July 20, 2012

Apple has responded to the recent App Store in-app-purchase bug and fraud with an email and temporary solution for registered iOS developers. This email includes a link to a new Apple developer web document that describes the issue and teaches developers how to temporarily plug the issue. Apple says that it will fix the bug completely with the upcoming release of iOS 6 (thanks, @natesiphone).

A vulnerability has been discovered in iOS 5.1 and earlier related to validating in-app purchase receipts by connecting to the App Store server directly from an iOS device. An attacker can alter the DNS table to redirect these requests to a server controlled by the attacker. Using a certificate authority controlled by the attacker and installed on the device by the user, the attacker can issue a SSL certificate that fraudulently identifies the attacker’s server as an App Store server. When this fraudulent server is asked to validate an invalid receipt, it responds as if the receipt were valid.

iOS 6 will address this vulnerability. If your app follows the best practices described below then it is not affected by this attack.

Apple has provided a question, answer, and solution section for three common questions from developers during the past few days (since the major App Store flaw was discovered):

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Australian airline Qantas previously announced it is dropping BlackBerry in favor of Apple’s iPhone and issuing iPads to pilots, but now it is rolling out iPads to passengers to compliment a new in-flight entertainment streaming service.

Qantas is abandoning RIM due to a recently conducted employee survey that indicated airline staffers prefer Apple’s smartphone offering. CIO Paul Jones told The Sydney Morning Herald that the iPhone offers a “user-friendly interface and simple access to emails, contacts and calendars, as well as meeting all Qantas’ security requirements.”

Staff members can also carry Android devices under the airline’s bring-your-own-device policy. The move to Apple’s iPhone will save Qantas millions of dollars, as will transitioning to the iPad to replace costly paper in the cockpit, according to NewStraitTimes. The airline will dole 2,200 iPads to pilots to improve communication and cutback on printed charts and manuals. The 64Gb iPads with 3G will save the airline about $1.5 million annually.

“Transition from the BlackBerry to the iPhone is part of Qantas’ broader mobility strategy and, once complete, will result in significant cost savings,” said a Qantas spokesperson.

With the full-scale shift to iOS in progress, Qantas further announced it plans to launch QStreaming across its B767 fleet. Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi revealed customers travelling on a Qantas’ B767 aircraft would now experience “in-flight entertainment streamed direct to iPads in every seat.”

“Following the successful trial of our QStreaming service this year, we will partner with Panasonic and use their eXW solution to provide over 200 hours of on-demand IFE content via iPads to every passenger in Business and Economy travelling on our B767 fleet,” Strambi explained. “QStreaming will be available free of charge to all our passengers across the B767 fleet.

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Sparrow has just announced that it has been acquired by Google. The company’s team will be integrated within the Google Gmail team.

We’re excited to announce that Sparrow has been acquired by Google!

We care a lot about how people communicate, and we did our best to provide you with the most intuitive and pleasurable mailing experience.

Now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.

We’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our users who have supported us, advised us, given us priceless feedback and allowed us to build a better mail application. While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.

We had an amazing ride and can’t thank you enough.

Full speed ahead!

Dom Leca
CEO
Sparrow

Promo video for Sparrow for iPhone

Sparrow has long been noted as a great third-party email app for both the Mac and iOS, specifically on the iPhone. The application has a unique user interface that is intuitive and very well integrated into social networks.

Teaser for Sparrow for iPad

The company said that an iPad app is in the works, but it is unclear if this app will launch now that the team is integrated into Google. Notably, Sparrow says that its current apps will stay available. Sparrow will also still provide support for its users.

Sparrow has also long been noted as a great Gmail solution for iPhone users. Google’s official iOS Gmail application is definitely in need of new features – beyond just a web view – and we hope that Sparrow’s team has a part in creating a new Gmail experience for iOS users.

Screenshot of Sparrow for Mac

Sparrow has also just sent out a different, more personal note to its users. Notably: no new features or updates coming.

Hello,
We’re excited to let you know that Sparrow has been acquired by Google! You can view our public announcement here, but I wanted to reach out directly to make sure you were aware of the news.We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users. However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.
It’s been an honor and a pleasure to build products for all of our wonderful users who have supported us over the years. We can’t thank you enough.
We look forward to working on some new and exciting projects at Google!

A Google spokesperson has reached out to provide the following statement:

The Sparrow team has always put their users first by focusing on building a seamlessly simple and intuitive interface for their email client. We look forward to bringing them aboard the Gmail team, where they’ll be working on new projects.

We’re also told that Google will support Sparrow in supporting its current Sparrow user-base and in providing essential app updates. The Sparrow team is also said to be focusing on new Google projects, likely related to Gmail. Google would not comment on specific future product plans.

The Verge says the purchase price was under $25 million.

One of the most widely publicized and important knocks against Sparrow’s iOS application is the lack of push notifications. As Sparrow CEO Dom Leca said, “now we’re joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.” We think that bigger vision includes more resources; assets that will help Sparrow make email even better for everyone with features like push alerts.

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The iPhone 4 and 4S are available as prepaid devices for as low as $399 and $499, respectively on Cricket, but now Apple is making available its iPhone 3GS on India’s Aircel for just $180 with a $55 deposit on airtime/data. This corresponds with the global market pattern that has developed over the past few months, where the iPhone 3GS is trending toward $200 unsubsidized.

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