It was possible for a time for non-owners to open a locked iPhone by talking to Siri. The unassuming assistant is more than willing to allow access to contacts and photos if you know what to ask for. There’s your FBI solution right there. So what could have happened?
I use a company-issued 16GB iPhone 6S. It’s a wonderful device which I won’t bother reviewing here as it’s been done countless times. Apple’s products, one has to admit are technological works of art. Steve Jobs’ mindset is that is that the stuff Apple makes should be beautiful inside and out, a philosophy he shares deeply with his adoptive father. Computers need not be bulky, ugly, intimidating machines. Apple’s products should be designed beautifully, both hardware and software. They should be beautiful, and they should just work given the premium prices we pay for them. But sometimes, Apple misses something. Nobody’s perfect, and that includes Apple. But with companies like Apple, some mistakes, you just can’t afford. My phone still runs on iOS 9.2.1 and I’m thankful I haven’t jumped the iOS 9.3 rabbit hole too quickly.
Fortunately for Cupertino’s iOS team, Steve Jobs is no longer around to fire them. IOS 9.3 keeps showing problems one after the other. These aren’t run-of-the-mill bugs. If you’re familiar with the movie The Mist, iOS 9.3 has a serious infestation of the bugs in that movie. What happened to Apple’s vaunted quality control? Tim Cook’s team can’t seem to get their soufflés right. First, a critical error in version 9.3 freezes iOS devices when clicking or long-pressing on hyperlinks in apps like Safari, Mail, Notes, Messages and many third party apps. How this such an error escape Apple’s notice? Prior to that, when updating older devices such as the iPhone 5S and iPad Air, users are required to enter their Apple ID and the original password used to set up the device, potentially bricking the device if the user couldn’t remember that particular password. Just recently, after fixing the hyperlink bug via version 9.3.1, Apple missed something again. Squashing bugs is a messy business, literally and electronically. The sticky remnants sometimes invite more bugs.
After all the fuss and fury with the FBI in unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone, Apple itself broke the iPhone’s passcode security. The latest bug in iOS 9.3.1 and even lower allows Siri access to contacts and even unlock the iPhone without the user knowing the passcode. This involves 3D touch-enabled phones, searching Twitter for an email address and using 3D-touch, which opens up Contacts, which in turn opens up Photos. If it were this easy, the large amount of media time and effort on the iPhone debacle wouldn’t have been necessary. Fortunately for Apple, this problem was easily fixed server-side without having to issue another update. The iPhone is once again secure and here’s hoping nothing pops up within a month so I could finally upgrade.
Why upgrade? Here’s a rundown on what’s new in iOS 9.3.
- New 3D Touch shortcuts for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- Night Shift Mode makes the phone easy on the eyes at night by reducing the amount of blue light
- Touch ID improvements
- Password protection for Notes
- Updates to Apple Maps
- Additional language support for Siri
- Multi-user mode for iPads
- Multiple Apple Watch Pairing
- Speed and Battery improvements
- Wi-fi calling for Verizon and AT&T
As for the iOS oversights, Apple could be rushing things, fixing some holes they’re aware of but haven’t gotten to fixing because they could break something. Probably in the effort of thwarting the FBI’s newfound capability of hacking into iOS 8 or 9. They fix that something but will not put in on the update list. We all know what’s likely to happen when it comes to rush jobs. A less paranoid factor lies with their semi-annual hardware releases. New features require changes to iOS, and they’ll have to put in some new stuff and improvements for older models, so owners don’t feel left out. When there’s changes, Mr. Murphy’s ugly law rears its head. Welcome to Microsoft’s world. With each new release. Apple is required to deprecate some old ones, or they’ll end up supporting thousands of machine variants and thousands more various conditions or configurations which Microsoft handles every day for the sake of backward compatibility.
In fairness, Apple patches things up quickly and quite nicely and stability returns in about a month or so after a major update and people can get on with their lives until a new device or major update comes along.