Passengers aboard an Australian flight were given a real fright when an iPhone inexplicably exploded, resulting in smoke inside the cabin and launching a million snide comments on tech blogs from iSceptics everywhere.
The handset, which was either an iPhone 4 or the new iPhone 4S, self-combusted inside a Regional Express flight LZ319 from Lismore to Sydney, causing the rear glass backing to shatter and a significant portion of the middle-right area to melt.
According to a media release by the airline, “a passenger’s mobile phone started emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow”.
Luckily, the plane had already landed when the incident happened. A flight attendant successfully extinguished the phone and no one was injured.
It’s as-yet-unclear what caused the explosion. The handset in question has been sent to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) for analysis and an investigation will be underway by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
This is certainly not the first time an iPhone has exploded and while we don’t like drawing conclusions without evidence, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that in the rush to meet continuous demands, some units, possibly the batteries themselves, were manufactured with defects.
The rare occurrence might not be cause for a total recall of iPhones. However, it is cause for concern nonetheless when it happens inside an airplane.
Apple has yet to comment on the situation.
O2 has announced it has commenced trialing the latest-generation 4G LTE network in the first-ever rollout in London.
The operator has installed 40 masts in a 40 square kilometer area in the capital, with up to 25 stations in the pipeline, for testing of the high-speed mobile on the 2.6GHz spectrum ahead of a planned nationwide launch in 2013.
“Today’s launch of the UK’s first 4G London trial network demonstrates our commitment to delivering 4G to our customers at the earliest opportunity,” said Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica UK.
“The work we are doing now will lay the foundations for our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK.”
At least 1,000 testers from industry partners such as O2 Arena and John Lewis, as well as readers of tech site Gizmodo, are taking part in the trial, which will last until June 2012.
O2 already has a 4G trial in Slough. BT and Orange are also conducting similar trials, with Three to follow suit shortly.
Participants are being equipped with 4G dongles, handsets and Wi-Fi hotspots, expected to provide speeds of up to 100Mbps. However, realistically users can at best hope for 30-40Mbps, which is the maximum received by 4G LTE subscribers in the US.
For the uninitiated, 4G is the fourth-generation network that succeeds the current 3G standard we already have in the UK. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which is one of several 4G standards currently available.
A malicious piece of software designed for iPhones and iPads has been created to show that Apple’s app store is not immune to malware.
The code was designed to look like a stock price tracker, but was also able to steal data.
Experts said that the proof-of-concept program was a “significant threat” to the app store.
Apple declined to comment. It also removed the app and barred the developer from its store.
The software was created by security expert and hacker Charlie Miller to demonstrate Apple’s vulnerabilities.
The firm accepted the program to its iTunes app store in September. Two months later Mr Miller revealed that it contained malware that could remotely download pictures and contacts.
“Until now you could just download everything from the app store and not worry about it being malicious. Now you have no idea what an app might do,” he said.
The InstaStock app took advantage of a recent update to Apple’s mobile operating system which allowed non-approved code to be added to installed apps for the first time. A few hours after Mr Miller disclosed the flaw, he received an email from Apple which said he was barred from the iOS developer program for violating its terms and conditions.
He wrote on Twitter: “First they give researchers access to developer programs, (although I paid for mine) then they kick them out.. for doing research. Me angry.”
Mr Miller has made something of a habit of exposing Apple’s security flaws. In 2009 he identified a bug in the iPhone’s text-messaging system that allowed attackers to gain remote control over the devices. He has since exposed other vulnerabilities in Apple’s Mac and mobile platforms.
Mr Miller plans to present his research at a security conference in Taiwan on 17 November.
The app he created was described as “the most significant threat yet to Apple’s app store economy”, by independent mobile analyst Ian Fogg. “Apple has been widely criticised for the way in which it limits what code developers can use but this suggests that it was probably right to do that,” he added.
To date Apple’s biggest security threat has been to the minority of its devices that have been modified. So-called jail-broken handsets appeal to more tech-savvy users who want to introduce non-Apple approved software to their handsets. However, many experts believe Apple’s app store is still more secure than many of its rivals’.
“The Android marketplace has a supply chain that is rather less controlled and therefore offers more potential to malware writers,” said Graham Titterington, an analyst with research firm Ovum. But he added that this malicious iPhone app could be “the first of many”.
Android phones dominate the UK smartphone marketplace, new figures reveal, capping a staggeringly successful 18 months for Google’s platform.
According to data from Kantar ComTech, 49.9 per cent of smartphones in the UK are Android phones. That compares with 22.5 per cent for BlackBerrys, and 18.5 per cent for Apple’s iPhone.
The surge in popularity of Android kits over the last 18 months means that one in four Britons now own a handset running the OS.
The platform’s rise and rise can be attributed to huge sales for the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy range and low-cost smarties, as well as a series of underwhelming efforts from BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion.
Also contributing to the changing landscape in the smartphone market was the late arrival of the iPhone 4S, which hit the market some four months later than expected.
Nokia was the biggest loser in ComTech’s findings, with the number of handsets sold rocking its largely abandoned Symbian operating system falling from 20 per cent to just six per cent over the last year and a half.