According to the Daring FireballIt the upcoming iOS 7 update is running behind schedule. Engineers are now reportedly being pulled from the OS X 10.9 update to work on Apple’s mobile operating system.
While that may seem like a bummer, there is good news as well. It seems that iOS 7 will be a major overhaul in terms of UI design over the previous versions of the operating system. The heavily skeuomorphic UI elements, such as leather trim, linen backgrounds and torn paper edges are reportedly being trashed, hopefully in favor of a cleaner, simpler UI. Engineers who are field testing the OS are carrying special devices with polarizing filters on the screen that limits the visibility so as to not give the new UI away. They normally wouldn’t go this far if it wasn’t significantly different.
Ever since Scott Forstall left Apple and handed over the reigns of iOS to Sir Jonathan Ive, it has been speculated as to what direction the future versions of iOS will take under the command of their new master. While Forstall clearly favored a more flamboyant approach to design, Ive has a much more simpler and minimalistic style, as can be seen from Apple’s hardware.
As such, it is no surprise that iOS will also be taking a similar route in terms of design under Ive. Other than getting rid of the gaudy UI elements that had few fans, the new update will also give iOS a much needed UI refresh, which has clearly started looking long in the tooth.
We can now say we are genuinely looking forward to seeing what Apple has to showcase this year. Hopefully, they won’t take too long.
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A few days ago the recently iOS 6.1 jailbreak evasi0n tool was launched, and it seems that the new jailbreak is doing quite well, folks! Cydia’s creator Jay Freeman told Forbes that the tool has been used to hack 7 million iOS devices since its release a few days ago.
The abovementioned number includes 5.15 million iPhones, 1.35 million iPads, and 400,000 iPod Touchs – quite an impressive digits given the fact that evasi0n has been out for only four days now. It also handily explains Cydia’s staggering increase of server traffic.
As of Thursday night, Freeman’s alternative app store had received visits from 5.15 million iPhones, 1.35 million iPads, and 400,000 iPod touches that were jailbroken with evasi0n, the first jailbreaking software for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.1.
Freeman says that evasi0n has brought Cydia “insanely more new traffic” than the release of the jailbreak tool called Absinthe that worked on some versions of iOS 5. And even Jailbreakme3, the popular web-based jailbreak released by iPhone hacker Comex in the summer of 2011, was only used on 1.4 million devices in its first nine days online.
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The evasi0n jailbreak was launched only a few days ago. More than 1.7 million iOS devices were jailbroken in the first 24 hours, according to Cydia’s download stats. What’s more – the half of that number was reached in mere six hours of the release of the jailbreak tool.
Of course, the simplicity of the jailbreak solution is tempting to many, and it’s easy to forget how much work actually went into creating this seamless hack tool. With every new iOS release and every new iOS device, Apple’s code quality and system protection only gets better. So these guys have overcome an enormous challenge.
Have you ever thought about how the latest evasi0n jailbreak actually works and what it took the evad3rds team members to overcome the hardened defenses of Apple’s latest devices? One of the team members, David Wang, a.k.a. @planetbeing, who was one of the two people who were personally responsible for finding the exploit in Apple’s code, sat down for an interview with fellow tech journalists and explained the whole process.
And here’s how evasi0n operates, as told by one of its creators :
- evasi0n begins by running libimobiledevice, a program that substitutes for iTunes to communicate with iOS devices via the same protocol as Apple’s program. Using that tool, Evasi0n exploits a bug in iOS’s mobile backup system to gain access to certain settings that it normally shouldn’t be able to access, namely a file that indicates the device’s time zone.
- The jailbreak program then inserts a “symbolic link” in that time zone file, a shortcut from one place in an operating system to another. In this case the link leads to a certain “socket,” a restricted communications channel between different programs that Wang describes as a kind of “red telephone to Moscow.”
- Evasi0n alters the socket that allows programs to communicate with a program called Launch Daemon, abbreviated launchd, a master process that loads first whenever an iOS device boots up and can launch applications that require “root” privileges, a step beyond the control of the OS than users are granted by default. That means that whenever an iPhone or iPad’s mobile backup runs, it automatically grants all programs access to the time zone file and, thanks to the symbolic link trick, access to launchd.
- iOS has another safeguard that would normally prevent any rogue application from gaining access to launchd: Code-signing. That restriction requires that all code run on a device is approved with an unforgeable signature from Apple. So Evasi0n launches a new app that appears to have no code at all–signed or unsigned. But when a user is prompted and taps the app’s icon, it uses a Unix trick called a “shebang” that can summon up code from another, signed application. In this case, it summons up launchd–which it can only access thanks to the socket change it made earlier–and uses it to run a “remount” command that changes the memory settings of the read-only root file system to make it writable.
- Now that the root file system is writable, evasi0n changes a file called launchd.conf that alters the configuration of launchd so that the changes evasi0n makes to it are repeated every time it runs. That’s what will make the jailbreak “persistent”: The user won’t need to re-run the program over a USB cable every time the device boots.
- Even after all those contortions, a device isn’t jailbroken until its restrictions are removed at the “kernel” layer–the deepest part of the operating system that performs the code-signing checks to prevent running unapproved apps using a process called the Apple Mobile File Integrity Daemon (AMFID). So evasi0n uses launchd to load a library of functions into AMFID every time a program launches that somehow swaps out the function that checks for a code signature for one that always returns an “approved” answer.
- iOS has yet another safeguard to prevent hackers from altering memory in the operating system kernel: Address Space Layout Randomization, or ASLR. That defensive trick moves the location of device’s code in its flash memory a certain, random distance every time it boots up to stymie anyone who would write over a particular part of the code. But evasi0n uses a memory allocation trick to locate one spot in memory that’s harder to hide in ARM-chip-based devices, known as the ARM exception vector. That part of the kernel handles application crashes, reporting on where in memory they happened. So evasi0n simulates a crash and checks the ARM exception vector to see where the crash occurred, providing just enough information to map out the rest of the kernel in the device’s memory.
- Once it’s beaten ASLR, the jailbreak uses one final bug in iOS’s USB interface that passes an address in the kernel’s memory to a program and “naively expects the user to pass it back unmolested,” according to Wang. That allows evasi0n to write to any part of the kernel it wants. The first place it writes is to the part of the kernel that restricts changes to its code–the hacker equivalent of wishing for more wishes.
Another, more detailed and more technical rundown of what happens when you jailbreak your iOS device, can be found here. What these guys did looks like an amazing feat and we hope their solution will stick around for a while before Apple strikes back.
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Evasi0n was finally released to free all iOS 6.0/6.1 devices (iPhone 5 and latest iPads included) and it’s being enjoying some serious popularity. In fact so many users have jailbroken their iDevices that Cydia servers are unable to catch up with the demand.
The numbers are insane – Cydia creator Jay Freeman (saurik) has shared on Twitter that he’s seeing 14 thousand hits per second.
Meanwhile pod2g, one of key developers behind evasi0n has posted numbers on his blog for evasi0n.com. The site is getting close to 3 million unique visitors and over 17 million pageviews.
Users are reporting that Cydia isn’t able to install its repository on their devices due to the overwhelming traffic, which causes server hiccups. So you guys (and some of us here too) will just have to be patient until things get back to normal – it might take at least a few days, given how long the world waited for an iOS 6 jailbreak.
Finally!! The long-awaited untethered jailbreak for iOS 6.1 devices is finally here. It’s been a long time coming since the last time we saw a proper jailbreak, but thanks to the Evad3rs dev team, including PlanetBeing, pod2g, and MuscleNerd, it’s great to know that the latest iOS firmware is now hackable.
There’s a few things you’ll need before you get started. You obviously should have done most of the pre-jailbreak work already, but if not, be sure to read our guide on how to prepare for the jailbreak. You’ll need a computer running at least Windows XP, OS X 10.5, or Linux x86/x86_64. Luckily, the jailbreak will work with both iOS 6.0 and iOS 6.1, so no need to upgrade to iOS 6.1 if you haven’t already.
You’ll also want to disable your passcode lock if you have one, as the dev team has warned that can interfere with the jailbreaking process. Once you’re ready, head on over the Evasi0n website to download the necessary files that you need. The website does a good job directing you to all the files that you need.
Make sure to be patient while the jailbreak process is running. The dev team says it should only take about five minutes, but they insist that you don’t open up iTunes or Xcode while the process is running. The best thing to do is to just not touch your computer at all until the end of the jailbreaking process.