Briefly: iPhone dates, iTunes Plus watermarks, Apple updates

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
The shell game of the iPhone's actual release date continued on its erratic course this week. Meanwhile, Apple's newly-unlocked music files appear to be keeping users honest through fingerprints. And, earlier this week, the company issued a pair of important fixes.



iPhone release date fixed at last?



The real release date for the iPhone may be a pragmatic one, AppleInsider has been told.



A contact who has filed accurate reports in the past notes that Friday, June 29th is the date being passed around at some Apple retail stores this week.



The initial date of availability for the inaugural Apple handset has been the subject of feverish speculation in recent weeks. A June 29th launch, while largely considered a rumor at this time, would corresponds the company's recent practice (1, 2) of holding some of its high-profile consumer product launches at the end of the week. It would also conform to Apple's official "late June" launch window and recent comments by company chief executive Steve Jobs.



Previous predictions have often fallen short of the mark. Many had initially suggested that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would use his June 11th keynote for the Worldwide Developer Conference to announce the device, a claim which has since been shot down after Apple http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2655">narrowed down the release to the end of the month.



Others have attempted unsuccessfully to extract a release date from AT&T's retail outlets. News network CNBC had used this method in May to claim a June 20th launch but has since been contradicted by other chains, which reported release dates as early as the now discredited June 11th and no later than the 22nd.



iTunes Plus may contain watermarks



Apple's introduction of iTunes Plus this week has made songs easier to transfer between devices but may include its own subtle means of discouraging open piracy, according to an investigation.



A test in which two separate iTunes accounts bought the same iTunes Plus song has revealed that the files are different despite otherwise identical data, suggesting that Apple has embedded account names into the files that ultimately reach customer computers. Such information could reportedly be used to track the origins of songs that appear on peer-to-peer networks.



Since the files can be readily copied and produce identical files when converted to different formats, the report determines that Apple's changes appear to be a simple matter of embedding non-obvious text, rather than actively encrypting content.



Apple issues Xserve fix, revised security update



Rounding out the week were two Apple hotfixes, primarily aimed at sorting out security issues.



The company's Xserve Lights-Out Management Firmware Update 1.0 (760KB download) repairs a security vulnerability in the remote management hardware for its Intel-based Xserve computers. It also improves the overall reliability of the management and monitoring tools, Apple says.



The update can be applied through Mac OS X on the host machine or remotely through a command line shell.



Finally, Apple has also delivered version 1.1 of its Security Update 2007-005 released early this week.



The download (15.7MB for PowerPC, 29.2MB for Intel) removes a configuration file that stopped the BIND service from automatically launching after the patch is installed. The update chiefly affects Mac OS X Server systems, which are most likely to enable BIND. Neither Client nor Server versions of the OS enable BIND by default.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    nerudaneruda Posts: 427member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... "late June" launch window and recent comments by company chief executive Steve Jobs.



    Jobs' comments were said strictly in jest, and I don't think they can be used to pin down any specific release date for the iPhone. June 11th, June 6th, June 29th....the real news is that nobody knows. Enough with the useless speculation.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Neruda View Post


    Jobs' comments were said strictly in jest, and I don't think they can be used to pin down any specific release date for the iPhonel. June 11th, June 6th, June 29th....the real news is that nobody knows. Enough with the useless speculation.



    For the record: AppleInsider has not speculated previously on the iPhone date. We may have covered other publication's speculation, but none of our own.



    Best,



    K
  • Reply 3 of 38
    nerudaneruda Posts: 427member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    We may have covered other publication's speculation, but none of our own.



    Best,



    K



    Sorry, but this is what I was referring to. I did not mean to imply that Appleinsider suggested the dates I listed.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A test in which two separate iTunes accounts bought the same iTunes Plus song has revealed that the files are different despite otherwise identical data, suggesting that Apple has embedded account names into the files that ultimately reach customer computers. Such information could reportedly be used to track the origins of songs that appear on peer-to-peer networks.



    And that was just one test. I don't think anyone else has performed said comparison.



    Quote:

    Since the files can be readily copied and produce identical files when converted to different formats, the report determines that Apple's changes appear to be a simple matter of embedding non-obvious text, rather than actively encrypting content.



    Single byte values scattered throughout the file? That's not much for text.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Neruda View Post


    Sorry, but this is what I was referring to. I did not mean to imply that Appleinsider suggested the dates I listed.



    No -- I hear what you're saying. It is annoying. I agree with you. But my point is: just because other outlets have beat the issue to death, it shouldn't preclude us from at least taking one stab at it ourselves



    Enjoy your weekend,



    K
  • Reply 6 of 38
    chris vchris v Posts: 460member
    Get info on any song you've bought from iTunes (while in iTunes) and right there in the Summary pane, it lists your name & email. It's nothing new, as this has been the case with the old .m4p protected files, as well. It's not like this is some explosive story, brough to light by an intrepid investigator tirelessly digging deep into the unknown bowels of iTunes, or anything.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    mrjoec123mrjoec123 Posts: 223member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kasper View Post


    No -- I hear what you're saying. It is annoying. I agree with you. But my point is: just because other outlets have beat the issue to death, it shouldn't preclude us from at least taking one stab at it ourselves



    Enjoy your weekend,



    K



    June 22nd or 29th always made the most sense to me. Apple will most likely hold special events at all the Apple Retail stores the night of the first availability, just as they did with Tiger and Panther. And those events are always on Friday nights. The store usually closes at 5, then reopens at 6 with special deals, etc. Usually goes on past midnight. (At least it did in Palo Alto.) Microsoft tried to copy this idea with Vista, and it was just sad.



    The only reason why the 29th might not be the best date is that it's the opening night for Pixar's new Ratatouille film. Not that it matters too much, but a lot of Apple fans are Pixar fans, too. Wouldn't want those two events to conflict and cut into Disney's profits.



    So I'm hoping for the 22nd, but the 29th is probably the night.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 911member
    I wouldn't be surprised if it was the 29th simply because it allow more time to produce and ship more iPhones into the various stores. Since the ramp isn't up to a million a month (yet) the extra production time would be very helpful for some - especially those that could say "I got the last one in the store" -v- "I've got to wait a whole week to get mine".
  • Reply 9 of 38
    For what it is worth, not much I'm sure, I was in my local AT&T shoppe last week and asked the worker bee about the iPhone. He said June 15. He said his iPhone training has been almost completed and he was ready to roll. The three other workers there were trying to get a Blackberry to work for a customer, another story there I bet. They rolled their eyes when the iPhone was mentioned and volunteered that the Blackberry was much better. I then asked why It was taking three of them to get it to work? I left.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    freenyfreeny Posts: 128member
    June 29th also happens to be the release date of "Ratatouille"

    coincidence?...
  • Reply 11 of 38
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,496member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by William John View Post


    They rolled their eyes when the iPhone was mentioned and volunteered that the Blackberry was much better. I then asked why It was taking three of them to get it to work? I left.



  • Reply 12 of 38
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Since the files can be readily copied and produce identical files when converted to different formats, the report determines that Apple's changes appear to be a simple matter of embedding non-obvious text, rather than actively encrypting content.



    I wouldn't say it's "non-obvious" when you can click "Get Info" and clearly see the "Purchased By" and "Account Name" tags containing my name and account respectively.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Try it from another account - can you still see the info?
  • Reply 14 of 38
    floccusfloccus Posts: 138member
    Actually, a forum user over on MacRumors has pretty much shown that the person who first suggested that Apple was tagging Plus music goofed in her technique. She's since ammended her post to show that the files will indeed come out identical.



    As for the iPhone release date, I think Apple will want to launch earlier in the week than Friday. Sure there will be plenty of demand, but the issue would be supply carrying over till Monday. Smart move would be to launch on a Monday, and re-supply later in the week. Then again, who knows what demand will truly be. To draw a parallel, which system's launch will the iPhone end up emulating... the PS3 or the Wii?
  • Reply 15 of 38
    it won't emulate either of them. iPhone isin't a videogame that people are going to pitch tents infront of best buy to get.



    that's good news though, now all i want to hear is a date for Canada.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Agreed. People won't pitch tents in front of Best Buy for the iPhone. They won't need tents because the weather's warm, and the stores they'll be camped out in front of will be Apple stores



    And MacRumors has tentatively retracted the watermarking story. The current theory seems to be simply that the modification dates on the two song files was different. Running the audio portion through editing apps reveals it to be identical, bit for bit, when bought by two different accounts. Thus, no watermark/fingerprint. There is, however, non-hidden metadata you can see just with Get Info. That's different from a watermark.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    garbigarbi Posts: 3member
    I just updated my EMI purchased songs to DRM-free versions. I then copied one of them to the desktop, opened it in a plain text editor and searched for my name.



    First fact: it's there, in the middle of the raw song data.



    I then tried to remove my name using a text editor but after that operation the AAC file won't play anymore in any of the audio player I have (iTunes, Quicktime, VLC, AudioFinder, etc.)



    Second fact: it is not trivial to remove.



    Conclusion: I'd say that there is indeed some kind of watermark in there.



    It might not be very sophisticated - real watermarks go well beyond adding a name somewhere in a file and are rather interwoven with the actual data - but you should be careful, as your name might also be there in some encoded format (or in a "real" interwoven watermark). In any case, if you simply give away your DRM-free songs, it is easy for Apple/EMI to track it back to you, unless you know how to remove the name/watermark properly.



    One can see watermarking as an optimistic DRM scheme: Apple/EMI assume that most people who buy music are honest and they deal with the exceptions a posteriori, possibly via some legal action. The protected AAC approach on the other hand is a pessimistic DRM scheme: it assumes that most people are cheaters and tries to prevent dishonest behaviors a priori.



    Personally, I very much prefer the optimistic approach, as it avoids annoying honest people with artificial restrictions. In my view, trying to protect content is not a problem but preventing people who paid for it to use it is. As usual, Apple seems to push a kind of "fair play" approach, where the user experience is the priority rather than having a 100% bullet-proof DRM scheme (which is known to be impossible anyway). I believe this is the right approach.



    --

    Benoît
  • Reply 18 of 38
    morrismorris Posts: 25member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by garbi View Post


    I just updated my EMI purchased songs to DRM-free versions. I then copied one of them to the desktop, opened it in a plain text editor and searched for my name.



    First fact: it's there, in the middle of the raw song data.



    The name is there in so called 'atoms'. These can exist at the beginning of the file or at the end. They are nothing special and are like the ID3 tags of MP4 files.

    Moreover, tests have shown that the audio data is identical between files bought under different accounts so the only place where this is stored is in meta-data.

    Quote:

    I then tried to remove my name using a text editor but after that operation the AAC file won't play anymore in any of the audio player I have (iTunes, Quicktime, VLC, AudioFinder, etc.)



    Second fact: it is not trivial to remove.



    Benoît



    The reason they won't play is because you screwed up the file by writing a binary file with a text editor. This data exists only in meta-data. Get a decent meta-data editor and you can easily remove it. Try AtomicParsley for instance.



    The suggestion that all players have been changed to support 'Apple's watermarking' is ludicrous.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    demenasdemenas Posts: 109member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post


    I wouldn't say it's "non-obvious" when you can click "Get Info" and clearly see the "Purchased By" and "Account Name" tags containing my name and account respectively.



    My impression was that Apple was embedding the purchaser's information somewhere hard to find *in addition* to the easily seen fields you are referring to.



    Steve
  • Reply 20 of 38
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post


    June 22nd or 29th always made the most sense to me. Apple will most likely hold special events at all the Apple Retail stores the night of the first availability, just as they did with Tiger and Panther. And those events are always on Friday nights. The store usually closes at 5, then reopens at 6 with special deals, etc. Usually goes on past midnight. (At least it did in Palo Alto.) Microsoft tried to copy this idea with Vista, and it was just sad.



    The only reason why the 29th might not be the best date is that it's the opening night for Pixar's new Ratatouille film. Not that it matters too much, but a lot of Apple fans are Pixar fans, too. Wouldn't want those two events to conflict and cut into Disney's profits.



    So I'm hoping for the 22nd, but the 29th is probably the night.



    There is a major difference here; the iPhone will also be sold at AT&T stores. I'm guessing that it will be sold at both stores at the same time.



    I agree with your assessment of June 29th as a bad day for a release. Personally, I'm leaning toward the 22nd as a release date. I do expect to see an iPhone commercial during the previews for Ratatouille. My only question is whether it's the same one shown at the Academy Awards or a new one.



    PS: I'm actually postponing my trip out of the States a day to the 22nd to help make sure I can get an iPhone right away. I'd wait until July if I could, but unfortunately I can't.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by demenas View Post


    My impression was that Apple was embedding the purchaser's information somewhere hard to find *in addition* to the easily seen fields you are referring to.



    That appears to be have been dismissed. Still it won't keep the complainers from bitching about easily removed meta data that has been in all iTunes Store purchases since day one.



    I'm pretty sure the idea of watermarking would have been discussed, especially by EMI, but eventually dismissed when it was discovered that watermarking would be easily removed within days or even hours of the iTunes Plus launch.
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