On Tech Brief today: Pranksters cash in, Apple mulls an iPhone kill switch and the most boring film ever?
• Apple has previously come in for criticism for banning apps from its store, sometimes in an inconsistent fashion. The latest developer to be booted out of the store is Nate Weiner, developer of Read it Later, an app that allows you to store web pages and read them offline. He had submitted an update to his app, that had been successfully accepted and distributed before. In a blog post, he copied the letter he had been sent by Apple that suggested the reason that it had been blocked was because "applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content".
" If that is true, then outside of games, almost every single popular application in the app store would be affected. The Facebook app, Twitter app, Evernote app, Google Reader apps, and any other application for a web-based service that requires an account would be rejected."
• In related news, Dan Goodin at the Register reports on a patent application filed by Apple for "an elaborate series of measures to automatically protect iPhone owners from thieves and other unauthorized users". However, he warns, that the patent also includes functions that would allow Apple to identify phones that had been "jail broken" to run unauthorised software:
" The application, which was filed in February and published Thursday, specifically describes the identification of "hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card" so that measures can be taken to counter the user. Possible responses include surreptitiously activating the iPhone's camera, geotagging the image and uploading it to a server and transmitting sensitive data to a server and then wiping it from the device."
• The file-sharing landscape seems to be constantly in flux, as record labels and authorities play a game of cat and mouse with sites for posting links to copyright videos and music. But Ernesto at Torrent Freak says that "despite many legal battles and pressure" the landscape has largely remained unchanged:
" This suggests that the ecosystem is more stable and conservative than most think it is. Up to a certain degree this is true, but it's not entirely invincible. Four out of the five websites have been dragged to court and two of them have suffered serious damage."
• A message board that was originally set up to allow people to post images from Japanese animation and cartoons but has since morphed into a focal point for web pranks and hacktavism may not seem like an obvious business opportunity. But, according to a detailed piece for MIT Tech review, big investors now want a piece of the 4 chan message board and its founder Christopher "moot" Poole:
"Many in the internet business have been watching 4chan with interest. The steady growth of its traffic and the viral spread of its content, after all, represent the kind of social success that web businesses require."
"The Google story is about two big nerds who made a great product, then got rich. Good luck sexing that up, Hollywood."
• And finally; keeping with the Star Wars theme of a few recent posts, we present you a collection of Darth Vader's inspired commercials that passed by the Tech Brief desk today. Impressive. Most impressive:
"Lots of companies have tried to cash in on Lucas' money machine since the first Star Wars came out in 1977 by paying homage to the film and its characters in commercials, including a certain evil Sith lord who you wouldn't think would make the best pitchman. But it turns out he is."