the software that runs the phone, and the applications they’re finally able to install, to make a decision.

Apple has been most successful with third party application sales and support due to their App Store, which opened in mid-July, 2008. Since release, the App Store has seen more than a billion application downloads and now showcases more than 50,000 third party applications. From games to translators, finance tools to ereaders, the Apple App Store has an app for almost anything, leaving its competitors lagging far behind.

It’s taken nearly a year for competitors to get their mobile application stores up and running, time during which Apple has continued to lure consumers with the promise of a robust app catalog. As Business Insider points out, consumers aren’t just investing in a phone, they’re investing in a platform, with application quality and quantity as a major component of that investment. In a similar article, BI adds that time users spend with applications is replacing time spent on the web. Apps like Yelp allow users quick access to restaurant reviews, where before they would have been using Google.

This isn’t just good news for Apple, it’s an important statistic for developers. Read the rest of this entry »

Woot-Off!

wootJust a quick note telling everyone today is a Woot-Off! If you recall our Sweet Site of the Week – woot.com, then you remember that they sell tons of gadgets, electronics, and knick-knacks for seriously reduced prices along with $5 shipping. But the catch is that they sell only one item every 24 hours. Well, on the grand occasion of a Woot-Off, they put a new item up for sale as soon as the last one sells out. For Wooters(the name affectionately given to those of us who woot), this is the best day of the month, quarter, or year for they can constantly press the F5 button all day and find new items. Maybe not the items they need or want, but they have to find out anyway.

And then there’s the highly, highly coveted Bag of Crap. Wooters will spend all day, all night, and sometimes the next day waiting for the infamous Bag of Crap to appear. You see, when the BOC goes on sale Wooters will rush to put in their order for between 1 to 3 of them and then wait a few days to a week to see what random three, or more, items show up on their doorstep. While the actual BOC will cost between $1 to $3, plus $5 shipping, according to bagsofcrap.com the value of the items in the BOC can range from around $30 to over $1400. Oh, and for full disclosure, expect the woot website to crash while several thousand Wooters all fight to orders the bags of crap.

Doesn’t this sound like something you want to be a part of? I do. Head on over to Woot and keep that F5 button close by. You never know when you might find something worthwhile to purchase. And hey, you may even get your hands on that elusive Bag of Crap.