Supreme Court Rules that Police Need Warrant to Search iPhones


The US Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Riley v. California today indicating that law enforcement must have a warrant to search cell-phone content of a person that has been arrested. The petitioner in the case was stopped for a traffic violation that eventually led to an arrest on weapons charges. After being arrested, a police officer seized the defendant’s cell phone and accessed photographs and videos that were used to charge him with a shooting that occurred a few weeks earlier. The Supreme Court found that generally, without a warrant, law enforcement may not search digital information stored on a cell phone of an individual that has been arrested. The Court determined that the Fourth amendment exception that allowed police to search property found on or near an arrestee does not apply for cell phones. It was decided that digital data stored on a cell phone does not present risks to officer safety or present risk of evidence destruction (it noted that law enforcement has some technologies to prevent remote wiping to combat the potential loss of evidence). The Court noted that exigent circumstances exceptions to the Fourth amendment would still apply in case-specific situations. The reasoning behind the decision was that substantial privacy interests are at stake when digital data is involved, and that this is not comparable to inventorying personal items. The Court explained that cell phones have an immense storage capacity and prior searches of a person was limited by physical realities that individual could only carry a small number items. The difference is with a cell phone a person can “store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, or hundreds of videos”. Further a search of a cell phone could also include data from remote servers which would extend well beyond papers and effects in the proximity of an arrested individual. It was acknowledged that the decision would have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime, but it was noted that information could still be obtained from a cell phone with valid warrant, and partly due to today’s technology, warrants can be obtained with “increasing efficiency”. This decision represents a win for personal privacy, but a potential setback to over-engrossing law enforcement actions. It is great to see that this was a unanimous decision that clearly defines for both law enforcement and the general public of the expectations of privacy when cell phone are involved. This will be a very important decision in the practice of law. It is important to note that the Court did not rest its decision on whether or not the phone was locked, and this means that protection even would apply if an individual has not password secured their device.

The Meaning of App Icon Statuses on iOS

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Have you ever noticed that sometimes your App icons look different on your iPad or iPhone? Sometimes the apps cannot be launched, or will have a little blue circle next to the app name. Normally when you see these differences, it is because your App is in the process of being installed, updated, or have just completed a new update. The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a great article explaining just what those different App icons mean.

Microsoft Giving 1 TB of OneDrive Storage to Entice Office 365 Subscriptions

One Drive

Microsoft announced a massive increase to OneDrive storage today for both paid and free accounts. Under the new plan, 15 GB of storage is available for free to all users of OneDrive (this is up from the 7 GB previously offered), and if you are a subscriber to Office 365, that number goes up to 1 TB. If you are not an Office 365 subscriber, you also have the option of purchasing 100 GB of storage for $1.99 per month, or 200 GB for $3.99 per month.

This news comes less than a month after Apple announced their upcoming iCloud Drive service that offered substantially lower rates than those currently being offered by competitors. For comparison sake, Apple announced that iCloud Drive would offer 5 GB of free storage, with 20GB to be $0.99 per month, 200 GB to be $3.99 per month, and 1 TB to be determined.

The biggest loser in these price decreases is Dropbox. Currently Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for free, with 100 GB for $9.99 per month, and 200 GB for $19.99 per month. It will be interesting to see how long before Dropbox has to drop their prices to be competitive. Google Drive also offers 15GB of free storage and 100 GB for $1.99 per month and 1 TB for $9.99 per month.

If you were looking for a good reason to purchase Office 365, and the releases of Microsoft Office for the iPad were not enough for you, OneDrive storage definitely makes the subscription the most economical way I have found to obtain cloud storage, with the added bonus of Microsoft Office on your iPad and Desktop. It is also important to remember that you can still purchase a one year subscription to Office 365 from Amazon at $72.00.

Ars Technica Details the Danger of WiFi Hotspots


“Free” Wi-Fi from Xfinity and AT&T also frees you to be hacked

This is a great article from Ars Technica discussing the dangers of using WiFi hotspots, even those from trusted providers.  Thousands of hotspots are turning up around Delaware advertising xfinitywifi (including one in my own building), a free WiFi network for customers of Comcast’s Xfinity service.  The problem with these WiFi hotspots is that your wireless device has no way to determine if the hotspots are authentic.  This matters because before you are able to use these hotspots, you must first authenticate using your xfinity login and password. 

This is dangerous because there is nothing to prevent a malicious hacker from creating a Hotspot named xfinitywifi and then setting up a fake authentication page to intercept your account login.  The worst part is that once you instruct your device to trust a connection with a WiFi router with that SSID identification (xfinitywifi) it will try to reconnect whenever it sees a Hotspot with that name. 

For this reason, I have stopped using this free service of my cellular provider and Internet service provider.  If you are an xfinity user and absolutely need to use the network of free WiFi routers, I would suggest that you setup an additional ID with Comcast just to use for WiFi access.  When you add this additional ID, you have the option to provide it with no administrative access to your account, so even if it is hacked, no damage can be done to your account or personal information.  Just make sure you use a different password for your dummy account. 

Apple’s iOS Activation Lock is Helping Reduce Cell Phone Theft

Enable Find My iPad in Settings

iMore has an article indicating that theft of iPhones has drastically declined thanks to the activation lock feature that was introduced in iOS. Activation Lock is a feature of “Find My iPhone” that requires that your iTunes username and password be used when trying to erase a device or reactivating a device. Apple prompts you to enable “Find My iPhone” during the initial setup. After being enabled, a device cannot be erased or re-activated without the iTunes username and password being entered.

This feature works on any device that iOS 7 can be installed on. That includes all models of the iPhone and iPad currently being sold. To determine if you have this feature enabled, check settings, iCloud, and make sure Find My iPad is enabled. For more information see Apple’s support page.

Parallels just made it easier to remotely access a computer from iPhones and Androids

I have been a long time user of Parallels on my MacBook. It is a great app that allows you to use all your Windows apps on your Mac based computer. One of the neat features of Parallels has been an immersion mode that allows you to run any of your Windows applications as if they were a Mac application. I have tried the Parallels Access app, and it tries to do a similar thing for the iPad and iPhone.

With the recently launched update, Parallels Access is now available on the iPad, the iPhone and on Android. You simply install the Access app on your mobile device, and then install the agent on your PC or Mac. You can access up to five computers with a Parallels Access subscription. A one year subscription is $19.99, or you can purchase 2 years for $29.99.

Once you install the app and the agent, you can remotely access your Windows or Mac applications directly on your iPad or iPhone. Unlike most desktop sharing apps (like GotoMyDesktop or LogMeIn), once you launch Parallels, you do not see your desktop, but instead you are presented with an App launcher. You can add any of your desktop applications to this launcher. Once you select the application, it launches full screen within the Parallels Access app. You never see the normal desktop interface. However there is an app switcher that lets you quickly switch to any of your other desktop applications that are running.

I find this to be a really interesting twist on the remote desktop apps, and definitely recommend giving it a try. A free two week trial is available, and the iPhone, iPad, and Android apps are free to download.

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